SMT topics in focus
ASMPT, the global leader in hardware and software solutions for the semiconductor and electronics manufacturing industries, unveiled its strategy for carbon neutrality recently. EPP talked with Guenter Lauber, EVP & Chief Strategy and Digitalization Officer who is also responsible for ESG in ASMPT’s management, about the company’s plans.
EPP: We are pleased to hear that ASMPT aims to be carbon-neutral by 2035...
Guenter Lauber: Wait a minute, let me stop you there and clarify that our goal is Net Zero 2035 for Scope 1 and Scope 2. This means that we want to become carbon-neutral in terms of our direct emissions, for example from heating systems or company vehicles (Scope 1) and indirect emissions from our electricity suppliers (Scope 2).
EPP: Can you give us some insight into ASMPT’s sustainability goals?
Guenter Lauber: ASMPT’s ESG strategy is based on UN SDGs 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, and 13 (see SDG chart). But let me be a little more specific. Although sustainability and ESG are highly complex topics that affect all processes, departments, segments and regions of ASMPT, we have already made good progress in this field. In the area of governance, we have carried out our risk assessment, established our processes, and are actively meeting the requirements placed on us by the governments and the markets. For example, we have been publishing an ESG Report, in which we disclose ESG targets and results, since 2017.
EPP: What is your new net-zero strategy?
Guenter Lauber: Exactly: To achieve a CO2-free footprint as quickly as possible, we decided some time ago to switch to solar and wind power and to save energy in all parts of the company. What is new is the definition of a roadmap and the published commitment to a concrete goal. In doing so, we are challenging ourselves, and at the same time we want to live up to the responsibility that we bear through our prominent position in the industry – an industry about which Dr. Isabel Al-Dahir, the technology analyst of IDTechEx, says that it accounts for up to four percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Regardless of how high the value actually is – we must not stand still.
EPP: You already mentioned that companies must focus on the sustainability goals that are material to them, but that this is also determined by economic aspects. What does this look like at ASMPT?
Guenter Lauber: Traditionally, profitability assessments have been dominated by the interests of shareholders, often at the expense of other interest groups. Sustainability initiatives were therefore often rejected with the argument "no customer will pay us for that". That has changed. Not least because products that do not meet customers' sustainability requirements will no longer be able to be sold in the future. In the environmental field, we have prioritized topics based on the materiality matrix. While climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, energy-efficient products and energy management are of great importance to our stakeholders, they also have a major impact on ASMPT’s business. The economic benefits of some measures are obvious: more energy-efficient products are more attractive, and energy-saving measures as well as generating your own energy pay for themselves after a certain period of time. The positive impact on the recruitment of workers, especially the younger generation, is equally obvious. What is often overlooked: According to studies, investors increasingly use companies’ non-financial disclosures to make their investment decisions. In one meta-study, 90 percent of 200 studies analyzed concluded that good ESG standards reduce the cost of capital; 88 percent show that good ESG practices lead to better operational performance, and 80 percent show that share price performance is positively correlated with good sustainability practices. Last not least: The development of sustainable alternatives in products and operational processes is a driver of innovation.
EPP: How does ASMPT specifically address ESG, SDG and net-zero?
Guenter Lauber: Our vision proclaims “Shaping a bright & sustainable future for customers, employees, investors, partners and society”. All employees must be able to develop awareness of ESG and sustainability issues in general and of ASMPT’s focused activities in particular. To achieve this, we have established a central and cross-functional Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) Team. This global team focuses on achieving our ambitious net-zero targets across all ASMPT segments. It has also defined and communicated our net-zero targets for Scopes 1 and 2. To this end, we have identified the most effective emission-reducing levers and measures, prioritized, and selected suitable and proven practices for CO2 avoidance, and provided the necessary financial resources. With a focus on our target achievement, these measures are reviewed and reported every two months at each ASMPT location.
EPP: What kind of measures would those be, for example?
Guenter Lauber: Measures to reduce emissions include, for example, reducing the energy demand at each of our sites by investing in new systems. Others include generating electricity from renewable sources in-house, and the electrification of vehicles. All this is supported by OpEx measures, such as the procurement of electricity from renewable energy sources and the purchase of green electricity and CO2 compensation certificates. In talking about our measures, we must look at each location separately. For example, we cannot generate our own energy at will at all locations, and not all locations have providers who supply electricity from renewable sources.
EPP: Can you give us a few examples of measures that have already been taken?
Guenter Lauber: Let me mention a few. Since 2019, we have achieved some initial success with our ESG measures and reduced the CO2 emissions by 30 percent at our sites in Munich, Weymouth and Singapore. For example, a few months ago we completed the installation of more than 1,200 solar panels at our global headquarters in Singapore. Solar panels are also already in use in Weymouth, UK, and in Huizhou, China. (See box for further measures.)
EPP: Your Net Zero 2035 program applies to Scope 1 and Scope 2 in accordance with the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. What are your plans for Scope 3?
Guenter Lauber: Scope 3 refers to indirect emissions resulting from activities along the supply chain. This includes pollutant emissions which result from purchased goods and services, the use of products by customers, and the transportation of goods to customers – all highly complex issues. ASMPT has started to define the basics of Scope 3 emissions, such as those from the use of our products, whose energy efficiency has been particularly close to our hearts for a long time. We are in the process of measuring Scope 3 emissions so that we will be able to set Scope 3 targets and reduction pathways. But reducing Scope 3 emissions is not possible without cooperation across the industry. This is one of the reasons why we launched the Semiconductor Climate Consortium (SCC) in November 2022 as one of its Leadership Level founding members. The SCC is the first global consortium of semiconductor companies that focuses on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
EPP: Finally, what advice would you give to your colleagues in the industry who are still in the very early stages of ESG?
Guenter Lauber: This can be expressed very simply in a few words: Do not be deterred by tasks that seem very complex at first glance but educate yourself and identify possible starting points for your own company. Just get going and take one step at a time. Even if some ESG measures seem like individual drops, many drops add up to an ocean.
EPP: Mr. Lauber, we thank you for this interview.
As the industry’s technology leader, ASMPT offers a broad portfolio of best-in-class products. Our solutions stand out with their perfect interaction of hardware, software and service components – powerful, smart, and ready to raise your production to a new level.