Materiality matrix

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For the first time, essenscia is publishing a materiality matrix in its sectoral sustainability report. In 2017, a materiality analysis was done and used for the elaboration of the report. However, it was not published as such in the report at that time. According to GRI “materiality is the principle that determines which relevant topics are sufficiently important that it is essential to report on them. Not all material topics are of equal importance, and the emphasis within a report is expected to reflect their relative priority”. A materiality matrix is expressing this in two dimensions:

    • an internal dimension (opinions of the essenscia experts)
    • an external dimension (opinions of the consulted stakeholders)

essenscia used the following resources to make up its 2019 materiality matrix.

The Materiality Map of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) was used as a basis. It is a robust analysis developed for all industrial sectors. This assessment is done at the level of material topics, called General Issue Category. The essenscia matrix is developed based on those 26 General Issue Categories identified by SASB1. The SASB materiality assessment2 was considered for the external dimension of the matrix.

Since the chemical sector is delivering chemical substances, mixtures and materials (cf. plastics) to a wide array of applications, we also considered – besides the chemical industry – the industrial sectors listed below to further strenghten the assessment. Industrial sectors that are downstream users of chemicals were given less weight when combining the materially assessments according to SASB for each General Issue Category and for each industrial sector. These are all SASB industrial sectors that were considered.

  • Resource Transformation
    • Chemicals;
    • Containers & Packaging;
  • Health Care
    • Biotechnology & Pharmaceuticals;
    • Medical Equipment & Supplies;
  • Consumer Goods
    • Apparel, Accessories & Footwear for clothes and textiles applications;
    • Building Products & Furnishings for building materials;
    • Household & Personal Products for detergents and cosmetics and paints;
    • Toys & Sporting Goods for toys;
  • Renewable Resources & Alternative Energy
    • Biofuels;
    • Fuel Cells & Industrial Batteries;
  • Transportation
    • Auto parts.

We organised the results in:

  • highly material (Issue is likely to be material for more than 50% of industry sectors according to SASB);
  • middle material (Issue is likely to be material for fewer than 50% of industry sectors according to SASB);
  • low material when it was not considered material by SASB for any of the industry sectors considered.

The second resource is a consultation conducted both with internal essenscia experts and with external stakeholders (same stakeholders as listed above). For each of the 26 SASB general issue categories, both groups were asked3 to state whether they found it to be low, middle or highly material within the Belgian chemical, life sciences and plastics industry.

Since there are two sources shaping the external dimension, SASB and the external stakeholders consulted, the average was taken of the results obtained per general issue category.

The resulting matrix is mapped below. Issues that have a middle score for at least one of the dimensions, are considered as highly material for the sector and are therefore subjected to the limited assurance exercise carried out on the indicators, by Deloitte.

essenscia 2019 materiality matrix

Climate change (greenhouse gas emissions) & energy use and efficiency, product quality, safety & ecodesign, social topics such as employee health & safety and diversity & inclusion are rated as middle or highly material by both essenscia experts (x-axis), as by external stakeholders (y-axis). This comforted us in the choice of indicators that cover those material topics, and of the four chosen narratives that reflect this materiality analysis.

1. In the annex 2019_Materiality-Matrix.xlsx is described how the 26 SASB general issue categories relate to the GRI indicators, to the UN SDGs, and to the essenscia indicators. 2.; 3. Written consultation through an online questionnaire.

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