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Sustainability Assessment and Reporting Standards Proliferate

Posted By Jeff Moad, May 27, 2011 at 11:55 AM, in Category: Sustainability

As manufacturers continue to look for objective ways to assess their own sustainability performance and to document their sustainability achievements externally, the number of "standard" assessment and reporting protocols and tools has proliferated. The International Organization for Standards' ISO 14001-2004 and related guidelines establish measurable, verifiable environmental performance indicators that can be used to assess a manufacturing company's performance across a number of sustainability issues such as environmental impact, health and safety, and social responsibility.

But several other assessment and reporting standards exist, including the Global Reporting initiative (GRI), the Global Environmental Management Initiative (GEMI), and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBSCD) guidelines. Each of these proposes to measure and report on a company's sustainability performance.

Meanwhile, the latest standard to emerge is ULE 880, a standard under development by by a division of Underwriters Laboratories and a collection of environmental groups. Designed principally as a tool to help large manufacturers make sustainable procurement decisions, ULE 880 incorporates some of the same frameworksk as earlier sustainability assessment and reporting tools.The plan is for ULE 880 also to include a certification process.

The proliferation of such standards underscores the fact that many organizations are taking sustainability seriously. But the number of assessment and reporting standards out there can create confusion.

Has your organization begun to evaluate the multitude of sustainability standards that are out there? Hav you aligned with one of them at this point? How important is that we get to a single sustainability standard framework that is recognized worldwide? Is that feasible?

Category: Sustainability
Written by Jeff Moad

Jeff Moad is Research Director and Executive Editor with the Manufacturing Leadership Community. He also directs the Manufacturing Leadership Awards Program. Follow our LinkedIn Groups: Manufacturing Leadership Council and Manufacturing Leadership Summit


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