Here’s How to Implement Sustainability Reporting in Your Stores
As chain stores look to become more sustainable, the first steps they should take are setting environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals and implementing sustainability reporting so they can track their progress.
According to McKinsey, “More than 90 percent of S&P 500 companies now publish ESG reports in some form, as do approximately 70 percent of Russell 1000 companies.” The increasing importance of sustainability reporting among large companies is evident, and no business is too small to join the trend.
With sustainability reporting in your stores, you will gain:
- A better understanding of the impact of your operations and compliance with regulations
- A competitive edge by demonstrating your commitment to sustainability
- Clear identification of areas for improvement by tracking progress over time
So, how can you get started developing a sustainability reporting framework? Here is my three-step approach:
Know where to start
The first step is to determine which approach will yield the most effective results at the lowest cost.
While there are likely many areas within your business that offer ample opportunity to become more sustainable (such as by reducing energy consumption or implementing green building practices for future stores), the one area that will provide the biggest bang for your buck is increasing waste diversion rates.
Waste diversion is the process of separating, collecting, and recycling or composting waste materials. It is a crucial element of the waste management process as it reduces the amount of waste that is sent to landfills. Some states have recycling regulations, making it mandatory for businesses in those states to divert certain materials away from landfills and into recycling or composting streams.
Collect data, and lots of it
Now that you are prioritizing waste diversion, you will need to get a baseline on your stores’ current diversion metrics.
To do this, you will need to gather data from all store locations. This should include items such as waste generated, waste diverted, and the types of materials diverted. Collecting this data will give a complete view of your stores’ current waste management practices and help set realistic, achievable goals.
Once you have collected this data, you can use it to create a sustainability reporting framework that is tailored to your stores’ specific needs. This framework should include a set of metrics that will be used to measure your progress and the ability to track and report on these metrics over time. It should also include the ability to set achievable goals and compare your stores’ performance against industry standards.
Develop goals that are tailored to your stores’ specific needs
Lastly, your stores should develop sustainability goals tailored to their individual needs and that can track their environmental impact.
To do this, it is helpful to have all your data in one centralized waste, recycling, and sustainability management platform so it’s easy to see how the environmental footprint of each of your stores is affected by its waste. Your sustainability management platform of choice should include a number of key reports, such as diversion, material profile, and carbon reduction reports, as well as greenhouse gas (GHG) protocol and spend by materials reports. It should also give you the ability to understand your business’s environmental impact though Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) WARM and EPA Emissions Factors reporting.
Using these reports, you can set waste diversion targets, develop key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics, and implement continuous improvement initiatives.
Chain stores are increasingly looking to become more sustainable, and implementing sustainability reporting in your stores is the first step towards achieving this goal.