therefore be done with care, and transparently so that the limitations of the information can be properly understood. This is especially the case when data are reported publicly and comparisons between different companies, processes, or products
Outside users of eco-efficiency information are likely to want to make comparisons between companies and over time but it is impor tant to recognize the inherent diversity of business and the particular circumstances of individual companies. Comparisons should be made only when the companies being compared provide the same product/service. It is also important to recognize that the product portfolios of different businesses often change, and that this may affect eco-efficiency figures regardless of a firm’s environmental efforts. The impact of such changes should be explained by companies in reporting eco-efficiency data, to allow
users to interpret reports accurately. The corollary of this is that companies can use eco-efficiency information to develop their product mix and activity toward a more eco-efficient portfolio.
Trend data is important so that changes in performance over time or compared to a reference point can be assessed. Data can be presented as absolute figures, eco-efficiency ratios, indexed to
a selected year, or expressed relative to a projected goal. The performance could also be expressed relative to an industry average, if that is available. If indices are used, however, the absolute numbers underlying them should also be published so that users can calculate their own ratios. It is cr ucial that data presented in such charts is truly comparable so that the trends depicted accurately represent eco-efficiency performance.
We propose the following five elements for a summary eco- efficiency profile, plus a verification statement if the report has been externally reviewed:
Organization Profile – to provide a context for the eco-efficiency information, including the number of employees, business segments,
primary products and major changes in the structure of the company.
Value Profile – indicators from the “value” portion of the WBCSD framework, including financial information, the quantity of products, or functional indicators for specific products.
Environmental Profile – including generally applicable environmental influence indicators as well as business specific indicators relating to product/service creation and use.
Eco-efficiency Ratios – in addition to providing in the previous two elements the basic “numerator” and “denominator” data for estimating eco-efficiency, companies may also
wish to provide calculations of eco- efficiency indicators that they consider most relevant and meaningful for their business.
Methodological Information – covering the approach used to select indicators, data collection methodologies, and any limitations
on use of the data.
WBCSD recommends that companies integrate eco-efficiency information into their overall decision making and communications processes. Internally, it
should be part of routine management s y s t e m s . E x t e r n a l l y , e c o - e f f i c i e n c y
indicators could be provided in
corporate environment or sustainability reports as one of the integrating element between the three pillars of sustainability, and could be included in existing financial reports as an extension to pure financial reporting.
Following is an exemple eco- efficiency profile of a virtual company to illustrate the approach. An information platform displaying corporate and site eco-efficiency profiles of pilot companies is accessible through WBCSD’s website at: www.wbcsd.org.