How sustainable are your favourite brands?

News, blog and backgrounds about the sustainability scores of brands

Sorting out the heroes from the zeroes

Bad reporting can take many forms, while good reporting is always the same – detailed, straight-talking and easy to find. To show you what to look out for, we’ve winkled out some of the zeroes and heroes of CSR reporting.

Counting carbon
For almost all the sectors we rank, we ask whether a brand publishes the carbon-footprint of its ‘own operations’. That covers all of the factories, shops and other facilities that the company owns or controls, and the emissions released to produce the energy it either buys or generates itself.

Reporting Zero: H&M
Why? H&M does publish its total greenhouse gas emissions – including for its own operations. The figures are tucked away at the bottom of page 71 of its report. Unfortunately emissions increased by a whopping 25%. H&M would rather you saw the headline graph on page 69. That’s because it shows emissions relative to sales. And as the company grew 15% last year, this covers up a huge amount of emissions. Not surprising then, that H&M”s reduction targets are all relative to sales, too…

Taken from Page 69 of H&M

H&M's 'creative' graph










Reporting Hero: Timberland
Timberland has just published a new online CSR portal that includes a carbon footprint for every year since 2006 – including its reduction target for 2015. Crucially, the figures are absolute totals, shown to the nearest metric ton, and account for emissions from all of Timberland’s owned and operated facilities. Plus, they are broken down to show how best online casino much of the emissions were released on-site, and how much was generated on their behalf by a third party. Timberland also includes the emissions released every time an employee jets off on business.

Caution: hazardous materials
While you can be pretty certain that your new phone or jacket doesn’t contain hazardous substances, that doesn’t mean that they weren’t used to make them. Globally, legislation that governs the use of dangerous chemicals is patchy at best, so we look to brands to prohibit their suppliers from using the most hazardous ones. We want to know exactly which substances are banned.

Reporting Zero: Asus
Why? Although Asus does publish information about its policy on the use of hazardous substances, it’s far from extensive – or clear. Asus seems to be guilty of the sin of ‘vague phrasing’. For example, it states that it ‘obeys regulations’ that govern the use of chemical substances. Uh-huh. Would that be the suppliers’ local regulations? You know, the ones that aren’t very stringent? And by the way, the words ‘ban’ and ‘prohibit’ don’t appear anywhere…

Reporting Hero: Nokia
Why? Nokia publishes a comprehensive list of banned and restricted substances, which includes to which of its products the restrictions apply and whether there are any exceptions. It also includes an overview of how this list has changed which dates back to 2001, as well as an introduction to help you interpret the data.

Blood, sweat and tears?
Factory-floor horror stories are still shamefully wide-spread. So we not only ask whether a brand has a Code of Conduct to protect the people who work for its suppliers – we also ask how it is being implemented.

Reporting Zero: Suzuki
Why? Suzuki’s supply chains stretch into low-wage, high-risk countries – such as China, Cambodia and Venezuela – where employees have little recourse to human rights legislation. And yet we can’t find any information on their working standards for suppliers – let alone whether they are being implemented.

Reporting Hero: Adidas
Why? Adidas publishes a report that contains an impressive amount of detail. For example, it contains absolute figures for its suppliers’ factories per country (pages 3-4), per-region totals for licensee factories (page 5), the number of compliance audits performed per region (page 8), results of audits performed (pages 11-12), and data on sanctions carried out against underperforming suppliers (page 14). Sadly, its actual working standards could be improved…

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