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Entities in the Chemicals industry transform organic and inorganic feedstocks into more than 70,000 diverse products with a range of industrial, pharmaceutical, agricultural, housing, automotive and consumer applications. The industry commonly is segmented into basic (commodity) chemicals, agricultural chemicals and specialty chemicals. Basic chemicals, the largest segment by volume produced, include bulk polymers, petrochemicals, inorganic chemicals and other industrial chemicals. Agricultural chemicals include fertilisers, crop chemicals and agricultural biotechnology. Specialty chemicals include paints and coatings, agrochemicals, sealants, adhesives, dyes, industrial gases, resins and catalysts. Larger entities may produce basic, agricultural and specialty chemicals, but most entities are specialised. Chemicals entities typically manufacture and sell products globally.

Relevant Issues (10 of 26)

Why are some issues greyed out? The SASB Standards vary by industry based on the different sustainability-related risks and opportunities within an industry. The issues in grey were not identified during the standard-setting process as the most likely to be useful to investors, so they are not included in the Standard. Over time, as the ISSB continues to receive market feedback, some issues may be added or removed from the Standard. Each company determines which sustainability-related risks and opportunities are relevant to its business. The Standard is designed for the typical company in an industry, but individual companies may choose to report on different sustainability-related risks and opportunities based on their unique business model.

Disclosure Topics

What is the relationship between General Issue Category and Disclosure Topics? The General Issue Category is an industry-agnostic version of the Disclosure Topics that appear in each SASB Standard. Disclosure topics represent the industry-specific impacts of General Issue Categories. The industry-specific Disclosure Topics ensure each SASB Standard is tailored to the industry, while the General Issue Categories enable comparability across industries. For example, Health & Nutrition is a disclosure topic in the Non-Alcoholic Beverages industry, representing an industry-specific measure of the general issue of Customer Welfare. The issue of Customer Welfare, however, manifests as the Counterfeit Drugs disclosure topic in the Biotechnology & Pharmaceuticals industry.
General Issue Category
(Industry agnostic)

Disclosure Topics (Industry specific) for: Chemicals

GHG Emissions
  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions

    Chemical manufacturing generates direct (Scope 1) greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from fossil fuel combustion in manufacturing and cogeneration processes, as well as process emissions from the chemical transformation of feedstocks. GHG emissions may result in regulatory compliance costs or penalties and operating risks for chemicals entities. However, the financial effects may vary depending on the magnitude of emissions and the prevailing emissions regulations. The industry may be subject to increasingly stringent regulations as countries try to limit or reduce emissions. Entities that cost-effectively manage GHG emissions through greater energy efficiency, the use of alternative fuels or manufacturing process advances may benefit from improved operating efficiency and reduced regulatory risk, among other financial benefits.
Air Quality
  • Air Quality

    In addition to greenhouse gases (GHGs), chemical manufacturing may produce air emissions including sulphur dioxides (SOx), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs). As with GHGs, these emissions typically stem from fuel combustion and feedstock processing. Relative to other industries, the Chemicals industry is a more significant source of some of these emissions. Entities face operating costs, regulatory compliance costs, regulatory penalties in the event of non-compliance and capital expenditures related to emissions management, although related financial effects may vary depending on the magnitude of emissions and the prevailing regulations. As such, an entity that actively manages the issue through technological process improvements or other strategies may mitigate such impacts, improve financial performance and enhance brand value.
Energy Management
  • Energy Management

    Chemical manufacturing is typically energy-intensive, with energy used to power processing units, cogeneration plants, machinery and non-manufacturing facilities. The type of energy used, amount consumed and energy management strategies depends on the type of products manufactured. Typically, fossil fuels such as natural gas and natural gas liquids are the predominant form of non-feedstock energy used, while purchased electricity also may be a significant share. Therefore, energy purchases may be a significant share of production costs. An entity’s energy mix may include energy generated on-site, purchased grid electricity and fossil fuels, and renewable and alternative energy. Trade-offs in the use of energy sources include cost, reliability of supply, related water use and air emissions, and regulatory compliance and risk. As such, an entity’s energy intensity and energy sourcing decisions may affect its operating efficiency and risk profile over time.
Water & Wastewater Management
  • Water Management

    Used primarily for cooling, steam generation and feedstock processing, water is a critical input in chemicals production. Long-term historical increases in water scarcity and cost, and expectations of continued increases—because of over-consumption and reduced supplies resulting from population growth and shifts, pollution and climate change—show the importance of water management. Water scarcity may result in a higher risk of operational disruption for entities with water-intensive operations, and can increase water procurement costs and capital expenditures. Meanwhile, chemical manufacturing may generate process wastewater that must be treated before disposal. Non-compliance with water quality regulations may result in regulatory compliance and mitigation costs or legal expenses stemming from litigation. Reducing water use and consumption through increased efficiency and other water management strategies may result in lower operating costs over time and may mitigate financial effects of regulations, water supply shortages and community-related disruptions of operations.
Waste & Hazardous Materials Management
  • Hazardous Waste Management

    Chemical manufacturing may generate hazardous process waste which may include heavy metals, spent acids, catalysts and wastewater treatment sludge. Entities face regulatory and operational challenges in managing waste, since some wastes are subject to regulations pertaining to their transport, treatment, storage and disposal. Waste management strategies include reduced generation, effective treatment and disposal, and recycling and recovery, if possible. Such activities, although requiring initial investment or operating costs, may reduce an entity’s long-term cost structure and mitigate the risk of remediation liabilities or regulatory penalties.
Human Rights & Community Relations
  • Community Relations

    Chemical entities are important economic contributors to many communities, providing employment opportunities and community development through taxes and capital generation. Meanwhile, issues including environmental policy, community health and process safety have important regulatory, operational, financial and reputational implications for entities. Environmental externalities including air emissions and water use may affect the health of people living near chemical facilities over the long term. Meanwhile, process safety incidents may endanger community health and safety, resulting in regulatory penalties, legal action and mitigation costs. Consequently, chemicals entities may benefit from building strong relationships with communities to mitigate potential operating disruption, reduce regulatory risk, retain top employees, lower the risk of litigation expenses in the event of process safety incidents and ensure a strong social licence to operate. Entities may adopt various community engagement strategies, such as developing community engagement plans, establishing codes and guidelines to ensure alignment of the organisation’s interests with those of their surrounding communities, or conducting impact assessments to evaluate projects and mitigate potential adverse impacts.
Employee Health & Safety
  • Workforce Health & Safety

    Employees in chemical manufacturing facilities face health and safety risks from exposure to heavy machinery, harmful substances, electrical hazards and high pressure and temperatures, among others. Creating an effective safety culture is critical to mitigate safety impacts proactively, which might otherwise result in financial consequences including higher healthcare costs, litigation and work disruption. By maintaining a safe work environment and promoting a culture of safety, entities can minimise safety-related expenses and potentially improve productivity.
Product Design & Lifecycle Management
  • Product Design for Use-phase Efficiency

    As increasing resource scarcity and regulations encourage greater materials efficiency and lower energy consumption and emissions, the Chemicals industry may benefit from developing products that enhance customer efficiency. From reducing automobile emissions through materials optimisation to improving building insulation performance, Chemicals industry products can enhance efficiency across many applications. Entities that develop cost-effective solutions to meet customer demand for improved efficiency may benefit from increased revenue and market share, stronger competitive positioning and enhanced brand value.
  • Safety & Environmental Stewardship of Chemicals

    Product safety and stewardship is a critical issue for entities in the Chemicals industry. The potential for human health or environmental impacts of chemicals during the use-phase can influence product demand and regulatory risk, which in turn can affect revenues and result in higher operating, regulatory compliance and mitigation expenses. The industry can mitigate regulatory risk and grow market share by developing innovative approaches to manage the potential impacts of products during the use-phase, including developing alternative products with reduced toxicity. This could contribute to shareholder value through improved competitive positioning, greater market share, reduced regulatory risks and higher brand value.
  • Genetically Modified Organisms

    Some chemical entities produce crop seeds developed using genetically modified organism (GMO) technology. GMO technology has improved some crop yields, including corn and soy, by altering the crop’s resistance to pesticides and herbicides and improving drought tolerance, among other factors. At the same time, consumers and regulators in some areas have expressed concern over the use of GMO technology because of perceived health, environmental and social impacts of GMO cultivation and consumption. Thus, entities that employ such technology face both market opportunities and risks related to its use. The adoption of GMO crop technology is significant in some regions, although in other regions regulators have implemented bans, quotas or labelling requirements on GMO-based products. Such product bans or labelling requirements may decrease revenues or increase costs for manufacturers, and regulatory scrutiny and public perception may affect reputational risk. As such, entities that effectively respond to market drivers related to GMO products can mitigate risks and capitalise on opportunities.
Management of the Legal & Regulatory Environment
  • Management of the Legal & Regulatory Environment

    The Chemicals industry faces strict regulation governing air emissions, water discharge, chemical safety and process safety, among other issues. Anticipating and adapting to regulatory developments, both in the short and long term, is a critical issue for the industry, as regulatory developments can significantly affect product demand, manufacturing costs and brand value. Therefore, entities with a clear strategy for managing the regulatory environment that aligns corporate performance with sustainable environmental outcomes and accounts for societal externalities may benefit from increased regulatory certainty, stronger brand value and improved competitive positioning.
Critical Incident Risk Management
  • Operational Safety, Emergency Preparedness & Response

    Health, safety and emergency management is a critical issue for entities in the Chemicals industry. Technical failure, human error or external factors such as weather may result in accidental releases of chemical substances into the environment at processing facilities or during storage and transportation. Furthermore, the combustible nature of some chemical substances, combined with the high operating temperatures and pressures involved in manufacturing, increases the risk of explosions, hazardous spills or other emergency situations. Such events may harm workers or people in nearby communities through the release of harmful air emissions and chemical substances, and they may impact the environment adversely. Entities may face operational disruptions, damage to facilities, reputational harm, and increased regulatory compliance and remediation costs in the event of a process incident. As such, strong process safety management may reduce operational downtime, mitigate costs and regulatory risk, and ensure workforce productivity.

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