Development objectives

Development objectives

The Sustainable Development Goals, abbreviated as SDGs, are about 17 sustainable development goals of the United Nations Global Compact that must be achieved by 2030. Just like Eiffage, Smulders uses this as a critical reflection framework, to pro-actively integrate sustainability into the policy. 

Actions on the SDGs are implemented in collaboration with VOKA. The network supports and encourages companies to work on sustainable entrepreneurship on the basis of an action plan. After 3 years, we have carried out all 17 objectives and Smulders continues to be certified. In October 2020, we received a UNITAR certificate from the United Nations.

#1 No poverty

End poverty in all its forms everywhere 

In 2017 Smulders literally and figuratively supported the orphanage project in Nepal by subsidising the building materials needed to develop the project. Also, we had a team on site to work on the project and share their knowledge about construction.


#2 No hunger

Elimate hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture 

During the winter period, the Arendonk branch serves soup at lunch time. It is bought from Natuursoep, a family business located in Arendonk that prepares fresh and traditional soup with natural ingredients. They mainly work with raw materials from Belgium or the Netherlands in order to minimise the ecological footprint. By ordering the soup from this company, we promote local products, short-chain and organic agriculture.

#3 Good health and wellbeing

Encure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages 

When we think about health, we also think about safety. A lot of things can go wrong when processing steel, so a safe working environment is of great importance.

A while ago, a turnstile door and gates were installed in the entrance hall at the head office in Arendonk. By installing this type of door, we prevent draughts and humidity and the risk of burglary has been reduced. The ethical aspect is a nice bonus. Furthermore, we limit the chance of unauthorised access and have a better view of the people present in case of an emergency.


#4 Quality education

Ensure equal access to quality education and promote lifelong learning for all 

Smulders has grown strongly in recent years. This leads to (often more complex) changes in the structure and processes. The induction process for new employees has been adapted to this.

In 2017 & 2018, a working group from HR was set up to review and optimise the induction process. There are different procedures for different functions. In the first few weeks, new colleagues can visit various department to see how the processes work.

#5 Gender equality

Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls 

A psychosocial survey amongst employees resulted in an open dialogue between the management and office employees.

People who apply for a job at Smulders, all get the same opportunities and chances to be hired and/or to grow. In the steel sector, we see that more and more women occupy a position that was mainly held by men in the past.


#6 Clean water & sanitation

Ensure access and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

Drinking water is processed and transported. The primary (bottle), secondary (plastic film or bin) and tertiary (pallet, pallet film) waste must be processed afterwards. And this while tap water is perfectly drinkable in Belgium. That is why water fountains have been installed in the office building & workshop in Arendonk, connected to the mains. Employees were given their own drinking bottle to take water, cooled or not, and with or without gas. The glass bottles are only used in meetings for external parties.

#7 Affordable and clean energy

Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

Smulders already invested in a contract that includes 100% renewable energy. But that doesn’t mean that Smulders didn’t undertake anything new. Apart from green energy, we also had to work on energy efficiency.

In 2016, we started developing a new welding technique, ICE. ICE stands for Integrated Cold Electrode and is a form of energy-saving submerged arc welding. The norm is according EN1090 which we achieved in collaboration with VSE Technologies & Exova.

The welding technique was first used in 2017 and 2018. In the ICE process, an additional 'cold' welding wire, in other words one which is electrically insulated, is also melted in the welding arc without extra energy. Therefore, there’s an energy saving of 33%.


#8 Decent work and economic growth

Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all

We work hard at Smulders. The atmosphere during and after working hours is essential. That’s why we organise various (team) events outside working hours. Every year, more than 30 colleagues participate in the 10 Miles and the Dragonboat race in Antwerp. People participate to win of course, but also for the great team spirit.


#9 Industry, innovation & infrastructure

Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and stimulate innovation

This objective also includes the quality of the living environment. To this end, Smulders participated in the civil survey on air quality in 2018:

CurieuzeNeuzen [Nosy noses]. The branch in Arendonk was one of the measurement points for this study. By participating Smulders tries to increase the awareness of employees, suppliers and our customers. Two employees also participated and had a measuring point at home. This research gives us an overall picture of where the air contains a lot of nitrogen dioxide. The next step is to limit it!

#10 Reduced inequality

Reduce inequalities in and between countries

For SDG number 10, Smulders participated in WELT, which stands for Work Experience & Learning trajectories. WELT, organised by VOKA, wants to support companies in the development of a future-oriented talent and training policy, with a focus on workplace learning.

Through the workplace programme, Smulders gives people who are further removed from the labour market a chance to work. This was done by means of a screening and networking sessions. In the end, 2 jobseekers were effectively employed within our company!


#11 Sustainable cities & communities 

Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable 

Due to the growth of the company in recent years, more and more people have joined our group, who are on the road every day to help realise our projects. It is therefore self-evident that our employees play an important role in green mobility.

In 2018, we introduced a bike-lease plan whereby employees can lease a bicycle (electric or other). In this way they are encouraged to come to work by bike and perhaps there are newcomers, who previously thought the distance was too large to cover by bike.

#12 Responsible consumption and production

Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

The concept CSR already exists for quite some time at Smulders. Various projects and actions have been running for years with regards to sustainability and reducing the footprint that has an impact within Smulders and, to some extent, on society as well. However, it was not often communicated, both internally and towards our stakeholders. We just did it.

At the end of 2018, a Sustainability Ambassador was appointed, responsible for communication within Smulders. She ensures the promotion of sustainability in all its facets, communicates about progress and develops actions. This includes the channelling of all employee ideas. Employees often have good ideas, because they know the stumbling blocks within their working area. Now they have a point of contact for this!


#13 Climate action

Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

In 2017, Smulders switched to a contract with 100% renewable energy. At that time, Smulders only had a small amount of solar panels at the head office in Arendonk. By signing up to a contract with 100% renewable energy, we make our position and our values clear.

#14 Life below water

Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development 

Offshore wind is the biggest market for Smulders. We work with other companies on offshore wind farms and therefore contribute to the development of renewable energy. Our activities have a direct impact on life below water. That is why, during the course Offshore Wind Energy at the University of Antwerp, we pay attention to influence, sustainability and how Smulders works on this.


#15 Life on land

Protect, restore and promote the sustainable use of continental ecosystems, manage forests and forests sustainably, combat desertification, stop land degradation and reverse it and halt biodiversity loss.

The Forest Stewardship Council, abbreviated as FSC, is an international non-profit organisation founded in 1993 by forest owners, timber and paper companies, social movements and environmental organisations. FSC strives for sustainable forest management worldwide, according to strict social, ecological and economic criteria.

Every year, Smulders distributes printed materials. In order to contribute to sustainable forest management, our brochures, our magazine and other matters are printed on FSC-certified paper.

#16 Peace, justice and strong institutions 

Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

The head office in Arendonk has been renovated over the last couple of years. LED lighting was installed, walls were insulated, we installed green roofs and sustainable glass. In view of this SDG and accessibility, we organised an open day in 2019 for the opening of the new, sustainable building. In addition, we gave families of employees the opportunity to come and take a look at how and where we work.


#17 Partnerships for the goals

Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development 

The impact of Smulders only comprises a small amount of the entire sector. Apart from that, it is useful to think along with other companies in the sector to see how we can influence the entire sector and put sustainability on the map.

In 2019, the research project into the use of drone inspections at offshore wind farms started. This is done together with the University of Antwerp and other fellow companies.

Once a wind farm has been installed, the work doesn’t stop. Inspections are carried out regularly to ensure that the structures are still in good working order. It takes a lot of energy, time and also money to get manpower and equipment to the offshore site to do this. If this can be done by using drones, it has a major impact on energy consumption.