Greater progress needed for businesses adopting sustainable practices

Despite all the talk of incorporating sustainability practices into business, companies are still not making great changes.

This is the conclusion of GreenBiz.com’s seventh annual assessment of corporate sustainability trends and metrics, which says for all the advancements and achievements businesses aren’t making that much progress. When year-on-year progress is measured it is a disappointing state of affairs. In most cases progress is incremental, but in some it’s flat or declining.

State of Green Business is compiled with Trucost, and reviews 500 US companies that make up the Standard & Poor’s Index, and the MSCI World Index, covering more than 1,600 companies in 24 developed markets.

The lack of progress goes across different environmental sectors, including waste, water use, air emissions and carbon.

Latest report calls for quicker progress

report cover

It’s not all doom and gloom as many practices that a few years ago would have been regarded as innovative are now normal processes. There are companies using bio-based products, accounting systems that place a realistic value on water and carbon and supply chains that optimise transportation and energy.

The report authors don’t see things changing in the near future particularly when it comes to transparency and disclosure. While the number of companies issuing sustainability reports continues to grow the amount of data being reported is levelling off. The report says, “we may soon reach the point where companies have picked the low-hanging fruit on disclosure and transparency. That is, companies are saying most of what they plan to say about their environmental performance and impacts.”

However there is an optimistic outlook, powered by significant shifts in attitudes and insight among companies and their investors and customers, the growth in technology and growing recognition from the public that sustainability encompasses public health, food security and community well-being.

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