Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of reports from the SOAR Sustainability Conference held last week at Southern Arkansas University.
Topics that affect Arkansas today and tomorrow in areas such as forestry, recycling and energy were all highlighted during Wednesday’s SOAR Sustainability Conference at Southern Arkansas University.
Meredith Bandy, vice president of sustainability at Albemarle Corporation, was the keynote speaker for the event. Bandy received an MBA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Georgetown University. In her role, she oversees sustainability reporting and corporate initiatives and leads its Investor Relations and Capital Markets divisions.
She traveled from Charlotte, NC to speak to attendees of the first SOAR conference at SAU.
“I think they kind of under-promoted attendance,” Bandy told a large crowd at Reynolds Center. “Thank you very much for being here and I’m very happy to be able to be here to talk about Albemarle.”
Bandy said Albemarle is a global company and producer of lithium. It also makes bromine and other chemicals from the brine pumped under Columbia and Union counties.
Four key elements to advancing sustainability at Albemarle include increasing profitability, maximizing productivity, investing with discipline and promoting sustainability.
“The purpose and values are part of sustainability for Albemarle to make sure the world is safe, protecting things like phones and computers from flammability,” she said, adding in a statement. another comment in a later slide, “Safety is at the very heart of what we do. We think about planet, people and profit.
Albemarle is also committed to improving its effect on the environment.
From Charlotte to Shanghai, Albemarle operates locations in many countries around the world, according to their website. The company’s team is made up of more than 5,400 employees in approximately 100 different countries.
One of the company’s sites is in Jordan, which is the second poorest water supply site in the world.
“We have many partnerships with local communities to ensure we have local water and that they have it on hand,” she said. “Getting clean water is a daily conversation there.”
Other company-wide goals include things like reducing carbon by 25% by 2030 and zero net carbon emissions by 2050. They also want to reduce gas to greenhouse effect, she said.
Increasing renewal capacity all over the world is something they develop new technologies to offer. Bandy points out that employee-led groups to improve the corporate environment are different in Magnolia, Shanghai or Jordan.
“The good news is that good environmental improvements are starting to pay off for Albemarle,” she said.
Bandy ended his speech by showing a slide of some of the accomplishments the companies are proud of. One was named America’s most responsible companies to work for in 2022 by Newsweek.
There’s still work to be done, but Bandy said Magnolia’s business has a bright future ahead of it.
“There are great things here. We have a great resource and lots of other stuff out there,” she said. “With SAU, we have a talented and skilled workforce. I think we will be here for the long haul.