POTENTIAL GENERALLY APPLICABLE INDICATORS
The small number of generally applicable indicators could eventually be expanded by the addition of others which currently do not quite meet the three criteria. The following three items are clearly important for eco-efficiency but there is currently no consensus for measuring them. This may change in the near future, in which case they could become generally applicable indicators. When using these indicators it is important that reporters specify the definition which they apply.
Additional financial value indicators: We were striving to find additional financial value indicators (other than Net Sales), such as indicators for profitability or value added. Profitability being the measure of the overall financial performance of a business entity, is obviously a relevant
and important value indicator for business around the world. As virtually all companies measure it, it might
appear peculiar that we have not categorized it as a generally applicable indicator. However, profitability is a very
broad term and can mean different things to different companies. Thus,
when using profitability information, it
is important to specify which definition i s u s e d , e . g . t h e U S g e n e r a l l y a c c e p t e d
accounting principles (GAAP) for profit,
earnings or income.
There are still wide differences in the meaning and measurement for financial measures such as “Earnings before interest and tax” (EBIT), Gross Margin or Value Added. We list these under business specific indicators. Businesses which wish to relate environmental influence to such measures should again specify the definition they ar e using.
Acidification emissions to air include acid gases and mists (e.g. ammonia, hydrochloric acid, hydrogen
fluoride acid, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and sulfuric acid) from fuel combustion, process reactions and treatment processes. Measurement methods and effect definitions are as yet not globally agreed, although many European companies have used factors which have been developed for the relative strength of various acids to the effect of acidification. This indicator could become generally applicable if a global agreement on measurement methods can be reached.
method, possibly based on the Basel Convention approach. Until then companies will need to specify the definition and measurement method used to track and report their waste amounts. In any case companies ar e likely to include business specific indicators to cover different types of non-product output, identifying the
type of waste (e.g. hazardous/non- hazardous) or its final destination (e.g. landfill, recycling or incineration).
BUSINESS SPECIFIC INDICATORS
Total waste is the total amount of substances or objects destined for disposal. Waste is certainly an issue of growing global concern. However the term is used very differently by different industries and in different countries, even though there exists a global convention ratified by many countries that includes a definition. Total waste could become a generally applicable indicator if agreement can be reached on a definition and measurement
Some examples of business specific indicators are included in Appendix 2 to help companies to identify their r elevant indicators and to provide guidance based on the experience gained during the pilot exercise. The descriptions,
measurement methods and data sources are taken from information provided by pilot companies. Many of these indicators are used in these companies in examples which can be seen on the WBCSD website at www.wbcsd.org.
pilot learning: waste is a tricky issue
The working group as well as pilot companies discussed at length how to use and describe waste indicators for total amounts and for particular types of wastes, relative to their composition or their final way of disposal.
Discussions centered on the problem of a commonly accepted definition for waste. Some participants recommended as generally applicable simply-defined indicators for “Total Waste” (e.g. following the Basel Convention), or “Total Non-Product Output”, including effluents to water and emissions to air. Particular waste types such as “Waste to Landfill” or “Waste to Incineration” would be left as business specific indicators. For such types of wastes participants did not see commonly accepted definitions to emerge.
Reduction of waste has been a focus for many companies for some time. These sometimes prefer to work with waste or non-product output (NPO) instead of total materials consumption because purchased amounts are only available in monetary terms, while waste or NPO are traditionally tracked in tons.
One company has set a long-ter m goal to reduce total NPO, including anything that does not go into pr oducts (waste, air emissions and water emissions), because it leads to maximum eco- efficiency. For paper as an illustrative example, of an original value of e.g. 1000 USD/ton, recycling allows for a benefit of e.g. 100 USD/ton while 900 USD/ton are lost, but could be saved by r educing total NPO.