Relevant Issues (6 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.
- GHG Emissions
Air QualityThe category addresses management of air quality impacts resulting from stationary (e.g., factories, power plants) and mobile sources (e.g., trucks, delivery vehicles, planes) as well as industrial emissions. Relevant airborne pollutants include, but are not limited to, oxides of nitrogen (NOx), oxides of sulfur (SOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), heavy metals, particulate matter, and chlorofluorocarbons. The category does not include GHG emissions, which are addressed in a separate category.
- Energy Management
Water & Wastewater ManagementThe 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
- Ecological Impacts
- Human Rights & Community Relations
- Customer Privacy
- Data Security
- Access & Affordability
- Product Quality & Safety
- Customer Welfare
- Selling Practices & Product Labeling
- Labor Practices
- Employee Health & Safety
- Employee Engagement, Diversity & Inclusion
Business Model and Innovation
Product Design & Lifecycle ManagementThe 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 ManagementThe category addresses management of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) risks within a company’s supply chain. It addresses issues associated with environmental and social externalities created by suppliers through their operational activities. Such issues include, but are not limited to, environmental responsibility, human rights, labor practices, and ethics and corruption. Management may involve screening, selection, monitoring, and engagement with suppliers on their environmental and social impacts. The category does not address the impacts of external factors – such as climate change and other environmental and social factors – on suppliers’ operations and/or on the availability and pricing of key resources, which is covered in a separate category.
- Materials Sourcing & Efficiency
- Physical Impacts of Climate Change
Leadership and Governance
- Business Ethics
- Competitive Behavior
Management of the Legal & Regulatory EnvironmentThe category addresses a company’s approach to engaging with regulators in cases where conflicting corporate and public interests may have the potential for long-term adverse direct or indirect environmental and social impacts. The category addresses a company’s level of reliance upon regulatory policy or monetary incentives (such as subsidies and taxes), actions to influence industry policy (such as through lobbying), overall reliance on a favorable regulatory environment for business competitiveness, and ability to comply with relevant regulations. It may relate to the alignment of management and investor views of regulatory engagement and compliance at large.
Critical Incident Risk ManagementThe category addresses the company’s use of management systems and scenario planning to identify, understand, and prevent or minimize the occurrence of low-probability, high-impact accidents and emergencies with significant potential environmental and social externalities. It relates to the culture of safety at a company, its relevant safety management systems and technological controls, the potential human, environmental, and social implications of such events occurring, and the long-term effects to an organization, its workers, and society should these events occur.
- Systemic Risk Management
Disclosure Topics (Industry specific) for: Biofuels
Biofuel refineries generate air emissions that may include hazardous air pollutants, criteria air pollutants, and volatile organic compounds. Emissions are generated by grain-handling equipment, boilers, wastewater treatment, and cooling, drying, distillation, and fermentation units. In most regions, such emissions are typically subject to regional and federal regulation that seeks to limit emissions below specific thresholds. As a result, air emissions are often subject to emissions permits and abatement can result in operating costs or require capital expenditures. Entities may also face regulatory compliance costs and penalties, as well as permit restrictions or delays from state and local agencies, if facilities are not compliant with regulations.
Water Management in Manufacturing
Biofuel refining is water-intensive. Biorefineries require water for feedstock processing, fermentation, distillation and cooling. Although water use at biorefineries is modest relative to the quantities consumed during feedstock crop production, it is concentrated, and thus may affect local water resources. Facilities also may generate wastewater containing salts, organic compounds, dissolved solids, phosphorus and other substances, requiring wastewater treatment. Biofuel refineries also may face reduced water availability, related cost increases or operational disruptions. Water extraction from particular areas for refining, as well as contamination of water supplies because of refining operations, also could create regulatory risk and tensions with local communities. Water efficiency in operations and the proper treatment of effluents are therefore important for biofuels entities.
Lifecycle Emissions Balance
The rapid growth in global biofuels production has been encouraged by government energy policies that seek to reduce net GHG emissions from transportation fuels and dependence on fossil fuels. Most major renewable-fuel policies worldwide require that biofuels achieve lifecycle GHG emissions reductions relative to a fossil-fuel baseline to qualify for renewable fuel-mandate thresholds. The biofuel lifecycle emission calculation may include indirect and direct emissions from feedstock crop production and land use, fuel refining, fuel and feedstock transport, and vehicle exhaust emissions. Biofuel producers may influence net emissions directly during the refining process through energy management (fuel use), process innovations and by using feedstocks with lower emissions profiles. Fuel products that achieve a reduction in net emissions may qualify as advanced biofuels, which could increase future demand. Biofuel entities that cost-effectively reduce product net carbon emissions may gain a competitive product advantage, spur revenue growth and increase market share.
Sourcing & Environmental Impacts of Feedstock Production
The Biofuels industry uses a variety of plant-based feedstocks for production. Most entities purchase feedstocks from agricultural producers and distributors. A growing proportion of the world’s arable land now is occupied by biofuel crops. Unsustainable cultivation practices can have negative environmental externalities, including deforestation and biodiversity loss, soil degradation, and water pollution. These factors may affect feedstock crop yields adversely over the short- and long-term. This, in turn, may influence the price and availability of feedstocks for biofuels producers. Consequently, vetting the sustainability of supply chains, such as through certifications or engagement with suppliers, is an important consideration for biofuels producers.
Management of the Legal & Regulatory Environment
The Biofuels industry is dependent on government policies and regulations that create market demand and incentivise supply with tax breaks and other support for feedstock production. The Biofuels industry supports some regulations and policies related to renewable fuel policy, production tax credits and feedstock production. While regulatory support can result in positive short-term gains by supporting the biofuels market, the potential long-term adverse environmental impacts from feedstock and biofuels production may result in a reversal of beneficial policies, leading to a more uncertain regulatory environment. Consequently, biofuels entities may benefit from developing clear strategies for engaging regulators that are aligned with long-term sustainable business outcomes and that account for environmental externalities.
Operational Safety, Emergency Preparedness & Response
Biofuel production presents operational safety hazards because of the presence of flammable and explosive substances, high temperatures, and pressurised equipment. Process safety incidents can damage facilities, injure workers, and affect the local environment and communities. While the frequency of occurrence of accidents in the industry is relatively low, when they do take place, the outcomes may be acute, with significant impacts on financial performance. Damaged facilities can be inoperable for extended periods, resulting in lost revenues and large capital expenditures for repairs. Entities perceived to be at a greater risk for process safety incidents may have a higher cost of capital, while workforce injuries could result in regulatory penalties and litigation. Conversely, entities with a strong safety culture and operational safety oversight can more effectively detect and respond to such incidents, mitigating potential financial risks and improving operational efficiency.