The Importance of Sustainability Reporting in Today’s Market

Ask GIA™ Blog

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In the Ask GIA™ blogs, sustainability topics have been a regular theme. We’ve discussed how consumers are becoming more selective with the products and businesses they purchase from. In December 2019, First Insight surveyed consumers in the U.S. on how sustainable practices are impacting shopping habits and purchase decisions. The results show the growing expectation for sustainable goods, as the current generation makes purchases dependent on the environmental ethics of how a product is manufactured. Additionally, Global Google searches for topics related to sustainable products increased by around 130% between 2017 and 2022.

Customers are focused on consuming green products and supporting businesses with sustainable business practices, often willing to even pay a premium for sustainable products. Businesses rely on third party fact finding organizations to guarantee the sustainability claims they reference in their products. This is one of the key ways consumers use to verify that products are produced ethically and sustainably, which will then translate towards their desire to purchase the product. At SW we show our customers that our brand is credible through our certifications with the Skin Health Alliance, Forest Stewardship Council, and our various sustainability awards. Another way for businesses to show their commitment to the environment and exhibit that they have a sustainable business model is through sustainability reports.

The most basic objective of sustainability reporting is to showcase the true commitment towards sustainability – what actions the business has taken to move towards sustainable business practices. This is the way to cement that a business is not green washing their products. Previously we discussed this term (green washing) to mean the common marketing tactic to mislead consumers into thinking a product is more sustainable than it actually is. A study done by TheRoundUp found that 79% of the people they surveyed who have heard brands communicating about their sustainability are likely to trust that messaging even if it may not be completely true. Consumers should take care to confirm whether or not a brand is actually enacting sustainable practices. Sustainability reports can provide transparent evidence of the difference a business is making.



In fact, they are a necessary aspect of ESG, another topic the Ask GIA blog has touched upon. ESG stands for environmental, social and governance. They represent the three areas companies are supposed to report on in the fiscal evaluations of their companies. For the environmental category, companies need to report on the total carbon emission produced by business processes, any water or waste emissions, and the sourcing of their raw materials. It is important to note whether companies use virgin or recycled materials in their manufacturing processes. Any additional positive environmental impacts, such as protective resource or land stewardships must be noted as well.

This is where sustainability reports come into play. While ESG focuses on the financial quantitative aspect, sustainability reporting is a form of non-financial reporting that enables companies to convey their progress on sustainability goals they have expressed prior commitment towards. A sustainability report can help assess the current progress and what is further needed to reach a business’s sustainability goals. There is no set format, but a robust sustainability report should include a business’s ESG goals. The one constant is that businesses must show they have abided by local mandatory reporting standards and abide by local testing standards. In the EU, businesses must disclose information on environmental and social matters, while in the UK businesses must disclose annual greenhouse gas emissions. The industry’s standardized testing is regulated by ASTM, ISO, and EN.

Sustainability reports are valuable as they allow for a business to avoid risks and account for situations that may impact long-term performance. They also provide transparency to their stakeholders, further enhancing their business’s brand image. With sustainability reporting, businesses are able to manage business costs and exhibit that they are in compliance with appropriate legislation. Sustainability reports may bring interest to a business’ brand or attract new customers and employees. It helps distinguish a brand from other competitors. Overall, they provide many benefits and should become a routine for any business committed towards sustainability. Customers can find SW’s sustainability report on our website. We have always prioritized being transparent with our customers and stakeholders. We look forward to sharing our annual progress, exhibiting the growth of our brand, especially as we are in our 40th year in operation as a business.