Throughout the Accounting for Sustainability Project we have learnt that managers are rarely provided with the methodology and information needed to take their organization’s strategic sustainability objectives into account in a meaningful, robust and consistent manner.
The sustainability Decision Making Tool was developed by the sustainability consultancy firm ERM in conjunction with, and tailored by, Cadbury Schweppes, Duchy Originals, Sainsbury’s and Tesco.
This illustrative decision making tool has been developed to show how sustainability issues can be taken into account more effectively in day-to-day decision making processes. It proposes an example methodology, that could be adapted and applied to both products and services. It is not intended to be a universal tool and will consequently need to be adapted for each organization. It is, however, hoped that the general principles demonstrated in this model can be developed and adapted to meet a wide range of circumstances and be of use to organizations from a wide variety of sectors.
The tool is divided into three broad phases.
1. Undertaking a review of the whole product or service range to understand the impact of the of the organization’s main sustainability objectives. If additional major sustainability impacts are identified during this process the organization’s overall strategy may need amendment.
2. Analyzing the life-cycle of particular products and services to determine the impact of the key sustainability factors identified during the first more general review. This is an iterative process involving, for example, discussions with in house manufacturing and/or suppliers and other stakeholders.
3. Understanding all the various options and reaching a balanced fully informed and documented decision as to how the sustainability performance of the particular product or service can be improved.
The Accounting for Sustainability Decision Making Tool is demonstrated through a tutorial which takes the user through the three stages above.
Sainsbury’s initially used the Decision Making Tool to enable sustainability to be taken into account more robustly and consistently in the supply chain of oranges, bananas and carrier bags. Since then, Sainsbury’s has featured in one of our academic case studies in the book “Accounting for Sustainability Practical Insights“. This case study focuses on the application of the Decision Making Tool and how it has been used alongside other initiatives to embed sustainability in the sourcing of lamb. Sainsbury’s have found that the tool has helped them to understand the underlying sustainability issues and that, armed with this understanding, they can address these issues and communicate the business case for change more effectively.