CBC's 15-Year Journey with EcoVadis: Advancing Sustainability for Both the Company and Community

April 15, 2024 EcoVadis EN

Yuki Medori, Deputy Director of the Sustainability Group, CBC

CBC Co., Ltd. imports, exports and sells chemical products, food products, electronic equipment, and medical equipment. It also manufactures bulk pharmaceuticals, IT components, and automotive parts. Since its establishment in 1925, it has a legacy spanning 99 consecutive years of profitability. The company started expanding globally in the 1930s, and currently has 44 offices in 19 countries.

The company has been partnering with EcoVadis since 2009, when the terms ‘sustainability’ and ‘SDGs’ were not yet common in Japan. CBC was awarded the Silver Medal in 2020, and has since then achieved EcoVadis medals in 2023 and 2024. The company  also formed a dedicated sustainability department in 2022. In an interview with Yuki Medori, Director of the Sustainability Group, we delve into the company’s early sustainability endeavors and the pivotal role EcoVadis played in their journey. 

How did CBC approach sustainability before partnering with EcoVadis? 

Rooted in the corporate philosophy of "Dream Together,” CBC has long championed sustainable practices. Even before sustainability became a hot topic, our goal was to foster sustainability for our employees, their families, and society at large. Given the nature of our business, particularly in chemical products, where regulations and environmental concerns intertwine, sustainability has always been a priority. 

For example, since the 1990s, we have sold environmentally-conscious pesticides as an alternative to chemical ones. These pheromone-based chemicals are used to suppress the reproduction of insect pests, and since they do not negatively impact the environment, they are increasingly in demand in Europe and South America. Doing business safely and securely has been an important part of the company from early on.

What prompted CBC to undergo the EcoVadis assessment?

I think the first time I heard of EcoVadis was in 2009, shortly after EcoVadis was founded in 2007. A packaging materials manufacturer headquartered in Canada had asked our Singapore office to undergo the EcoVadis assessment. Then, in 2011, a major European chemical manufacturer requested that our German site do the same. 

At the time, we did not yet have a department dedicated to sustainability, so the legal department to which I belonged proceeded with the inquiries. As a private entity, we did not have much experience publicly disclosing sustainability-related information, human rights protections, or labor management, so it was a little out of our wheelhouse and we were unsure on how to move forward.

It was in 2016 that things changed. A global electronics customer had asked our factory in China to be assessed. Since this assessment was not only about quality control and manufacturing management, but also about sustainability, the factory contacted our headquarters. When we communicated that we were already working with EcoVadis, the customer told us that an additional assessment would not be necessary. This reinforced EcoVadis’ global credibility and led to a paradigm shift in our mindset, allowing us to recognize the value of EcoVadis assessments.

CBC Headquarters in Tokyo, Japan

What were some of the challenges you faced during the assessment process?

It was difficult to assemble the evidence required for it. The legal team, working with human resources and general affairs, took the lead on gathering the necessary documents. But in our case, most of the documents were internal, so they were not considered official records or reports.

While we were puzzling over what to do, we were contacted by the Japanese subsidiary of a chemical manufacturer headquartered in Switzerland, who said that in order to continue doing business with us, they would need us to undergo the EcoVadis assessment and meet their new standards. Since this was an important customer for us, we decided to be more proactive about the assessment. Fortunately, the chemical manufacturer also wanted to continue doing business with us, and since they had experience with EcoVadis assessments, they gave us a variety of advice on how to improve our sustainability efforts. 

For example, we had not previously had the practice of putting our company name on internal documents. However, documents without the company name are not recognized as official evidence in the review process. Therefore, we made a consistent effort to include the company name on all documents, and to compile the information for external reports. 

Thanks to our efforts, we were able to meet the standards for chemical manufacturers when we were awarded the Silver Medal in 2020. We were very happy with the results and shared them with the entire company.

Have you made any changes since you started working with EcoVadis?

Since 2019, we have been asked several times, not just from global companies, but also from customers in Japan, if we have been assessed by EcoVadis. Our sales representatives have also told us that the assessments are useful for them because they can proudly share that CBC has been assessed by EcoVadis for 15 years and has received high scores.

Another major benefit of the assessment is that it allows us to clearly identify what we are doing well in terms of sustainability and what we need to improve. For example, we have long had a solid human rights protection and labor management system on par with publicly listed companies. One of our main goals now, in part due to market demands, is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In 2023, for the first time, we responded to a questionnaire from CDP, advancing our efforts to improve our score. Additionally, aiming to achieve certification by 2026 for Science Based Targets (SBTs) aligned with the levels required by the Paris Agreement, we launched a project across our global group.

In addition to EcoVadis assessments, we regularly receive customer requests to undergo various other sustainability assessments. In many cases, the questions overlap, so we feel that our experience with EcoVadis has also proved useful when responding to other surveys.

Members of CBC Co.

What are CBC's thoughts on the future of sustainability?

In 2022, we created a department dedicated to sustainability called the Sustainability Group,  which had previously been a part of the legal team. One of my responsibilities as a member of the department is attending board meetings, emphasizing the significance of sustainability to directors overseeing other divisions. I hope this sparks conversations around sustainability within the company and helps forge new attitudes around the topic at all levels, from top-down to bottom-up. 

As mentioned earlier, sustainability lies at the core of our corporate philosophy. As we further advance our sustainability endeavors, our employees will have a deeper understanding of the reciprocal relationship between the company and the community – the sustainable growth of the company leads to the development of the community and society, and this, in turn, fuels further business growth. 

We look forward to continuing to work with EcoVadis to assess our progress while promoting initiatives that are on par with those of public companies.

About the Author

EcoVadis EN

EcoVadis is a purpose-driven company whose mission is to provide the world's most trusted business sustainability ratings. Businesses of all sizes rely on EcoVadis’ expert intelligence and evidence-based ratings to manage risk and compliance, drive decarbonization, and improve the sustainability performance of their business and value chain. Its AI-powered risk mapping, actionable scorecards, benchmarks, carbon action tools, and insights guide a resilience and improvement journey for environmental, social and ethical practices across 200 industry categories and 175 countries.

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