About the indicators

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To ensure transparency and objectivity, the report is based on officially available data and shows the evolving landscape up to 2017 or 2018, depending on the latest available data. Where no data was available, information from essenscia experts or from member consultation was used. The source is always explicitly mentioned under the graphs.

Using those officially available data seems crucial to us for a credible reporting standard but as a consequence there is a certain time lag between the launch of this sustainability report and the latest included data. Indeed, for several indicators, we cannot report before October 2019 on data of 2017. This is especially true for environmental data since the 2017 complete dataset was only available in the summer of 2019. Even though we always seek to have the most recent data included in our report, we do not see this ‘lag’ being reduced over time, as relying on official data remains crucial to us for transparency and objectivity reasons. Moreover, the picture on the long-term trends remains unchanged, and is in our view a more valuable source of information than the very latest number in itself.

The set of indicators linked to the GRI standards is summarised in the table below. Most of the indicators are quantitative. Where possible, the indicators of the chemical, plastics and life sciences industry are compared to the results of the Belgian manufacturing industry and/or the Belgian society. There are also some indicators which are considered equally important for the sector, but for which (at least to date) no data on a sectoral level are available. In such cases, the information provided is limited to qualitative information.

Economic indicators

Unless specified otherwise, the economic activities of the chemical, plastics and life sciences sector fall under the following numerical codes used by the European Union for classifying economic activities:

  • NACE 20: manufacture of chemicals and chemical products;
  • NACE 21: manufacture of basic pharmaceuticals products and pharmaceutical preparations;
  • NACE 22: manufacture of rubber and plastic products.

Statistics on foreign trade
The products of the chemical, plastics and life sciences sector fall under the following sections of the Combined Nomenclature, a classification used by the World Customs Organization (WCO):

  • section VI: products from the chemical and related industries;
  • section VII: plastic, rubber and their derivatives.

Environmental indicators

This report uses data from the European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (E-PRTR; 2007-2011) as well as official federal or regional sources.

The E-PRTR replaced the European Pollutant Emission Register (EPER), which was used to gather data for 2001 and 2004. The number of companies, pollutants and reporting thresholds may differ, so the old and new data must be interpreted with due caution.

Production index

In the environmental graphs the sustainability report uses the production index, calculated and published by the Belgian economic authorities, to demonstrate the decoupling of production and consumption or emissions.

The production index represents the industrial level of production of the sector and its evolution in time[1]. The data are based on PRODCOM surveys on the production of manufactured goods. Production outputs are converted into a monetary value considering the different unit measures. Given that the monthly data on value added – necessary for the collection of this index – are often difficult to collect, proxy values for the calculation of the production index are used in practice. Furthermore, the industrial production index is deflated by the industrial production price index in order to make the variations in the industrial production index reflect only volume variations and not price variations.

In 2015, the Belgian economic authorities (Statistics Belgium) adjusted the base year for this index for the period 2000-2010 and refined the methodology used to produce it. This switch to a 2010 base year alters the relative share of the various economic activities based on their respective added value. The share of life sciences thus rose significantly in the sector’s production index between 2000 and 2010.

[1] Months aggregated into years and currently compared to 2015, reference year

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