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Semiconductors industry entities design or manufacture semiconductor devices, integrated circuits, their raw materials and components, or capital equipment. Some entities in the industry provide outsourced manufacturing, assembly or other services for designers of semiconductor devices.

Relevant Issues (9 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.
  • Environment
    • GHG Emissions The category addresses direct (Scope 1) greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that a company generates through its operations. This includes GHG emissions from stationary (e.g., factories, power plants) and mobile sources (e.g., trucks, delivery vehicles, planes), whether a result of combustion of fuel or non-combusted direct releases during activities such as natural resource extraction, power generation, land use, or biogenic processes. The category further includes management of regulatory risks, environmental compliance, and reputational risks and opportunities, as they related to direct GHG emissions. The seven GHGs covered under the Kyoto Protocol are included within the category—carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), and nitrogen trifluoride (NF3).
    • Air Quality
    • Energy Management The category addresses environmental impacts associated with energy consumption. It addresses the company’s management of energy in manufacturing and/or for provision of products and services derived from utility providers (grid energy) not owned or controlled by the company. More specifically, it includes management of energy efficiency and intensity, energy mix, as well as grid reliance. Upstream (e.g., suppliers) and downstream (e.g., product use) energy use is not included in the scope.
    • Water & Wastewater Management The category addresses a company’s water use, water consumption, wastewater generation, and other impacts of operations on water resources, which may be influenced by regional differences in the availability and quality of and competition for water resources. More specifically, it addresses management strategies including, but not limited to, water efficiency, intensity, and recycling. Lastly, the category also addresses management of wastewater treatment and discharge, including groundwater and aquifer pollution.
    • Waste & Hazardous Materials Management The category addresses environmental issues associated with hazardous and non-hazardous waste generated by companies. It addresses a company’s management of solid wastes in manufacturing, agriculture, and other industrial processes. It covers treatment, handling, storage, disposal, and regulatory compliance. The category does not cover emissions to air or wastewater nor does it cover waste from end-of-life of products, which are addressed in separate categories.
    • Ecological Impacts
  • Social Capital
    • Human Rights & Community Relations
    • Customer Privacy
    • Data Security
    • Access & Affordability
    • Product Quality & Safety
    • Customer Welfare
    • Selling Practices & Product Labeling
  • Human Capital
    • Labor Practices
    • Employee Health & Safety The category addresses a company’s ability to create and maintain a safe and healthy workplace environment that is free of injuries, fatalities, and illness (both chronic and acute). It is traditionally accomplished through implementing safety management plans, developing training requirements for employees and contractors, and conducting regular audits of their own practices as well as those of their subcontractors. The category further captures how companies ensure physical and mental health of workforce through technology, training, corporate culture, regulatory compliance, monitoring and testing, and personal protective equipment.
    • Employee Engagement, Diversity & Inclusion The category addresses a company’s ability to ensure that its culture and hiring and promotion practices embrace the building of a diverse and inclusive workforce that reflects the makeup of local talent pools and its customer base. It addresses the issues of discriminatory practices on the bases of race, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and other factors.
  • Business Model and Innovation
    • Product Design & Lifecycle Management The category addresses incorporation of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations in characteristics of products and services provided or sold by the company. It includes, but is not limited to, managing the lifecycle impacts of products and services, such as those related to packaging, distribution, use-phase resource intensity, and other environmental and social externalities that may occur during their use-phase or at the end of life. The category captures a company’s ability to address customer and societal demand for more sustainable products and services as well as to meet evolving environmental and social regulation. It does not address direct environmental or social impacts of the company’s operations nor does it address health and safety risks to consumers from product use, which are covered in other categories.
    • Business Model Resilience
    • Supply Chain Management
    • Materials Sourcing & Efficiency The category addresses issues related to the resilience of materials supply chains to impacts of climate change and other external environmental and social factors. It captures the impacts of such external factors on operational activity of suppliers, which can further affect availability and pricing of key resources. It addresses a company’s ability to manage these risks through product design, manufacturing, and end-of-life management, such as by using of recycled and renewable materials, reducing the use of key materials (dematerialization), maximizing resource efficiency in manufacturing, and making R&D investments in substitute materials. Additionally, companies can manage these issues by screening, selection, monitoring, and engagement with suppliers to ensure their resilience to external risks. It does not address issues associated with environmental and social externalities created by operational activity of individual suppliers, which is covered in a separate category.
    • Physical Impacts of Climate Change
  • Leadership and Governance
    • Business Ethics
    • Competitive Behavior The category covers social issues associated with existence of monopolies, which may include, but are not limited to, excessive prices, poor quality of service, and inefficiencies. It addresses a company’s management of legal and social expectation around monopolistic and anti-competitive practices, including issues related to bargaining power, collusion, price fixing or manipulation, and protection of patents and intellectual property (IP).
    • Management of the Legal & Regulatory Environment
    • Critical Incident Risk Management
    • Systemic Risk Management

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: Semiconductors

GHG Emissions
  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions

    Entities in the Semiconductors industry generate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, particularly those from perfluorinated compounds, from semiconductor manufacturing operations. GHG emissions may create regulatory compliance costs and operating risks for semiconductors entities, although resulting financial effects may vary depending on the magnitude of emissions and the prevailing emissions regulations. Entities that cost-effectively manage GHG emissions through greater energy efficiency, the use of alternative chemicals or manufacturing process advances may benefit from improved operating efficiency and reduced regulatory risk.
Energy Management
  • Energy Management in Manufacturing

    Energy is a critical input for manufacturing semiconductor devices. The price of conventional grid electricity and volatility of fossil fuel prices may increase because of evolving climate change regulations and new incentives for energy efficiency and renewable energy, among other factors, while alternative energy sources become more cost-competitive. Decisions regarding energy sourcing and type, as well as alternative energy use, may create trade-offs related to the energy supply’s cost and reliability for operations. As industry innovation adds complexity to manufacturing processes, new technologies to manufacture semiconductors may consume more energy unless entities invest in the energy efficiency of their operations. The way an entity manages energy efficiency, reliance on different types of energy, the associated sustainability risks, and alternative energy source access may affect financial performance.
Water & Wastewater Management
  • Water Management

    Water is critical to the semiconductor production process, which requires significant volumes of ‘ultra-pure’ water for cleaning purposes, to avoid trace molecules from affecting product quality. As manufacturing becomes more complex, entities in the industry are discovering the importance of reducing ultra-pure water use. Water is becoming a scarce resource around the world, because of increasing consumption from population growth and rapid urbanisation, and reduced supplies because of climate change. Furthermore, water pollution in developing countries makes available water supplies unusable or expensive to treat. Without careful planning, water scarcity may result in higher supply costs, social tensions with local communities and governments, or loss of water access in water-scarce regions, thereby presenting a critical risk to production. Semiconductor entities that increase water use efficiency during manufacturing may maintain a lower risk profile and face reduced regulatory risks as local, regional and national environmental laws place increasing emphasis on resource conservation.
Waste & Hazardous Materials Management
  • Waste Management

    Semiconductor manufacturing requires hazardous materials, many of which are subject to environmental, health and safety regulations, and generates harmful waste, which may be released into the environment in the form of water and air emissions, and solid waste. The handling and disposal of hazardous wastes produced during manufacturing can lead to increased operating costs, capital expenditures, and in some instances, regulatory costs. Entities that are able to reduce waste produced during manufacturing and ensure that it is reused, recycled, or disposed of appropriately, will maintain a lower risk profile and face lower regulatory risks as local, regional, and national environmental laws place increasing emphasis on resource conservation and waste management.
Employee Health & Safety
  • Employee Health & Safety

    The long-term impact on worker health from chemical usage in semiconductor manufacturing is a major area of concern for the industry. Workers in fabrication facilities, particularly maintenance workers, are at risk of exposure to chemicals known to be hazardous to human health. Violations of health and safety standards can result in monetary penalties and additional costs of corrective actions, with an impact on net profits and contingent liabilities. Furthermore, such violations can also lead to non-monetary penalties and reputational impacts which can decrease revenues, as well as market share. Effective management of health and safety issues include implementing effective engineering controls, introducing less hazardous chemicals where possible or using smaller amounts, and seeking chemicals presenting the fewest risks to the workforce. In addition to protecting brand value, entities taking these measures can also protect themselves from adverse legal outcomes related to both regulated and unregulated hazardous substances.
Employee Engagement, Diversity & Inclusion
  • Recruiting & Managing a Global & Skilled Workforce

    Employees are key contributors to value creation in the Semiconductors industry. Entities face competition and challenges in recruiting qualified employees, including electrical engineers, research scientists, and process engineers, and compensation for such employees is a significant cost component for the industry. To respond to domestic talent shortages, semiconductors entities are increasingly recruiting foreign nationals, even as they offshore operations, resulting in associated human capital management challenges. Hiring foreign nationals to compensate for shortages in local talent can create risks related to perceived social implications in the host and home countries of workers. Semiconductors entities can improve their competitive positioning by establishing education, training, and recruitment policies that develop and leverage the talents of skilled, global employees to meet their human capital needs. Such initiatives can help drive innovation and improve worker productivity, thereby improving access to new markets and possible new sources of revenue, while also creating a more engaged workforce that is less likely to experience high rates of turnover.
Product Design & Lifecycle Management
  • Product Lifecycle Management

    As an increasing number of devices become connected to each other and to the internet, semiconductor entities face greater demand for products that increase computing power and decrease energy costs. Semiconductor machinery and device manufacturers may reduce the environmental and human health impacts of their products by increasing the energy-efficiency of equipment and chips and reducing the use of harmful materials in products. As consumer demand grows for energy-efficient devices that increase battery life, reduce heat output and decrease energy consumption, semiconductor manufacturers that satisfy these may gain a competitive advantage, driving revenue and market share growth. Entities also may benefit from reducing the use of toxic materials from chips destined for consumer devices, which has implications for the end-of-life management of electronic waste, an issue of growing legislative importance in many countries.
Materials Sourcing & Efficiency
  • Materials Sourcing

    Entities in the Semiconductors industry rely on numerous critical materials as key inputs for finished products. Many of these inputs have few or no available substitutes and are often sourced from deposits concentrated in few countries, many of which are subject to geopolitical uncertainty. Other sustainability impacts related to climate change, land use, resource scarcity, and conflict in regions where the industry’s supply chain operates are also increasingly shaping the industry’s ability to source materials. Additionally, increased competition for these materials due to growing global demand from other sectors can result in price increases and supply risks. The ability of entities to manage potential materials shortages, supply disruptions, price volatility, and reputational risks is made more difficult by the fact that they commonly source materials from supply chains that often lack transparency. Failure to effectively manage this issue can lead to an inability to access necessary materials, reduced margins, constrained revenue growth, and/or higher costs or capital.
Competitive Behavior
  • Intellectual Property Protection & Competitive Behaviour

    While intellectual property (IP) protection is inherent to the business model of entities in the Semiconductors industry, entities’ IP practices can be a contentious societal issue. IP protection, on the one hand, is an important driver of innovation; on the other hand, some entities may also acquire and enforce patents and other IP protection in efforts to restrict competition, particularly if they are dominant market players. Industry standard-setting can involve complex negotiations over patent rights and licensing terms, and entities are using cross-licenses and patent pools to address difficulties around patent thickets. However, such industry cooperation can also raise antitrust concerns, for example, with provisions in portfolio cross-licenses that could enable price fixing. Adverse legal or regulatory rulings related to antitrust and IP can expose software and IT services entities to costly and lengthy litigations and potential monetary losses as a result. Such rulings may also affect an entity’s market share and pricing power if its patents or dominant position in key markets are legally challenged, with significant impact on revenue. Therefore, entities that can balance the protection of their IP and its use to spur innovation with ensuring their IP management and other business practices do not unfairly restrict competition, have the potential to lower regulatory scrutiny and legal actions while protecting their market value.

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