used for many of these entities. The same indicator may not be suitable for each one. For example, an eco- efficiency indicator for the manufacture of detergent could be kilogram produced per kilojoule of energy consumed during manufacturing. Alternatively, the product manager
could calculate an indicator on the basis of economic value (e.g. USD deter gent sales) per kilojoule of manufacturing energy consumed, or on a function delivered basis (e.g. average laundry cycles per kilojoule of manufacturing energy consumed).
Indicators may also be useful in helping customers understand the environmental performance of products. Eco-efficiency ratios for single products or market segments can help expr ess product performance in ways which are more meaningful to their users. Many businesses already use eco-efficiency ratios to express a product’s functional use related to its impact. For example,
the fuel efficiency of a car expressed in kilometers per liter of fuel used (or miles per gallon) is a well known eco-efficiency ratio.
Many companies and users so far have tracked environmental influence per unit of value – the inverse of the for mula set out here. Such calculation results in impact intensity ratios, where a
declining intensity ratio reflects a positive performance improvement.
WBCSD recommends the use of eco- efficiency ratios (value per environmental influence) since in this form an increasing efficiency ratio reflects a positive performance improvement. This parallels the way business tracks financial performance. Increasing key financial indicators, e.g.
sales, profit, return on capital employed,
reflect positive financial performance. Intensity ratios could be provided if a
business and stakeholders agreed that these ratios are important business specific indicators for that business. The substantial information contained in both, efficiency and intensity ratios,
is the same.
other indicator initiatives
Throughout this project, the WBCSD working group has maintained connections to other key initiatives in the area of indicators and reporting both for corporate performance (micro level) and for the performance of the entire economy (macro level).
The most relevant initiatives and programs have been:
the International Standards Organization’s International Standard on Environmental Performance Evaluation (ISO 14031). In fact, ISO 14031 is recommended in the framework to be used as the primar y approach for selecting sector or company specific environmental influence indicators.
the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES) with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). GRI focuses on developing a common harmonized format for corporate sustainability reporting. The fact that the
setting the scene
GRI reporting guidelines and the WBCSD framework were developed in the same period and partly with the support of the same companies, led to a high level of fruitful interaction, cross-fertilization and adaptation.
the Canadian National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE). NRTEE has conducted pilot studies on how to measure eco-efficiency in business, especially with respect to the use of energy and materials. The findings of the NRTEE pilot studies have been taken into consideration in developing the WBCSD framework.
OECD, UNCSD, and the European Environment Agency (EEA). These organizations are working on indicators to describe the performance of national or regional economies with regard to sustainability and/or eco-efficiency. WBCSD has worked with these gr oups to provide a linkage between the micro- and macro-level aspects of eco- efficiency indicators.