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“You can’t manage what you don’t measure”

25 September, 2020

Remember when carbon reporting wasn’t mandatory? Companies could pick and choose how and what they reported publicly. Times have changed and companies now (happily) report their greenhouse gas emissions. Could this be the time for plastics to follow where carbon led?

Last week, Iceland published its first plastic footprint. What is impressive here is not so much the content, but rather the call for a universal reporting standard for plastics. The logic is flawless: retailers are increasingly announcing plastic reduction targets (which is great). But the information they disclose alongside varies considerably. Some will disclose tonnes, ratios, others will disclose breakdowns by polymers, by product or type of packaging…  However, there are no obvious ways to compare, contrast, or to hold these companies accountable for poor performance, or recognise good performance.

A nation-wide or universal plastic reporting standard doesn’t seem like it would be difficult to implement. Today, businesses with a turnover over £2 million and handling over 50 tonnes of plastic a year are already required to legally report their packaging waste to the government through the Packaging Recovery Note (PRN) scheme. Companies have the numbers in their back pockets, they would just need to publish these consistently. What’s more, an amendment to the Environment Bill would be enough to make this reporting a requirement.

Iceland may benefit from great PR from publishing their plastic footprint, and do service to the greater good. Here at Good Business, we are all in for consistency and transparency when it comes to reporting and effective regulation.

By Marie Guérinet

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