Well, we understand that not everyone calls out “how exciting!” about these news. But we very much welcome a new standard on waste. Because, to be honest, waste is often not a good thing from a sustainability perspective. Thinking positively though, someone’s waste may be someone else’s treasure. So transparent waste reporting is a good thing.
So what is new in this standard?
There is a clear trend, seen in all the updated and new standards (e.g. related to OHS and Tax), to extend the topic specific Management Approach. This is also the case in the 306 Water 2020 standard. This means that for an organization that has identified waste as a material topic, it must both report according to GRI 103 Management approach, and the specific disclosures:
306 -1 on waste generation and significant waste-related impacts, and 306-2 concerning the management of significant waste-related impacts.
What does the new standard require of the reporters? Well, this is what is needed:
– an understanding of where waste occurs along the value chain, i.e. related to own activities as well as upstream and downstream events.
– an understanding of why waste occurs, i.e. what types of activities lead to waste
– an understanding of what effects the possibility for materials to be recovered, e.g. design characteristics that limit recovery or length of product life.
– an understanding of risks of negative effects at product end-of-life, such as littering, ocean pollution etc.
– an overview of how waste related data is collected and monitored in the organization.
It is required of an organization to report on both inputs and outputs that lead – or could lead – to significant waste related impacts. As an example, even if a hazardous substance is already entering the organization as part of a raw material or in a component, the organization should report if that (when having left for the next step in the value chain) would could cause significant waste related impacts once disposed of.
Interesting also is that a new term has been introduced, circularity measures. This is defined as measures taken to retain the value of products, materials and resources and direct them back to use for as long as possible with the lowest carbon and resource footprint possible. The aim is thus to lessen the need to extract virgin materials and other resources.
To involve a third party in the management of an organization’s waste is common. In this case, the standard specifically requires of the organization to disclose a description of the processes used to determine that the third party is in fact acting in line with legislation and additional contractual agreements.
The new topic specific disclosures are the following:
306- 3 Waste generated
Shortly, this includes the total amount of waste, broken down by composition of the waste. The categories can be industry specific.
306-4 Waste diverted from disposal
Here, the focus is on the destination of the waste, i.e. to what extent hazardous and non-hazardous waste has been prepared for reuse, recycled or by other means recovered. Here onsite and offsite recovery should be separated.
306-5 Waste directed to disposal
Here the standard makes it clear. Incineration (with and without energy recovery) and landfill are both considered disposal. Here hazardous and non-hazardous waste should be reported, by weight and by type of disposal. Also here, onsite and offsite disposal should be separated.
Well aligned with the recent update of the GRI Water standard, the revised Waste standard no longer includes effluents nor spills. Unless the effluent is categorized as waste by legislation.