Many of our members want to better understand the environmental sustainability impacts of their businesses and of the products which they make and sell. Ultimately they want to communicate these to their customers and consumers. The first step in addressing these issues is to understand and measure the impacts of our businesses and across our value chains. It is only then that we can prioritise resources to manage those impacts. What is missing today is a single global framework to be able to share readily comparable information between companies regulators, customers and NGOs.
The objective of our members, and The Consumer Goods Forum, is to achieve a common global system for measuring of environmental impacts starting with carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) not only for our direct business activities, but for the lifecycle of the products and services we sell. This will allow companies to manage GHG emission reductions more effectively because all partners will be talking the same language and using the same data sets. It will also help the industry to respond to initiatives for measurement and labelling from governments.
Although we are starting with greenhouse gases, we plan to extend our work over time to cover other sustainability issues.
Early focus from our members has been on carbon emissions and our members have made good progress in assessing the GHG impacts of their own operations. However, progress across the value chain/product lifecycle has been slower, reflecting its greater complexity.
In September 2010, the Board agreed that member companies should measure the GHG emissions of their own business operations using the WRI/WBCSD GHG Protocol and report through the Carbon Disclosure Project. This is the recognised global standard and reporting mechanism for companies.
For product lifecycle impacts standards are being drafted. There is no “one size fits all” solution available but we will encourage greater global harmonisation by:
- Adopting the WBCSD / WRI standards on product measurement;
- Working with The Sustainability Consortium to create harmonisation across the various national and international initiatives; and
- Promoting alignment in three key areas - those between us and regional industry associations, those between us and governement initiatives (including continued engagement with the EU Commission environmental foot-printing standards work), and those between all bodies developing measurement standards.
In November 2011, our Board approved partnering with The Sustainability Consortium to achieve a globally harmonised approach to measuring and communicating product lifecycles, while recognising local initiatives.