14 September 2018 by Daniel Moore

One set of sustainability indicators of benefit, says Cooke

A consistent set of ‘sustainability’ indicators would be of “clear benefit” for the recycling, resource and waste management sector, according to Pennon Group’s head of sustainability.

The rationale for a single set of indicators was explained by Dan Cooke, head of group sustainability at Pennon Group – parent company of waste management firm Viridor – at this week’s RWM show.

Mr Cooke referenced the United Nation’s sustainable development goals (SDGs) and provided an overview of how the recycling and waste management sector could benefit from a “wider reporting” against the UN’s 17 SDGs, launched in 2015.

Dan Cooke

Dan Cooke detailed the advantages that a single set of sustainability indicators might bring

Sustainability frameworks

“There are many detailed frameworks out there, where we’re being tested and asked how we are contributing towards sustainability,” Mr Cooke remarked. “The Global Reporting Index (GBI) is one of the most detailed models, which sets out many questions for operators in terms of how you report on your sustainability performance and measure your materiality.”

He continued: “Business in the Community have their Corporate Responsibility Index (CRI) that they are now changing and moving towards a responsibility tracker. Our own company, Pennon, is going into the first year of this to see how user-friendly it is and how it can be promoted.”

According to Mr Cooke, there are a number of methods that recycling, resource and waste management firms are being measured on, which can get “confusing.” During the conference, he explained that there would be a “clear benefit” from moving to a consistent set of indicators to gauge performance and demonstrate progress against the SDGs.

Gender equality

Mr Cooke said Pennon will be publishing its sustainability report in the coming weeks, highlighting how both Pennon and its subsidiary, Viridor, are achieving progress.

He told the audience that ‘Gender equality’ was a key SDG for the organisation, as women currently account for 15% of the industry compared to males. And although both companies have “struggled” to recruit more women into technical roles, there are many projects in the line-up to encourage women into the sector through education sponsorships across Scotland, England and Wales.

Both businesses believe these partnerships will entice more women into STEM and Engineering positions, while bringing diversity into the sector.

The document also touches on the UN’s ‘Affordable and Clean Energy’ SDG, which Mr Cooke said, will contain case studies and ongoing investments to deliver infrastructure and milestones reached, as well as how both organisations are treating their millions of tonnes of materials to generate renewable energy.”

Opportunities

Wrapping up the RWM session, Mr Cooke commented: “Our sector would indeed benefit from a wider reporting against these SDGs. There could be a real opportunity as there are 12 trillion dollars of market opportunities if we make substantial progress over the next 5-10 years. We will continue our dialogue with relevant trade bodies by informing them of how we should be using these in a more pro-active way.”


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