AMSTERDAM — Belgian chemicals group Solvay announced plans on Tuesday to cut the discharge of waste into the sea from a soda ash production plant in Italy, ending a dispute with activist Bluebell Capital Partners.
Solvay said it would invest around 15 million euros ($14.96 million) to significantly reduce the release of limestone residue into the sea at its Chimica Italia’s soda ash production facility in Rosignano.
It said it would also invest in a new soda ash production technology that could eliminate all limestone residues and halve CO2 emissions from the process by 2050.
Bluebell last year urged Solvay to replace Chief Executive Ilham Kadri, saying she had failed to stop the discharge of limestone residues into the sea and was in “total denial” over its environmental and social impact.
Solvay said the discharge was harmless and non-toxic, and that the process complied with all relevant laws.
Bluebell, which has said it owns one share of Solvay to qualify as a shareholder, began engaging with the Belgian company in September 2020 over the damage. This was part of Bluebell’s campaign aimed at creating change at companies it says are falling short on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues and reflects a growing trend among activists to target companies over ESG shortcomings.
Bluebell on Tuesday said it was pleased with Solvay’s announcements and would end its campaign for creating change on ESG issues aimed at the company. ($1 = 1.0028 euros) (Reporting by Bart Meijer; Editing by Susan Fenton)