More organizations, including local governments, are establishing zero waste goals to fully divert landfill waste. While very few organizations have yet to achieve zero waste, the proliferation of the goal throughout all industries is building a nascent infrastructure needed to support this initiative.
This trend also merits attention due to its impact on a company's financial performance. This cost impact and the size of capital expenditures to support these initiatives elevates this discussion within the organization.
Business and organizations do not operate in a vacuum. Their relationship to the society and environment in which they operate is a critical factor in their ability to continue to operate effectively. It is also increasingly being used as a measure of their overall performance.
ISO 26000 provides guidance on how businesses and organizations can operate in a socially responsible way. This means acting in an ethical and transparent way that contributes to the health and welfare of society.
ISO 26000:2010 provides guidance rather than requirements, so it cannot be certified unlike some other well-known ISO standards. Instead, it helps clarify what social responsibility is, helps businesses and organizations translate principles into effective actions and shares best practices relating to social responsibility, globally. It is aimed at all types of organizations regardless of their activity, size or location.
Sustainability does not end at an organization's doorstep. Many companies are reaching back into their supply chain in order to understand the extent of their responsibility and impact, and to avoid public relations disasters when companies they partner with act recklessly or unethically.
Materials, transportation, and labor practices are areas which receive considerable focus during a supply chain evaluation. These investigations are usually conducted through surveys and site visits.
A continuous dialogue with an organization's stakeholders is paramount to understanding impact and avoiding public relations issues, requiring some level of trust and possibly a nondisclosure agreement. Outside entities can provide valuable information for the organization desiring an unbiased view of themselves.
Stakeholders should include customers, at a minimum. They can include NGOs, local governments and customers. Investor groups such as the Calvert Group can also provide feedback focused on issues that have an impact on financial performance.