Sustainability | Environmental

What To Include In A Sustainability Report?

Sep 20, 2022 | Surabhi Agarwal

Section I - Details about the Company

  1. About the Company

(This section essentially discloses all relevant information about the company and its activities and resources. It should be written in lucid language so that it is easily readable for all stakeholders)

This could include:

1.1. Legal information about the company (Legal status, address, when it was founded, etc)

1.2. Brief history

1.3. The products or services that they offer

1.4. Structure of the organisation (Employees, whether its B2B, B2C, etc)

1.5. What there target market is (Where they operate, their markets)

This section can also include the way they are financed (if anyone has invested in the company), the number and location of stores (if any) among other information. The potential risks and where exactly they lie in the value chain can be included here too. (This can also be included in the Sustainability Report subheading.)

  1. The Company’s Value System/ Social Commitment

(Here the enterprise describes its ethical orientation to support strategic decisions while keeping in mind its role inside the community. The certifications and code of conduct followed must be included. This might vary according to the location in which the enterprise operates; specific codes can be included keeping this in mind. (This can also be included in the Sustainability Report part that follows this sub-heading)

This would essentially entail:

2.1. Mission, vision and organisation values

2.2. Ethics, Compliance and Corporate Governance (Describing how your ethics and compliance function adheres to applicable laws and company policies, Codes of Ethics 

2.3. Certifications, recognitions, adopted codes

2.4. Role in the society and future commitment 

  1. Sustainability Report 

(This part contains all the information regarding the document – the basic reasons and the methods followed in its formulation, specifying which guidelines have been taken as references. Any changes made in form and content compared with the previous version have to be included as well. Some information about the report creator must be included for further contact or information.)

3.1. Report purpose

3.2. Reporting period (when it becomes publicly available can also be included)

3.3. Guidelines/principles/standards followed in the reporting

3.4. Guidelines followed in the previous edition of the report and significant changes, if any

3.5. If any consultant is consulted for the report, their views, their suggestions on any drawbacks and the plan to eliminate those next year

3.6. The SDG Goals that affect the area of business 

3.7. Contact person for the report

A letter from CEO/ Director/ Senior Management can be added here to add a personal touch

Section II - Financial/Economic Impact 

  1. Economic performance indicators

(This part connects the components of the balance sheet with the sustainability report including information on available financial resources and economic performances.)

1.1 Enterprise’s resources (working capital and assets, etc)

1.2 Financial review (sales, profit/loss)

2. Impact in terms of purchases, investments and value added

(The economic dimension mainly concerns the enterprise’s impacts on the economic circumstances of its stakeholders. The indication of future plans regarding the economic impacts is also encouraged.)

2.1 Purchases

2.2 Investments

2.3 Value added: calculation and allocation

This section merely helps the stakeholders get a better understanding of the company’s performance. 

Section III – Social Impact 

(Here, under all sub-heads, the SDG goal achieved, if any, should be mentioned) 

  1. Identification and selection of major stakeholders 

(Here the enterprise can identify the stakeholders the report is addressed)

  1. Relations with employees 

(This section encloses all the agreements the company has introduced (or is going to introduce) in order to improve the relations with employees, increasing their satisfaction and the workplace conditions. This section would also include the company’s perspective towards how employees must be treated.)

2.1. Number of employees (Can include ratio of diverse employees, male female ratio amongst others)

2.2. Selection and management policies (Code of conduct used here)

2.3. Workers’ average stay in the company (Labour turnover can also be included to make it more standardised)

2.4. Personnel satisfaction (Feedback mechanism should be mentioned, if they have a good work life balance)

2.5. Health and safety in workplace (Any injuries, accidents in the past, the compensation provided if any)

2.6. Equality of treatment (hierarchy, the relationship between the members belonging to different rungs of the hierarchy, any team bonding activities)

2.7. Training

2.8. Employees’ benefits (compensation, bonuses, other benefits like fringe, EPF; paid/travel leaves, maternity/paternity leaves, mental health/fitness program access, etc; do they have a WFH option?)

2.9. Plans and upcoming commitment

2.10. Diversity & Inclusion can also be included separately especially if the company has a set of goals put down relating to them (This could also include SDG goals) 

3. Relations with customers

(The customers are one of the main stakeholders; their choice of buying the company’s product directly impacts the company’s profits. Not only the direct clients, but also the final customers have to be considered, including information on the company’s efforts and plans to improve customers’ satisfaction and protection.)

3.1. General description (A more comprehensive description of the products the enterprise deals in) 

3.2. Product/service safety and quality information (Quality checks & certifications, any quality process followed)

3.3. Relationship towards customers and level of involvement (Again an explanation of the value chain wrt the customers would be helpful here) 

3.4. Customers’ satisfaction (Review system, the kind of services provided after sales, warranty, if any, customer service, etc) 

3.5. Privacy protection and management of customers’ data (Disclosure of the third party that gets access to the data, if any)

3.6. Plans and upcoming commitments 

4. Relations with suppliers

(The company could exert pressures and control on its suppliers that influence its outputs.

Suppliers have to guarantee products and services respecting qualitative standards and established schedules.)

4.1. General description (The number, the kind, their location, the materials sourced, the kind of sustainability standards they follow)

4.2. Policy for supplier selection and control (Steps take to ensure that no malpractice is indulged in)

4.3. Policy for support (Any sort of upliftment of community, any SDG goal, etc can be included here, the diversity of suppliers if the company buys from small businesses, women owned business or minority owned businesses; Eg: Link)

4.4. Dialogue/collaboration with suppliers (if transport is ethical, clean, the feedback mechanism, the contracts, etc)

4.5. Plans and upcoming commitments 

5. Relations with the local community:

(An understanding of the social context of the company is important in order to truly understand its impact. This section includes all the actions undertaken to increase the territory’s affluence and citizens’ living and all the plans the company intends to accomplish in order to improve them.)

5.1. Contribution in supporting local community 

5.2. Economically reviving activities

5.3. Description of training events towards local community

5.4. Plans and upcoming commitments

5.5. Any donations, scholarships, and sponsorships can also be included
5.6. If any employee has volunteered at a company level for the society and the impact it created can be included

Example: Link

6. Relations with public authorities

(All the initiatives to improve the dialogue with the public authorities that go beyond the management of regulations and controls have to be enclosed, specifying the choice’s criteria and rules held by the company, evaluating results and effects of these actions)

6.1. Collaboration programme with public authorities

6.2. Plans and upcoming commitments

7. Other stakeholders

(This section is dedicated to describing the relation and collaboration that the enterprise might have with any stakeholders not mentioned before. This could include banks, insurance companies, ecologist associations and so on)

Section IV Environmental impact (Company should include those that are relevant to them)

1. Environmental policy

(The environment aspect and the sustainable management of the company comes here. A detailed description of the policy principles, any criticisms and failures of the company on the sustainability end and the existing environmental certifications have to be mentioned here.)

1.1. Environmental critical level

1.2. Environmental policy and programme

1.3. Certification and/or adopted standards and existing control

2. Raw materials use

(The use of raw materials is a significant aspect of the production process – not only data concerning utilisation and rejects, but also company strategies in order to improve the management of this aspect, reducing amount and potential impact after use, have to be included)

2.1. Amount of used raw materials (How these raw materials meet the environmental design principles, if hazardous substances are avoided, resource usage is minimised and how the 3Rs: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle are put to use)

2.2. Amount of imperfect goods per type of raw material

2.3. Criteria for minimization of environmental impact when designing products and choosing materials 

2.4. Environmental criteria for supplier selection (This can be included here or in the Impact section under Suppliers)

3. Energy use 

(Energy consumption has to be considered in the company’s environmental frame, to encourage its optimization through the introduction of alternative sources (hydroelectricity, wind-energy, solar-energy.)

3.1. Total amount of consumed energy 

3.2. Existing policies/instruments for minimising energy consumption

3.3. Plans to reduce the emission

4. Water use and wastewater

(The rational use of water and for improving the wastewater quality, based on data and qualitative analysis is included here. The re-use of industrial wastewater (after an appropriate treatment) should be encouraged.)

4.1. Total amount of consumed water

4.2. Existing policies/instruments for minimising water consumption

4.3. Plans to reduce the emission

5. Air emissions

(Air emissions from the production process contribute to damage the surrounding environment; A document has to be added with the list of critical emissions, illustrating, if available, pollutants and their quantitative progress during the last years and underlining all the actions undertaken to minimise their production and diffusion in the atmosphere.)

5.1. List of critical air emissions (Emission of Greenhouse Gases, the GHG Emissions indicator can be used throughout the value chain)

5.2. Existing policies/instruments for minimising dangerous emissions

5.3. Plans to reduce the emission

6. Outdoor and indoor noise

(All the information related to both types of noise, particularly those of manufacturing tools, must be reduced keeping in mind the health of employees and neighbours.)

6.1. Level of generated noise

6.2. Existing policies/instruments for minimising outdoor and indoor noise

6.3. Plans to reduce the emission

7. Waste management

(This part is related to the production, stocking, treatment and disposal of waste. The data collection is made easy by the obligatory annual environmental declaration in many countries. All plans to reduce the production, promote differentiated collection and manage a sustainable

disposal should be emphasised.)

7.1. List of dangerous wastes and their disposal

7.2. Existing policies for recycling and minimising wastes

7.3. Existing policies for reducing and reusing packaging wastes

7.4. Future Plans to reduce the impact of waste

8. Transport

(Transport traffic is one of the major issues that is contributing to pollution. Here the company’s commitment to reduce this traffic on account of both product and employee transportation is displayed.)

8.1 Existing policies for reducing the environmental impact of transport (How product transportation is optimised, if any benefits/carpool system is active for the employees, etc)

9. Environmental impact of products

(The company’s products, at the end of their life cycle, have an environmental impact. This section should include, if they exist, responsibilities and measures taken by the company regarding customers when the product is sold.)

9.1 Evaluation of environmental impact (The R&D investment so as to make sure that the product developed in sustainable)

9.2. Product End-of-Life (Can also include how much the company gets involved in the repair, refurbishment and recycling of their products at the end of the product life cycle)

10. Future plans and upcoming commitments for environmental protection 

(This is public commitment towards continual improvement of the company’s environmental performance, minimising the impact of its production process and contributing to the progress of the territory where the company operates.)

Section V - Next Steps

(Here, the report is effectively communicated to the stakeholder. Other future plans are also included here.)

1. Measure progress over time. 

This means setting goals, possibly years in advance, and collecting accurate, relevant data.

2. Ask for feedback from stakeholders and other interested parties, and consider their recommendations as you write your next report. 

Their opinions will be instrumental in ensuring your future reports are increasingly relevant and effective.

3. A pledge to improve environmental sustainability reports over time and making it a tool that drives positive, ongoing changes.

Section VI - Sustainability Reporting Standards (This section is similar to the section on Sustainability Reporting and can be clubbed together)

1. External Reporting Standards  

1.1. Recognising the importance of external sustainability reporting standards to promote relevant, transparent and comparable disclosure of company performance. 

1.2. Mention the reporting framework: GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) with the specific framework

2. Reporting Framework Index

If, for example, the GRI Guidelines are followed, the application level is mentioned and a table can be made to cross reference the different requirements with the different parts of the report. 

3. Auditor’s Verification Statement 

The contact details of the person should also be included.

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