Company-wide Sustainability Management
Material Sustainability Issues
The sustainability issues and definitions from the previous year were used as the basis for the materiality analysis conducted in the reporting period. These issues were reviewed in interviews with selected external stakeholders, with topics being updated as necessary. In addition, the list was expanded to include topics that were identified as relevant for Covestro on the basis of the latest sector guidelines or in the course of stakeholder interviews or peer reviews. With current trends and developments in mind, the stakeholders assessed the degree of relevance for Covestro of each of these topics. The issues were subsequently discussed and analyzed from an internal perspective in a workshop and other one-on-one discussions with Covestro experts in various fields.
We reviewed and updated the materiality analysis in four stages:
1. Review of previous year’s sustainability issues
Prior to the stakeholder interviews, some changes were made to the previous year’s sustainability issues and their definitions. For instance, the “Sustainable Procurement” topic was renamed “Sustainability in the Supply Chain” to better reflect the actual thematic issues.
2. Interviews with external stakeholders
Specially trained Covestro personnel conducted seven structured interviews with stakeholder groups relevant to Covestro (suppliers, associations, non-governmental organizations, scientific institutions, the capital market and competitors). Covestro is continually in touch with customers worldwide through our sales and marketing staff and constantly evaluates their feedback. When selecting interviewees, the focus was on having key stakeholder groups represented through multipliers and on ensuring a broad international perspective. Sustainability issues from the previous year were discussed along with new topics identified by stakeholders. Both the direct impact of issues on Covestro’s business success and indirect effects through the influence of third parties were considered.
3. Internal workshop with experts from various Covestro divisions
The correctness and completeness of the definitions of relevant topics were reviewed by experts from various Covestro divisions as part of a materiality workshop. The updated prior-year issues plus the new topics identified by external stakeholders were evaluated in terms of their relevance for Covestro from an internal perspective. The results of both the internal and external assessments were then plotted in a materiality matrix.
4. Updating the materiality matrix
The materiality matrix was updated and approved by the Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) based on the results of the stakeholder interviews and the internal materiality workshop.
The materiality matrix is presented in the Group Management Report. The topics considered to be of high or very high relevance from an internal and external point of view were used to select the key aspects and indicators in line with the “core” option of the GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards (GRI SRS).
The various aspects of the material sustainability issues presented in the materiality matrix are outlined below. The sustainability issues are listed by priority according to external stakeholders, with the associated aspects in alphabetical order.
A further detailed explanation of the sustainability issues is provided in the individual sections of the present GRI Supplement and in the 2018 Annual Report.
High or very high relevance from an internal and external perspective:
Innovative solutions for climate change mitigation and adaptation
- Development of solutions for optimal carbon productivity
- Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions along the entire value chain by developing products, business models and processes
- Solutions for adaptation to climate change
Innovative solutions that contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals
- Contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals through innovative products, processes and business models
- Commitment and standards exceeding the statutory requirements
- Comprehensive assessment of health, safety and environmental risks and transparent presentation of results
- Safe products during their entire life cycle, from research, production, marketing and use by the customer through to disposal, including unintended consequences
Resource-efficient circular economy solutions
- Development of innovative circular economy solutions
- Innovative products, business models and process improvements that make circular material flows resource-efficient and economically viable
Occupational health and safety
- Prevention of accidents and incidents during everyday operations on premises and when traveling
- Promotion of health at the workplace in production facilities and when traveling
Environmentally efficient operations
- Efficient use of resources such as water and energy
- Minimization of emissions into the air (particularly Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gases) and into water
- Preventing the release of plastics into the environment
- Reduction of waste and its transport
- Responsible recycling
Business ethics, human rights and transparency
- Adherence to internal standards for integrity, corporate governance, compliance, combating corruption, lobbying, respect for human rights, and zero tolerance for forced or child labor
- Strict compliance with all statutory requirements and appropriate conduct toward all stakeholders at all times
- Transparent and honest reporting
Sustainability in the supply chain
- Adherence to sustainability standards by suppliers along the entire supply chain
Medium relevance from an internal or external perspective:
- Adapting to the changing expectations of employees and applicants
- Digital transformation/future of work
- Encouraging volunteering
- Equal opportunities for a diverse workforce
- Right to collective bargaining, good relationships with employees, workforce representatives and trade unions
- Work-life balance, competitive compensation, opportunities for advancement
Political and social acceptance
- Communicate openly about the negative aspects of plastic products
- Informing society of the positive contribution of high-quality materials
- Plastics industry is the key industry for innovative materials
Biobased plastics / resources
- Development of biobased alternatives to products from fossil sources irrespective of the concomitant changes in resource efficiency
- Donations, partnerships and volunteering
- Supporting and strengthening relationships with local communities in the vicinity of Covestro sites
- Cooperation with various industry, political and societal stakeholders at the national and international level to develop effective solutions for underserved markets