Absolutely Greener, Relatively Speaking: A Closer Look at CSR Reporting

TerraCycle Tom-Blog
I was recently exchanging e-mails with a dear friend, Melissa, who works in the CSR , or corporate social responsibility, department of a major US corporation. We were talking about traditional national and global economic growth rates (which, of course, may not be achieved in times such as the current global slowdown) and how improved environmental standards could go beyond previous relative standards, but still result in cumulative negative impact. Melissa noted, “More companies are reporting defined sustainability goals and achievements--for example, reduced emissions, energy, water, landfill waste--to show that they're really greening up. The numbers that headline CSR report summaries and press releases tend to be framed in relative terms "standardized" per unit or pound produced rather than absolute totals. Because our economy is founded on growth, sustainability becomes a moving target. While relative or standardized numbers are an important tool in helping a company measure progress against itself, they don't necessarily indicate whether the company is moving towards ecological balance, and thus true sustainability.”