The Global Reporting Initiative (known as GRI) is an international independent standards organisation that helps businesses, governments and other organizations identify, gather, and report this information in a clear and comparable manner. First launched in 2000, GRI’s sustainability reporting framework is now the most widely used by multinational organisations.
In May 2020, the Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB), GRI’s independent standard-setting body, released a revised Waste standard, which encourages disclosure relating to circularity. Organisations are now required to report, among others, waste-related impacts (GRI 306-1), and actions taken to prevent waste generation in the organisation’s own activities and upstream and downstream in its value chain (GRI 306-2).
Here we explore some of key changes introduced by this revision.
Review of the waste management hierarchy
The new standard recommends the following waste management methods as listed below in order of priority:
- Diverted from disposal, by recovery operations such as:
- Preparation for reuse
- Recycling (includes downcycling, upcycling, composting, or anaerobic digestion)
- Directed to disposal, by operations such as:
- Incineration (with energy recovery)
- Incineration (without energy recovery)
Waste prevention, or waste reduction, is the most preferable option in the hierarchy, as it prevents the resulting impacts on the environment and human health. It is then followed by recovery operations that divert waste from being sent to landfill or incineration, such as preparation for reuse, recycling. Disposal is the least preferable option in the waste management hierarchy as it is associated with the most negative impacts on the environment.
Waste-to-energy is no longer considered as a recycling method
The requirements for reporting on specific waste management operations have been separated: the recovery operations ‘preparation for reuse’, ‘recycling’, and ‘other recovery’ have been included in a separate disclosure (new Disclosure 306-4 Waste diverted from disposal), to distinguish them from the disposal operations ‘incineration’ and ‘disposal’ (new Disclosure 306-5 Waste directed to disposal). This will allow organizations to report on the waste that they divert from disposal separately from the waste that they direct to disposal.
Process describing how waste is managed on-site and off-site
If the waste generated by the organisation in its own activities is managed by a third party, it will have to confirm if the processes used by the third party to manage waste are in line with contractual or legislative obligations.
Data reporting on waste management
The processes that the organisation has in place for collecting and monitoring waste-related data can reflect its commitment to managing waste-related impacts. Such processes can include online data entry, maintaining a centralized database, real-time weighbridge measurement, and annual external data validation. The organization can specify whether the data collection and monitoring processes extend beyond waste generated in its own activities to include waste generated upstream and downstream in its value chain.
The GRI 306 on Waste is publicly available here: https://www.globalreporting.org/standards/media/2573/gri-306-waste-2020.pdf
The final review is also available here: https://www.globalreporting.org/standards/media/2543/item-03-final-version-of-gri-306-waste-2020.pdf