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Product Impacts

Managing the actual and potential impacts of our products through product stewardship and materials stewardship.

GRI Indicator


Why was Product Impacts a Material Topic in 2016?

There is persistent societal concern over the impacts that materials and their production can have on people and the environment, due to the waste, emissions and accumulation of hazardous by-products. Producers are expected to take responsibility for their products, making it more important than ever to fully understand product life cycles in order to maximize value while minimizing impacts(1).

(1)ICMM “Maximizing Value: Guidance on implementing materials stewardship in the minerals and metals value chain” 

In the mining industry, there is consistent recognition of shared responsibility across the supply chain for the sustainable production, use, reuse, recycling and disposal of minerals and metals. Specifically, the products of mining can have naturally occurring deleterious impurities associated with them, as well as valuable co-products like lead, cadmium and indium. From a stewardship perspective, we believe the mining industry is obliged to ensure these impurities and products are safely managed for employees, communities and the environment.

In accordance with the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) guidance on materials stewardship, we recognize that the value of minerals and metals to society are maximized when the various stakeholders along the value chain undertake activities that minimize risks, improve efficiency and optimize the life cycle of these products. We know our products have the potential to impact employees, communities and the environment; that’s why we remain committed to stringent product and materials stewardship, and transparency on product impacts.

Teck is a producer of materials essential to the quality of life of people around the world. In addition to its key products — copper, zinc, steelmaking coal, and energy, Teck is a world leader in the production of lead, a significant producer of specialty metals such as germanium, indium and cadmium, and a producer of gold doré and silver. In addition, Teck produces a range of industrial products and fertilizers, which are recovered from our zinc and lead smelting operations. We recognize that our products have the potential to impact employees, communities and the environment. For example, our activities and products can both contribute to, and reduce, GHG emissions.

As external expectations increase around the safety of our products, Teck is receiving more information requests from customers on our management practices and how we minimize product impacts. In order to maintain strong business relationships and customer trust, we remain committed to stringent product and materials stewardship and transparency on product impacts. Managing the impacts of our products requires a thorough understanding of the properties of our products and our supply chain, which allows us to more effectively minimize impacts, engage with our communities of interest and gain market access.

Performance Highlights


customer site visits conducted as part of our
ongoing assessment of the impacts of our products

Our Targets and Commitments

We seek to maximize the value of our products by using our technology and expertise to support and advocate for the responsible use, reuse, recycling, recovery and disposal of materials.

How Does Teck Manage Product Impacts?

Managing Product Impacts through Materials Stewardship

Materials stewardship at Teck is a risk management process to minimize the impact of our products throughout their life cycle on employees, communities and the environment, and to ensure our products satisfy or exceed regulatory and societal needs. This work is conducted primarily by our Materials Stewardship Committee, who defines and oversees our efforts and is responsible for:

  • Understanding the actual or potential risks and impacts of our products
  • Making recommendations on approving new product applications
  • Managing labelling and packaging requirements
  • Monitoring product regulations and technical, transportation and legal issues
  • Establishing and evaluating policies and procedures related to materials stewardship


We employ life cycle thinking to understand the potential risks and impacts of our products, beginning with the extraction of raw material from the earth, through to processing, transportation and customer use.

We manage a master product list and conduct customer assessment to ensure our products are used safely, as some products may cause harm if handled unsafely by smelters or end users. As part of our commitment to upholding business ethics, regulatory requirements and external expectations, we work to ensure that smelters, including ours and those downstream, have sufficient environmental management practices.

We draw on ecotoxicity expertise developed by the various commodity associations to bring sound science into our management approaches and decisions. Our materials stewardship program is also actively engaged with collective industry efforts, including those of the ICMM, towards continuously improving materials stewardship.

Responding to Regulatory Requirements

Our materials stewardship efforts have expanded in recent years to meet growing regulatory pressures on mineral concentrates. These are manifested, for example, in the International Maritime Organization (IMO) bulk cargo requirements, Chinese import restrictions, and the Minamata Convention for Mercury. These requirements and restrictions now affect mining companies and smelters globally, and Teck specifically, in the same way that Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulations have defined chemical management programs for refined metals, alloys and compounds in the European Union since 2006. 

Recycling is an important aspect of our everyday lives, as it conserves scarce natural resources, reduces the amount of waste that must be burned or buried, and helps to sustain the environment for future generations. We recycle in accordance with international, national, provincial and local requirements, and we aim to exceed these requirements. Continually improving recycling at our operations by identifying and sharing best practices throughout the company is our goal — including ongoing assessments of our recycling and reuse practices.


Table 40: Teck’s Recycling Methods and Definitions

Recycling Definition

Recycling for Value Recovery

Industrial Waste Processing

Domestic Recycling

Teck’s Method

Treating materials to create a renewed value for Teck in their new form

Treating end-of-life materials generated from our own operations and from other sources

Recycling of household items such as newspaper, bottles, cans and organics

What was Our Performance in Managing Product Impacts?

Through our materials stewardship committee, Teck continuously evaluates actual and potential risks and impacts of our products. Further to our ongoing assessment of the impacts of our products, we conduct site visits with potential and existing customers to evaluate their capacity to handle our products responsibly.

We conducted seven customer site visits in 2016 and 11 in 2015. Visits in 2016 focused on our base metals business, in particular our copper and lead.

Management of the environmental and social impacts that may occur during the production and transportation of our products is guided by our HSEC Management Standards and sustainability strategy as well as activities associated with meeting permit and regulatory requirements. For totals of hazardous and non-hazardous waste produced in 2016, see Tailings and Mine Waste Management


Recycling in 2016


Table 41: 2016 Recycling Performance






Recycled tonnes of material






At our Trail Operations, our focus remains on treating cathode ray tube glass, plus small quantities of zinc alkaline batteries and other post-consumer waste through our recycling program. Trail developed Canada’s first lead acid battery recycling program and through this program recycled 19,369 tonnes of lead in 2016, compared to 18,537 in 2015 and 18,955 in 2014.

Outlook for Product Impacts

We expect that regulatory and community pressure on mining companies to manage the impacts of their products will continue to increase. Through our materials stewardship committee and activities, and collaboration with industry associations and peers, we will continue our work to ensure our products are handled responsibly throughout their life cycle. Throughout the year, we will also continue to collaborate with and support organizations such as the International Zinc Association, the International Copper Association and others in their studies and research on product impacts. 

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Teck is a diversified resource company committed to responsible mining and mineral development with business units focused on copper, zinc, steelmaking coal and energy.