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SSAB's materiality analysis

The materiality analysis has served as an important input to SSAB’s sustainability strategy and targets as well as to our work to define the scope and boundaries of SSAB’s sustainability reporting. The materiality analysis is based on input from external key stakeholders such as customers, suppliers, investors, NGOs, industry associations and internal experts. The dialog with external stakeholders was managed through in-depth interviews and a web-survey.

 

The following steps were covered during the process:

Inventory and mapping – desktop analysis

As a first step, we conducted a desktop analysis to identify trends and global drivers. The analysis combined with internal workshops served to identify all relevant aspects throughout SSAB’s value chain, both upstream and downstream.

Against the background of the value chain, relevant sub-activities and related sustainability impacts from an environmental, economic and social perspective were identified. Internal experts brought their respective evaluations of SSAB’s operations and impacts including customer and market insights, human resources, environment, health and safety, energy, supply chain management, anti-corruption, and investor relations. The result of the value-chain mapping was cross-checked against stakeholder expectations that were identified during the desktop research. 


Stakeholder dialogue and prioritization of material aspects

As a second step, the aspects identified from the desktop analysis were evaluated and ranked according to importance from the perspectives of both SSAB and external stakeholders. This was done through in-depth interviews with external stakeholders and a web-survey with key external and internal stakeholders to further prioritize the aspects. The result of the dialog with internal and external stakeholders was then calibrated in workshops with key internal experts, and confirmed in dialog with SSAB’s Group Executive Committee.


Results of the materiality analysis

The materiality analysis defined twelve aspects that form the base for our sustainability strategy and work. These twelve aspects are divided into three focus areas; Sustainable offering, Sustainable operations and Responsible partner.

SSAB’s material aspects identified in the materiality analysis

  1. Financial and operational performance 
  2. Emissions from steel production
  3. Health & Safety
  4. Potential of SSAB’s products and solutions, incl. high strength steels
  5. Energy efficiency
  6. Material efficiency
  7. Anti-corruption/Business ethics
  8. Customer satisfaction
  9. Recycling
  10. Labor/human rights in the supply chain
  11. Competence & leadership development
  12. Diversity

The top ten aspects are all to be found in the top right quadrant of the materiality matrix, meaning these aspects were identified by both internal and external stakeholders as most material for SSAB. Competence & leadership development and Diversity were not placed in the top right quadrant. Despite this, SSAB’s Group Executive Committee decided to include both aspects in our top sustainability priorities as both were seen as crucial for the long-term success of SSAB.
SSAB's materiality matrix

The sustainability aspects

Sustainable offering

Potential of SSAB´s products and solutions, incl. high strength steels
There are significant environmental benefits to be gained when upgrading to high-strength steels. Since high-strength steels are stronger than ordinary steels, less steel is needed to produce a specific steel application. This reduces the emissions from steel production. “Moving applications”, such as vehicles, excavators and cranes, made of high-strength steels have less weight, which in turn cuts fuel consumption or increases their pay-load. Stronger steel also means extended product life-time, thereby also reducing emissions.

Customer satisfaction
Customer satisfaction is a measure of how products and services supplied by a company meet or exceed customer expectations. In a competitive marketplace, customer satisfaction is seen as a key differentiator and key element of business strategy. Today, various aspects of sustainability – product lifecycle approach, material- and energy-efficient processes, and a responsible value chain – are increasingly important parameters impacting overall customer satisfaction.

 

Sustainable operations

Health & Safety
Steel production includes exposed and dangerous environments. This is why it is extremely important to have a strong focus on health & safety to minimize the risks of accidents. This responsibility extends to include company employees and contractors. 

Emissions from steel production
In blast furnaces, iron is produced by using coke and coal to reduce iron ore. This process creates carbon dioxide (CO2). Today, it is impossible to produce new steel without generating CO2 emissions. The process, which has been used for centuries, has been continually developed and improved to become highly efficient, and the residual energy is recovered in the form of district heating and electricity production. Scrap-based steel production emits significantly less CO2. Since there is currently not enough scrap available for recycling to meet the demand for new steel across the world, ore-based steel production using blast furnaces is still needed. Today, 30% of the demand for new steel can be covered with the scrap available globally.

Energy efficiency
Efficient use of energy is aimed at reducing the amount of energy required to provide products and services. Steel companies can reduce costs by finding alternative energy sources with less emissions, using less purchased energy, as well as feeding surplus energy into the grid. From a lifecycle perspective, this also creates positive effects and saves natural resources, thereby reducing CO2 emissions.

Material efficiency
Material efficiency means making more out of less material, resulting in increased efficiency in the use of natural resources. The production of iron and steel give rise to a range of residuals. Recirculating ferrous material back into the steelmaking process reduces the need for virgin raw materials. This in turn, reduces CO2 emissions and saves costs. Material that cannot be recirculated internally can be processed and sold externally to create new revenue streams. This reduces CO2 emissions by substituting natural resources in other industries. For example, blast furnace slag enables the cement industry to significantly reduce their CO2 emissions. Increasing internal recirculation of residuals and external sales of by-products will lead to reduced waste and less material will be sent to landfill.

Recycling
A critical element in reducing carbon emissions originating in the steel lifecycle is to optimize steel recycling. Steel is almost unique in its capacity to be infinitely recycled without loss of properties or performance. Steel is today the most recycled material globally, more than all other materials combined.

Competence and leadership development
It is critical for a company to attract, develop and retain people with the right competence and mindset. To do this, it is important to work actively with HR programs such as performance and planning dialogs between managers and employees, management reviews and succession planning, leadership training programs, employee development programs, diversity training and inclusion, etc.

Diversity
One of the most important challenges today is to engage, attract and retain employees with the right skill set. The creation of a more diverse workforce with different competences, experiences and backgrounds, and a workplace where everyone has equal opportunities, will lead to a stronger company culture and help to achieve better results.

Responsible partner

Anti-corruption/Business ethics
In today’s globalized world, anti-corruption and business ethics have become increasingly important for companies. Failure to address corruption, bribery and other issues related to business ethics will have negative impacts on the company’s reputation and brand.

Labor/human rights in the supply chain
Today, companies are increasingly expected to take responsibility, not only for labor and human rights in their own operations, but also within their supply chain. This includes evaluating supplier risks and suppliers´ ability to address labor and human rights; including no use of child or forced labor, a healthy and safe work environment, etc. Conducting risk assessments and supply chain monitoring through self-assessment questionnaires, audits and other follow-up systems are important tools to work with.


Financial and operational performance

We believe that by managing our business in a sustainable way we will increase our possibilities to deliver strong financial and operational results. That is why financial and operational performance is not included in one of the three focus areas, but rather should be seen as the outcome of performing well in all three areas.