News | 8th December 2021

Monthly Resource Update – December

By Alicia Ayars

Every month we look across the sector, to identify resources and reports that assist in the application of the Future-Fit Business Benchmark.

In this round-up of third-party resources for the month of December, we are taking a look at Ellen MacArthur’s Circular Economy Glossary, WBCSD’s paper on committing to zero wastewater and Datamaran’s paper on double materiality.

Circular Economy Glossary – Ellen MacArthur Foundation

In the sphere of sustainability, the inherent meaning of language can be muddied and misused. In order to successfully transition to a circular economy, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation argues that we must have common definitions for expressing concepts around waste. This is why the organization released a Circular Economy Glossary. With fixed definitions for terms such as recycle, reuse, reverse logistics, virgin materials and finite resources, the foundation hopes to make it easier for businesses, policymakers and cities to align on what the circular economy is so that society can move toward truly circular models.

This glossary may help users of the Benchmark implement the guidance within BE07: Operational waste and BE19: Product repurposing. Companies can draw on the definitions laid out in the glossary to focus both internal strategy discussions and external communications around circularity.

Wastewater Zero Commitment – WBCSD

WBCSD highlight wastewater pollution as a key cause of negative climate, biodiversity, and water security impacts. The Wastewater Zero Initiative is a mechanism to raise ambition for business to meet SDG 6.3 – which calls for halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse.

The paper outlines why companies should commit to the Wastewater Zero Initiative and highlights the three pillars of commitment, which businesses will report progress against:

  1. Zero pollution: Treating all wastewater and releasing zero hazardous substances into the environment.
  2. Zero freshwater: Increasing the proportion of water reused and recycled.
  3. Low-carbon treatment: Adopting low carbon wastewater treatment processes.

In addition, two supporting tools will be made available for companies to use on their journey to Wastewater Zero. The first is the Wastewater Impact Assessment Tool which provides a high-level impact assessment on climate, biodiversity and water security for industrial water users and their suppliers. Second is the Wastewater Impact Protocol which intends to develop a standardised approach for measuring the impacts of wastewater on climate, biodiversity and water security. Both tools will be available by end of 2021.

The Wastewater Zero Initiative is well aligned with BE02: Water in two regards. Principally, it echoes the requirement of ensuring safe water discharge from any company facilities – i.e. no harmful substances should be allowed to escape via wastewater into the environment. Second, it encourages the use of zero freshwater by reusing and recycling water. This would help companies tackle the first issue in BE02: Water – no consumption of water from water-stressed sources. The final commitment around low-carbon treatment of water also aligns with BE06: Operational GHGs, as tackling one Break-Even Goal should not necessarily come at the expense of another. Unintended externalities and trade-offs should be front of mind for a holistic water strategy.

Getting started with double materiality: A 5-step plan – Datamaran

The new proposal for the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) is setting common European reporting rules, requiring more than 50,000 companies to report sustainability information in a consistent and comparable manner, in alignment with the EU Taxonomy. As part of these new requirements, companies must undertake a double materiality assessment.

The concept of double materiality was first introduced by the EU Commission as part of the 2019 Non-Binding Guidelines on Non-Financial Reporting Update (NFRD). It essentially refers to considering the impacts of ESG issues from both a financial and impact perspective – i.e. both the impact of ESG issues on the company’s success, as well as the negative impacts the company causes as result of its operations.

This e-book by Datamaran clearly outlines the requirements of the new CSRD and key double materiality concepts. In particular, it lays out a 5-step plan for undertaking a double materiality assessment.

The Future-Fit methodology can feed into a company’s double materiality assessment. Future-Fit’s tools and resources have long focused on impact materiality as the principal guide for company strategies and actions. The most direct expression of this is the Future-Fit Risk Profiler tool*. This tool specifically identifies the impact risks to people and planet associated with different types of business activities through an accessible question and answer approach. The Risk Profiler can therefore be used as an input to the suggested Step 2 of the 5-step Datamaran framework, as it is a robust resource that can help structure an impact materiality assessment.

*Note that the Risk Profiler tool is available inside the Changemaker Community. 

Alicia Ayars Ecosystem Manager

Alicia is an environmental scientist by training, with extensive experience in consulting and the development of sustainable business strategies.