McKinsey Launches New Sustainable Materials Center to Accelerate Transition to Net Zero Across Value Chains

Metals, cement, batteries, glass, plastics and others account for nearly 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions. To stop rising global temperatures, the materials sector must radically decarbonize.

To reach this moment, the value chain must cooperate like never before and solve a complex chicken egg problem. For example, if upstream producers, such as steel suppliers, do not decarbonize, downstream producers, such as automakers, will not have the low-carbon materials they need to meet their sustainability goals. At the same time, however, upstream producers cannot decarbonize without a clear downstream demand for sustainable materials.

McKinsey’s Sustainable Materials Hub aims to help solve this problem and accelerate the materials transition. The new initiative offers an approach that combines upstream and downstream perspectives to find common solutions for material sustainability and create value at the same time. In fact, we estimate that nearly $9 trillion to $12 trillion will reside in new sustainable value pools by 2030, including about $300 billion in new green materials and the products they enable.

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Explore McKinsey’s Sustainable Materials Center

“This is a system-level opportunity,” says partner Anna Moore. “To get the most out of it, the value chain must work together; supply and demand must meet. We launched the Sustainable Materials Hub to help our customers develop integrated insights, commitments and concrete action plans.

New hub combines decades of functional expertise in sustainability and operations with deep commodity and industry insights to help reduce material emissions from production to sourcing to use. “We host experts at every stage of the value chain”, explains Eric Hannon, “from miners, smelters, processors and distributors to end buyers, equipment manufacturers and industrial players”. The hub also offers in-depth insights into supply, demand and low carbon premiums across a wide range of commodities.

“Capabilities that existed until today in multiple pockets of the business are now coming together to create holistic and uniquely effective solutions for decarbonization,” says Michel Van Hoey, Senior Partner. “It’s the power of the hub.”

The Sustainable Materials Hub will focus on several areas: Creating transparency on materials related to GHG emissions; Define realistic material-related decarbonization aspirations and develop practical decarbonization plans to achieve them; market sustainable materials; and develop future-proof sourcing strategies for low-carbon offerings.

These areas will empower our clients to address decarbonization opportunities through an ecosystem approach, helping to place leaders in the best possible position to boldly pursue emissions reductions and ensure they thrive in the future. green transformation.

“Most players will need to find ways to work across the entire value chain,” says associate partner Anna-Christina Fredershausen. “They can’t do this in a silo and get where they want to go. That’s why, in the new hub, we organized ourselves the way we did.

To cross verticals and break down silos, the hub will leverage McKinsey’s signature tools, such as Catalyst Zero, to help clients take an evidence-based perspective on decarbonization.

The capabilities that existed until today in multiple pockets of the business are now coming together to create holistic and uniquely effective solutions for decarbonization. This is the power of the hub.


Michel Van Hoey, senior partner at McKinsey


The hub will also help clients retrain and upskill the people who touch these verticals, ensuring that the impact we deliver and the decarbonization work we catalyze can last. Yvonne Huemer, Associate Partner, explains, “If procurement teams are buying high-carbon products for manufacturing or if sales teams are selling solutions but not capturing the value of low-carbon offerings, you’re not don’t move on,” she said. “Every function in producer and buyer organizations needs to be perfected, and we can help.”

Achieving net zero by 2050 is the imperative of our time. The Sustainable Materials Hub is our latest initiative to help accelerate progress towards it. “Whenever we go to a materials player and do an end-to-end assessment, we always find levers that reduce carbon and create value,” says Associate Partner Marcelo Azevedo. “When customers want to move, we can tell them exactly where to go and how to get there.

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