Sustainability Reporting: What To Measure And What To Report

sustainability reporting, what to measure

When it comes to sustainability reporting, businesses have a lot of factors to consider. What should be measured? What should be reported? Where do you even start?
In this article, we’ll be answering all those questions and more—so keep reading!

What is sustainability reporting?

Sustainability reporting is evaluating a company’s environmental and social affects and relaying performance data and targets to stakeholders. The process involves identifying impact areas, measuring impacts, benchmarking performance, and reporting results through (typically annual) reports.

What to measure and what to report
What to measure and what to report

Companies use sustainability reporting to communicate their performance, contributions, and targets on a wide range of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) parameters. The practice allows companies to communicate their ESG effects with stakeholders to improve corporate transparency.

Why is sustainability reporting important?

For corporate responsibility, the public has never been more interested. In fact, a study by Nielsen found that 66% of global consumers say they’re willing to pay more for products from companies that are committed to social and environmental responsibility.

However, public opinion isn’t the only reason companies are prioritizing ESG reporting. The practice of sustainability reporting is important for many reasons, including:

  • Increasing public understanding of risks and opportunities
  • Emphasizing the link between financial and non-financial performance
  • Enabling ESG performance comparisons both internally and externally
  • Mitigating negative ESG affects
  • Increasing stakeholder understanding of intangible corporate assets

With all of those benefits, it’s not surprising that the popularity of sustainability reporting as a core business practice is seeing significant annual increases.

So, how do you get started? Keep reading to find out!

What should you measure?

What to measure in sustainability reporting is a common question we get asked. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Every company is different, with its own unique set of ESG impacts. For that reason, sustainability reporting must begin with a careful analysis of a company’s environmental aspects—areas of operation which interact with the environment.

With that being said, there are some measurements that will likely make their way into every sustainability report.

Let’s go over the main ones:

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Every company on the planet produces greenhouse gases in some quantity. Since greenhouse gasses are responsible for the recent rise in global temperatures, this is an area of particular importance in any sustainability report.

What to measure in sustainability reporting, well companies seeking to measure and report on their greenhouse gas emissions should start by cataloging every aspect of their supply chain that produces emissions. After doing this, they can measure or calculate their emissions with a considerable degree of accuracy.

Water Usage

Water is a precious resource, and it’s becoming increasingly scarce in certain parts of the world.  As a result, water usage is an important parameter to measure and report on in any sustainability report.

In order to measure water usage, companies must first determine their water footprint. The water footprint is a measure of the total volume of freshwater used to produce the goods and services a company consumes. Once a company knows its water footprint, it can track and report on its water usage relative to industry benchmarks and legal requirements.

Waste Production

All companies produce some amount of waste. However, not all wastes are created equal.

There are three types of waste that are important to measure and report on in a sustainability report:

  1. Recyclable Waste: This type of waste can be reused or recycled after it’s produced.
  2. Compostable Waste: This type of waste can be broken down into organic material that can be used as fertilizer.
  3. Landfill-Bound Waste: This type of waste is not biodegradable and will likely end up in a landfill.

By measuring and reporting on their recyclable, compostable, and landfill-bound wastes, companies can get a better understanding of their overall environmental impact.

Beyond these three measurements, companies can also measure and report on a variety of other environmental parameters, such as energy usage, toxic waste production, and deforestation. However, the above three measurements are a good place to start for any company looking to get started with sustainability reporting.

What should you report on?

Besides measuring and quantifying a company’s environmental impacts, it’s important to report on what actions have been taken to mitigate those effects.

This is where sustainability reporting differs from traditional financial reports. While financial reports are limited to describing past events, sustainability reports can also describe future goals and strategies.

This information is invaluable to shareholders, employees, customers, and other stakeholders who want to see how a company is planning to become more sustainable.

Reporting on a company’s environmental initiatives can also help to build goodwill among stakeholders and may even lead to increased brand awareness.

How can you make your sustainability report more effective?

There are a few things you can do to make your sustainability report more effective:

1) Make it Interactive

One great way to make your sustainability report more engaging is to make it interactive. This will help readers to understand the data better and see how it relates to their own lives.

2) Include Case Studies

Case studies are a great way to illustrate a company’s sustainability efforts. They can help readers see how the measures you’ve taken have made a real difference in the world.

3) Use Images and Videos

Images and videos can be a great way to illustrate your company’s sustainability efforts. They can help readers understand complex data, and see the impact of your work first-hand.

4) Feature Stories from Employees

Stories from employees can be a great way to show how your company is making a difference. They can help readers see the human side of sustainability, and how it’s affecting people’s lives.

5) Use Infographics

Infographics are a great way to present data in an easy-to-understand format. They can help readers see the big picture, and understand how your company’s sustainability efforts are impacting the world.

Wrapping Up

What to measure in sustainability reporting is becoming more and more important for businesses all over the world. By taking into account greenhouse gas emissions, water usage, and waste production, companies can become more sustainable and environmentally responsible. By making your sustainability report interactive, including case studies, and using images and videos, you can make sure that your report is effective and engaging.

That’s all on ‘What to measure in sustainability reporting’ but there’s a lot to know about sustainability reporting, so please check our other posts on the subject.



About the Author

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Based in Dubai for over 10years, Peter Caush is the founder of and
A trusted authority on digital marketing Peter is passionate about helping SME’s grow their business in the Gulf region. 
When he’s not in the office Peter enjoys playing squash, often more times than his knees can cope.

About Sandpaper

At Sandpaper We have been around long enough to realize the importance of good report writing, research, and design. A thoroughly planned and executed report builds loyalty and trust among stakeholders.
In the 10 years of service, Sandpaper has managed a stay ahead of its competition; by developing and adapting to changes in both the global and local corporate landscape in the United Arab Emirates.

Annual Reports : Sustainability/Environmental, Financial/AGM, Impact and special focus.

Sustainability Reports, Annual Reports 90%
Report planning, research, collating, drafting, copywriting, proofing 50%
Concept creation, layout design, infographics, photography 70%

View the latest work Sandpaper has designed and published.