Moving forward our ESG Strategy
Content in this section is extracted from the Accsys Technologies PLC Annual Report 2020
Accsys offers the world a choice to build more sustainably, and we are committed to improving the positive impact we can make in Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) areas.
For more information about Accsys’ activities in these areas over the last year (2019-2020), please see the Annual Report or: Our Environmental Impact, Our approach to Health and Safety, and Our People.
ESG as a part of Accsys
Our sourcing, technology, processes, purpose and products already align with several UN Sustainability Development Goals, and we’re proud to be one of the companies awarded the LSE’s Green Economy Mark.
Our strong governance framework and commitment to people in and around our business are a source of pride, however we always want to improve further and develop these along with the sustainability of our business practices and processes.
Our purpose of ‘changing wood to change the world’ and our ability to contribute to a more sustainable built environment underpins everything we do. We aim to ensure that moving forward, we are able to grow sustainably and maximise the sustainability impacts and opportunities not just of our products, but also in how we operate.
That is why this year (2020), we contracted a third-party stakeholder engagement and sustainability consultancy to help us assess and identify Accsys’ material issues and assist in developing our ESG strategy. This materiality assessment has identified the 11 material issues which are most pertinent to Accsys.
Focusing on issues that matter the most
There is an increasing focus from our investors and other stakeholders on ESG performance. It is important that we are transparent about our priority ESG matters and their impacts on our key stakeholders. The findings of the materiality assessment are also central to the development of fully informed ESG strategies.
Internal and external stakeholders all identified responsible sourcing, sustainable products and various other global environmental megatrends
as highly relevant and important.
Governance also featured significantly, with internal stakeholders in particular believing governance qualities to be a paramount enabler of business growth, noting that we have already made great progress in our governance.
Social factors have been especially highlighted in recent months, and are also considered to be materially significant both separately and integrated with other topics where there is overlap between our actions as a business and our impacts on our people and the societies which we affect.
Further information and detail on our material issues will be published as we continue to develop our ESG strategy.
Our approach to materiality
Our materiality assessment consisted of a desk-based research, which ensured that all pertinent perceptions of our approach to ESG were captured. The methodology was based on a full review of AccountAbility’s AA1000 Principles Standard; the International Integrated Reporting Council’s (‘IIRC’) Integrated Reporting Framework; the Global Reporting Initiative (‘GRI’) Standards; UN Sustainable Development Goals (‘SDGs’); Dow Jones Sustainability Index (‘DJSI’) and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (‘SASB’) guidance. The process ensures that all relevant issues have been considered appropriately within the scope of the study.
The materiality assessment specifically considered issues under the umbrella of ESG and sustainability; and the assessment analysed data and information from a variety of internal and external sources to ensure that all potential issues were considered and captured.
The assessment also included stakeholder engagement, where we identified our key internal and external stakeholders. This stakeholder engagement included a range of interviews focus groups and an online engagement survey, which tested a range of issues on their importance and relevance; stakeholders also had the opportunity to provide voluntary feedback.
As we continue with our ESG strategy development, we will report in more detail on our material issues and ambitions in these areas. We aim to launch the ESG strategy in our full sustainability report at the end of the year, as part of our continued commitment towards high quality disclosure on our progress and activities.
Looking back at the financial year ended 31 March 2020, we have concentrated on three major areas that have been and will remain very important:
Our Corporate Vision
We want to ensure that our business is not only a commercial success, but also run in a responsible fashion as we continue to advance technologies for a better world.
Accsys has already developed and is commercially producing Accoya® solid acetylated wood. We have developed the process for the production of Tricoya® acetylated wood elements, used for the production of panel products.
Accoya® is Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Gold. As part of that certification, our supply chain, production processes and procedures have been examined and scored on categories including: Material Health (Platinum), Material Reutilisation (Gold), Renewable Energy & Carbon Management (Gold), Water Stewardship (Gold) and Social Fairness (Gold).
Accsys aims to reduce the use of environmentally unfriendly building materials and products through our propriety technology and the introduction and uptake of our products around the world.
The planet continues to consume endangered materials like tropical hardwood and non-renewable, high emitting building materials such as plastics, concrete and metals at an alarming rate.
Our acetylated wood products offer alternative, sustainable new materials that resolve many of the environmental limitations that commonly used building materials have, whilst not compromising on performance.
In fact, Accoya® is the only building product perfectly fitting in the bio-cycle of the circular economy while having the same performance as typical techno-cycle building products such as plastics and metals which cannot be renewed and have a high carbon footprint.
Accsys is also committed to continuing R&D concerning our products (applications and new wood species) and processes. This ongoing development is designed to increase the use and improve the environmental and efficiency benefits of our products.
This will ensure we continue to respond to the growing global ambition of consumers to live sustainably, reduce the growth of plastic pollution and tackle climate change and in turn will benefit many of our stakeholders.
Our products and the environment
The main environmental benefit of our Accoya® and Tricoya® acetylated wood products is their use as a substitute for other environmentally damaging products including chemically treated woods that use toxic preservatives, unsustainably sourced tropical timbers and materials produced from energy intensive or nonrenewable resources such as metals (for example, steel and aluminium) and plastics (such as PVC).
During their growth, trees convert carbon dioxide (CO2) through photosynthesis into cellulose and lignin and emit oxygen in the process. As a result, during their lifespan trees act as carbon sinks, as CO2 is captured from the atmosphere and makes up approximately half of the dry weight stored in the wood of the tree.
The carbon is stored in the living tree, but will also remain stored once the tree is felled and the wood of the tree is used for products such as Accoya® and Tricoya®. As a consequence, CO2 is locked out of the natural carbon cycle during the lifespan of the wood or wood product.
Through decay or incineration, the carbon will eventually be released again into the atmosphere in the form of CO2. In producing Accoya® wood, we improve this carbon capture mechanism in two ways.
Firstly by using fast growing softwood species, such as radiata pine, as input for our acetylation process. Per hectare, more cubic metres of radiata pine can be grown (10 m3 /ha/ year) compared to other wood species. Consequently, a larger amount of carbon is sequestered compared to slow growing wood species in the same time period.
Secondly, through the acetylation process the dimensional stability and durability of a wood species are improved considerably, lengthening the product lifespan. Thus Accoya® wood (durability class 1 according to EN standard 350) is able to act as a carbon sink for longer and requiring less additional care than other woods.
These unique properties allow us to provide a warranty on Accoya® wood for 50 years above ground and 25 years below ground (please see our Certificates of Warranty for full details), usefully trapping carbon for decades while new trees are grown.