LCA as A Tool to Define Materiality in The New GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards

March 1, 2017

In creating sustainability report, one thing that is important to be considered by organization to start creating the report is defining materiality. Among wide range of topics, the organization have to assess which topics are important, relevant and can be considered as material, means they can reflect the organization’s impacts to the three pillars of sustainability – economic, environmental, and social. In this context, ‘impact’ refers to the (positive/negative) effect an organization has on the economy, the environment and/or society (Global Reporting Initiative, GRI 101: Foundation 2016). 

 

Combining internal and external factors, also using established tools will help an organization determine the relevant topics which are sufficiently important that it is essential to be reported – materiality. One of established tools recommended by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) to be used is life cycle assessment (LCA). 

 

“Various methodologies can be used to assess the significance of impacts. In general, ‘significant impacts’ are those that are a subject of established concern for expert communities, or that have been identified using established tools, such as impact assessment methodologies or life cycle assessments.”

 

Quoted from GRI 101: Foundation 2016 document sub-section 1.3 Materiality.

 

As LCA means to included all upstream and downstream activities, according to Pfielger et. al (2005) this refer to all operations occurring at the production site and those which occurring beyond the site. The use of LCA will produce results about the significant impacts occur during the activities assessed. As stated by Pfielger et. al. (2005), the results of impact assessments (phase 3 of LCA methodology) as central parts of an LCA are considered as a good basis for creating significant indicators for sustainability reports. 

 

More information about GRI sustainability reporting www.ncsr-id.org.

References:

 

GRI 101: Foundation 2016

 

Julia Pflieger, Matthias Fischer, Thilo Kupfer, Peter Eyerer, (2005) "The contribution of life cycle assessment to global sustainability reporting of organizations", Management of Environmental Quality: An International Journal, Vol. 16 Iss: 2, pp.167 - 179

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