The Sustainability Scorecard, reviewed

A model of this text initially appeared in our Circularity Weekly publication. Subscribe to the newsletter here.

I used to be invited to learn a brand new guide and interview one of many authors. As somebody who has lengthy loved studying books about sustainability, it was very flattering to be despatched a replica of a brand new guide, “The Sustainability Scorecard,” by Paul Anastas and Urvashi Bhatnagar, and requested to supply my ideas in a assessment.

The Sustainability Scorecard book cover

A lot of our Circularity Weekly readers are in all probability conversant in Paul Anastas. A hero of mine since graduate faculty, Anastas is a deep thinker, an excellent chemist and an attractive speaker. I used to be far much less conversant in Urvashi Bhatnagar. Thankfully for me, I had the chance to talk with Bhatnagar over the telephone about her guide and instantly grew to become a fan. A healthcare govt and inhabitants well being professional with a eager eye towards sustainability, Bhatnagar brings a distinct perspective to “The Sustainability Scorecard” that pairs fairly effectively with Anastas.

“The Sustainability Scorecard” offers a easy and easy methodology for figuring out the place an organization presently is on its sustainability journey and a technique to trace progress. The guide proves that sustainability makes financial in addition to ecological sense and guides leaders in creating and scaling their very own inexperienced supply-chain initiative. I’ve learn a whole lot of sustainability books, and this one offers essentially the most sensible steps for company enchancment. In line with Goodreads, “By way of repeatable, dependable processes that deal with working mannequin design and new key efficiency indicators to scaling, this guide is a sensible information that leaders can depend on to make their current methods extra sustainable and worthwhile.”

What I realized No. 1: Entrenched methods usually are not so entrenched

To a point, this takeaway from the guide follows fairly effectively on my piece from a pair Fridays in the past. We regularly get the false sense that the established order is the established order is the established order is the established order (Wait, did I simply kind {that a} bunch of occasions? Whoops, leaving it in as a result of it helps make the purpose). “Entrenched methods and globe-spanning firms might seem unimaginable to dislodge,” Bhatnagar and Anastas write, “however take into account that not one of the top-10 most dear firms at this time had been on that record in 1990. Many didn’t even exist in 1990. Massive modifications can occur inside just a few a long time.” Due to this, we have to overcome the realized habits that we are able to’t make a distinction as a result of the behemoths within the economic system won’t ever change.

What I realized No. 2: The scorecard framework

Bhatnagar and Anastas have offered a simple and scalable mannequin for companies to maneuver directionally in the direction of sustainability. The framework focuses on 4 areas:

  1. Waste prevention
  2. Maximizing effectivity and efficiency
  3. Renewable inputs
  4. Secure degradation of supplies

Whereas these endpoints are largely rooted in environmental sustainability, in addition they cross over into social wellbeing for employees, fence-line communities and product customers — all crucial concerns for any sustainability apply.

Once I seemed on the scorecard, I used to be struck by how it’s concurrently easy and in-depth. The 4 high-level targets handle to get to the center of methods to make extra sustainable merchandise and processes with out overcomplicating issues. The authors have developed a data-driven methodology that may be approached whether or not you might be beginning your sustainability work (Provoke section), are down the trail however nonetheless studying (Develop section) or are an trade chief that’s been centered on sustainability for fairly a while (Maturity section). The important thing to this framework, and I feel one of many key insights I pulled from the guide, is that directionality is necessary. In different phrases, set a route on your sustainability work that aligns with the perfect science accessible and begin shifting. Positive, the tempo we’re shifting is necessary, however the route is much extra so.     

What I realized No. 3: Perfection is unattainable

Once I spoke with Bhatnagar in regards to the guide, she talked about this was one of many sticking factors in writing and publishing it. There may be all the time a need inside any framework to outline the proper state, to indicate customers methods to seize the brass ring. Bhatnager and Anastas argue that sustainability doesn’t have an ideal state. Even when companies can obtain the perfect rating in all areas of the sustainability scorecard (zeros for all classes on this case), there’ll all the time be work to do. The work may very well be remediating the problems the agency has created previously or pushing upstream and downstream companions to enhance their sustainability. In different phrases, companies ought to be reaching for perfection, nevertheless it ought to all the time be getting farther away because the science evolves and reveals us what it means to be sustainable as a person, an organization, a nation and a worldwide group.


Once I take a look at this guide and the Sustainability Scorecard as an entire, I’m excited for the construction it will probably carry to company sustainability in all sectors of the economic system. Having spent a substantial period of time within the personal sector attempting to construct sustainability packages, I can confidently say that these broadly relevant frameworks are all the time welcome as inputs to a sustainability technique.

I’d encourage of us to select up this guide, give it a learn and take into consideration how one can apply the Sustainability Scorecard to your individual work. In the event you set directional targets, observe information and measure progress, you may guarantee you might be shifting in the appropriate route. And bear in mind, in the event you attain for the brass ring and fall, at the very least you tried.


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