Thorough approaches | Improve management | Communicate performance
Once you are more familiar with sustainable manufacturing and tracking your performance indicators, you might want to expand your knowledge and benefit even further from improved sustainability performance.
Sustainable manufacturing is of great interest to many sectors in many regions and there are a wealth of tools and initiatives to help you get started and continue your journey. There are tools, websites, helplines and networks to support sustainability efforts in many local languages. There are also sector-specific guidelines, standards, performance benchmarks, case studies and awards programmes. This section provides a full list of useful links to other sustainable manufacturing related tools and initiatives that may help you go beyond measuring the OECD Sustainable Manufacturing Indicators and obtain guidance and advice that is more specific and relevant to your business.
Representative global tools to help you go further
Go further to improve environmental performance
While the 18 OECD Indicators are a great place to start, they are not exhaustive. To address your environmental impact more thoroughly, you could:
- Expand your performance indicators: As you develop, you might find that your impact and business value drivers relate to areas not addressed in this Toolkit. Keep making the most of your regular reviews of priority issues to identify these new areas and seek out other tools and expertise where you need them. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14031 standard gives general guidance on the design and use of environmental performance evaluation and on identification and selection of environmental performance indicators.
- Consider the whole lifecycle of your products: There are many methodologies available that take into account the total lifecycle impact of products from “cradle to grave”, including raw materials sourcing, refining, manufacturing, distribution, use and reuse/recycling/disposal. Although highly technical in data analysis and calculation, they enable you to compare similar products on the basis of their full impact and can help you design products with consideration for environment, cost and value from a very early stage of development. The most widely recognised is lifecycle assessment (LCA), which is standardised internationally as the ISO 14040 series, but other related concepts and methods are also increasingly being adopted by many companies.
- Use external standards for environmental performance: A wide range of product eco-labels and certification schemes exist and can provide good motivation to comprehensively improve your environmental performance. These labels set clear standards for performance in different environmental aspects and they may be developed by governments, industry groups or non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Attaining the standards set by such labels can give customers particular confidence in the environmental credentials of your products. The ISO 14020 series gives specific guidance on how environmental claims should be made and communicated.
Improve the way your management and strategy deal with sustainability issues
Environmental and social issues relate to many different internal management functions and if you are prepared to address them you can decrease risks as well as improve performance. You might do this through efforts to:
- Manage and improve performance systematically: An environmental management system (EMS) can help you manage and improve environmental performance systematically and can demonstrate commitment and professionalism with respect to sustainable manufacturing. It is a comprehensive approach to organisational structure, planning and resources aimed at developing, implementing and maintaining policies for achieving your environmental goals. Using an EMS can ensure continuous improvement using the “Plan, Do, Check, Act” cycle. The most commonly used frameworks are the ISO 14001 standard and the European Union’s Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS).
- Address the social and economic impact: Sustainable manufacturing is about more than improving environmental performance and while many companies begin with environmental aspects the social and economic dimensions are just as important. These might include: workplace quality issues; human rights; ethics; anti-corruption; and customer satisfaction. The economic aspect may go beyond the familiar financial issues to encompass your wider effects on the economy, such as job creation, tax payment and local development. In many respects, common standards are still emerging, though major strides have been made through the efforts of a variety of organisations, including the ISO 26000 social responsibility standard, the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Guidelines for Social Life Cycle Assessment of Products.
- Consider a comprehensive sustainability strategy: As you start to understand your environmental performance, you will begin to see how sustainability issues can affect: the markets in which you operate; your competitive environment; the ever-changing regulatory framework; and the expectations of your customers. You can use these perspectives to set goals and plans for the future of your business and your sustainability impact. Numerous tools and initiatives exist to help you in this respect. You could consult the UN Global Compact and the ISO 26000 standard as well as your local responsible business organisations or initiatives.
Communicate your performance to stakeholders
Different types of stakeholders have an interest in better understanding your environmental or sustainability performance. To meet these needs and to benefit from an increased understanding from your stakeholders, you could:
- Report emissions according to national registries: All OECD countries and several non-OECD countries introduced or have been introducing a Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR) scheme to quantify emissions of hazardous chemical substances and pollutants to the environment. A PRTR is a national or regional database of emissions based on reports provided by each facility to authorities. PRTR data collected by the authorities are made available to the public to support risk management of relevant stakeholders. As PRTR schemes vary in terms of the types of businesses that have to report and substances to be reported, it is important to check whether you should report under the PRTR scheme in your country or region. If you do have to report you must comply with the relevant scheme. Even if you do not have to report, you should follow the requirements and technical guidance to better understand the pollutants that you discharge into the environment. Some data items to be collected for calculating this Toolkit’s indicators are compatible with PRTR schemes and can be used for this purpose.
- Publish a sustainability report: There is a well-established trend towards external environmental or sustainability reporting in many countries and sectors, involving companies of all sizes. Whether on paper or on the Internet, reporting on your strategy, risks, opportunities and performance arising from environmental, social and economic issues can help: improve your strategic approach; provide management benefits; involve your employees; and provide valuable insight for investors, customers and other key stakeholders. You can also use reports prepared by your suppliers and customers to understand their approach and expectations and to obtain data for the calculation of your own indicators. Leading accountancy bodies, governments and institutional investors are calling for sustainability reporting to be integrated within financial annual reporting so as to provide more comprehensive and useful information for markets. The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Sustainability Reporting Guidelines, which provide tools to prepare sustainability reports, are emerging as an international standard.