Chemistry, Materials & Packaging
Materiality Assessment Finds Materials, Transparency, GHGs Critical Issues for Cleaning Products Industry

The American Cleaning Institute (ACI) released the first-ever industry materiality assessment in its 2015 Sustainability Report on Tuesday. Sustainability analytics firm Framework LLC conducted the assessment using data from across the sector’s value chain to map critical risks and opportunities, and found materials, transparency, and greenhouse gases among the top concerns for the $30 billion cleaning products industry.

ACI’s new report uses data from 33 of its corporate members to report on four key environmental areas: Energy, Climate, Water, and Waste. The former three were identified as Material issues by the materiality assessment and waste was identified as a Priority issue. Highlights from each include:

  • Over 30 percent increase in absolute amount of electricity from renewable energy sources since 2008;
  • 21 percent reduction in water used per ton of production since 2009;
  • 18 percent overall reduction in waste since 2009; and
  • 9 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2009 levels.

The materiality matrix (pictured above) demonstrates the importance of each issue to internal stakeholders (companies in the industry) on the horizontal axis, and to external stakeholders on the vertical axis. Since no one company operates in every stage of the value chain, the analysis is not applicable at the company level; rather, the exercise has allowed ACI to identify areas of focus for their work at the industry level.

The top 10 issues to internal and external stakeholders of the cleaning products industry were identified as:

  • Materials: Safety of chemical ingredients; raw material sourcing and scarcity
  • Disclosure and Transparency: Public disclosure of information related to sustainability, governance, and products
  • Climate change / Greenhouse gases: Climate risks and opportunities; emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs)
  • Ecological Impacts: Biodiversity; deforestation; environmental management; responsible agricultural practices
  • Water: Water use, wastewater treatment, and water recycling
  • Workplace Health and Safety: Health and safety management; health and wellness training programs
  • Waste: Hazardous and non-hazardous waste; management of product end-of-life
  • Energy: Energy use; renewable energy
  • Supply Chain Management: Screening business partners on ethics and sustainability issues
  • Compliance: Compliance with environmental, health, and safety regulations

Framework LLC followed a process developed specifically for industry-level evaluation. It began with the creation of a value chain map for the industry and a comprehensive list of potentially material issues as a basis for analysis. A representative sample of ACI member companies was surveyed and interviewed, and documents from the industry and external stakeholders (including NGOs and government agencies) were evaluated for each stage of the value chain to determine the level of stakeholder concern for each issue. Equal representation was given to all identified stages when the results were synthesized for the materiality matrix.

The 2015 Sustainability Report is ACI’s third biennial report and captured sustainability performance metrics for 17.3 million metric tons of cleaning product-related production. The organization expects to see continued improvement across each area over time; 25 of its member companies have committed to continual sustainability performance improvement through participation in ACI’s Charter for Sustainable Cleaning. Well-known members include AkzoNobel Chemicals LLC, Amway, BASF Corporation, The Clorox Company, Colgate-Palmolive Company, The Dow Chemical Company, DuPont Industrial Biosciences, Henkel Consumer Goods Inc., Proctor & Gamble, SC Johnson, Seventh Generation, and Shell Chemical LP.

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