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The performance indicator protocols focus mainly on the aspect of water outlined under EN8, EN9 and EN10. These guidelines provide a framework of how organisations are to disclose their water usage and the reporting standards required. In general, it helps the report users to understand the environmental compliance of the company as a whole, environmental expenditure by the company and its impacts when using water as a focal point in its production process.
EN8-Total water withdrawal by source.
Reporting under this protocol informs the user by providing a holistic view of the potential impacts and risks associated with the organisations use of water. This indicator provides a figure of the organisation's efficiency in relation to water use and how important this resource is to company operations. The reason for this is that users are informed of the level of risk, any disruptions to the company's water supply and impact on the production process which may influence decisions of other stakeholders.
EN9-Water sources significantly affected by withdrawal of water.
The user is able to determine the resulting effect in regards to economic and social consequences that the company will face in the future due to the withdrawal of water and observe its resulting impact. This helps the user to extract information on the stability of the organisations water sources and the areas in which improvement is required.
EN10 -Percentage and total volume of water recycled.
The rate and way in which water is recycled by a company can provide a clear signal to the user as to whether the company is achieving its goal of reducing water withdrawal. This is important to the user as it allows them to see whether the company can reduce its water treatment, consumption and disposal costs. The user also receives vital information about the 'face' of the company. That is whether through reduction in water consumption and increase in recycling water its obligations to the wider community in terms of managing water supplies is satisfied.
Coca-Cola Amatil Limited
Lion Nathan Limited
Unilever Australasia Pty Limited
Coca Cola Amatil (CCL)
CCA operates in New Zealand, Australia Fiji, PNG and Indonesia. It manufactures and bottles non-alcoholic beverages for the entire Asia Pacific region. The company is one of the world's top five Coca-Cola bottlers and has a large, diversified product portfolio involving the manufacturing, selling and distribution of many beverages, including water, energy and sport drinks, flavoured milk, coffee, fruit juice and carbonated soft drinks.
Lion Nathan Limited (LNL)
LNL operates in New Zealand and Australia and specialises in the production and distribution of alcoholic beverages in Australia and New Zealand and National Food, one of Australasia's largest beverage and food company. They have a diversified portfolio including household name brands in beer, wine, spirits, milk, dairy foods, juice and cheese .The Company is committed to enhancing both the Australian and New Zealand economies.
Unilever Australasia Pty Limited
Unilever Australasia provides its products internationally and specialises in the production and distribution of FMCG products. Unilever Australasia Limited operates as a subsidiary of Unilever plc. This company produces food, personal care, and nutrition productions as well as hygiene, health and beauty products.
Each organisation has discussed their water reporting practices that they have employed, conveyed predominantly in their Annual Report.
CCA focuses their practices on "minimising any adverse environmental impacts of its beverage and food manufacturing activities, recognising that the key areas of environmental impact are mainly water use"(Annual Report 2011). CCA operational management role aims to encourage positive management of environmental issues such as water uses in operations to ensure sustainability of the company in the future together with minimisation of environmental impact on wider society. Another practice employed by CCA is the undertaking of "Group Policy" which guarantees that CCA abides by all permit conditions and environmental laws applying to the company. This policy ensures the continuous monitoring of environmental issues relating to water usage at an operational level overseen by the "Compliance and Social Responsibility Committee".
LNL current water reporting practices are subjected to a number of "regulatory frameworks governing energy and water consumption" (Annual Report 2011). Similar to that of CCA, LNL also employs "Group Policy" to ensure all environmental laws are met and have incorporated these regulations regarding water usage into relevant business practices and the operating processes. Water programs with state and local authorities together with LNL's "Internal Water Reduction Plan" has allowed LNL to "reduce water consumption per litre of product by 4% on last year" (LNL sustainability report 2010). Together with this LNL has reported on improving its 'housekeeping practices' through the NSW govt. "Water Saving Action Plan".
Unilever water reporting practices include employing "water neutral" i.e. if their production site is in a certain area where water stress level is high, the company uses "rainwater harvesting and recycling techniques to avoid detrimental effects to the wider community"(Annual Report 2010). They have also aimed to reduce water usage in operations and have reduced water consumption by 2.48 m3 for each tonne of production. Another water reporting practice is the establishment of "The Unilever Sustainability Development Group" which is a body that regulates Unilever's water usage in production.
More recently, companies such as CCA, LNL and Unilever Australia Pty Limited have taken the initiative to produce public disclosures about their management of water in line with GRI protocols.
CCA discloses a vast amount of information regarding their 'water management practices'. Their development and investment in water infrastructure makes CCA a national leader in water sustainability. They report that 'most of the water used goes into the beverage â€¦with the rest to run and clean our manufacturing sites'. Other practices include CCA's monitoring, assessing of their use of groundwater and investment in infrastructure in monitoring water use. CCA upholds GRI protocols of EN8 and EN9 through working alongside the Department of Water and Energy, Landcare and Hawkesbury Catchment Management Authority and the National Centre for Groundwater Management. This enables CCA to establish a sustainable limit on the extraction of ground water withdrawal from a source (EN8) and develop a monitoring and management plan of water sources affected by water withdrawal (EN9). Water efficiency practices have been adopted across many CCA plants resulting in 'water savings of around 13%'. In addition CCA most importantly has disclosed their water management issues from 2003 in their e.g. 'annual sustainability/environmental' reports.
These water reporting practices of CCA are closely related to those of Lion Nathan Limited (LNL). Their water reporting has been undertaken in 2008. As they are a beverage company like CCA, their practices are aimed at reducing water wastage in the production process. Similarly to CCA, LNL has 'programs and initiatives' in place to reduce and improve the efficiency of water usage. In contrast, LNL works mainly with the local authorities to determine better water efficiency methods e.g. waste water discharge, water consumption. Different to CCA, LNL has developed and implemented water recycling plant initiative (Castlemaine brewery, QLD) and some waste water has been used in irrigation of parks/golf courses, this is part of their land and farming management in line with EN10. This practice has allowed LNL to disclose a reduction in effluent discharge by 67% since the 1990s. Other general practices are training programs to start a 'water saving culture' aimed to share ideas and increase awareness, of water used in production, similar to CCA approach. EN8 of total withdrawal from source has been addressed by LNL reducing water and employing water plans inturn achieving a 4% reduction of water consumption per litre on last year.
Unilever's water reporting practices are limited as compared to that of CCA and LNL. Unilever's disclosure of water practices displays most of the organisation's water usage and impact is accountable to 'other parties', seen in 'we will increasingly work with our suppliers ...to reduce the total supply chain impact on water'(Annual Report 2010). Due to limited disclosure Unilever takes part in practices that promote responsible use of water by consumers and external suppliers, like the 'sustainable agricultural initiative'. Also, Unilever has engaged with 'community water partnerships' to promote efficient water practices and altered its product designs to use less water during consumer use. This is in contrast to the aims of reducing water at the company level, done by CCA and LNL and not primarily focusing on the supply chain process as seen in Unilever's approach. Overall, Unilever practices are not specially reported to be in line with any of the GRI protocols.
There is a growing need for companies who rely heavily on water as a resource in their production process to release public disclosures.
CCA has disclosed information about its reporting practise, to display their stance on water practises in the face of growing community concern about sustainability. The adequacy of reporting is high as it provides information to report users about CCA water usage per/unit of production, water saving achievements, water recycled, water related policy and management approach. This voluntary reporting highlights Coca-Cola's motive to 'keep face' of the company and demonstrate how CCA is upholding its social responsibility of the use of this resource responsibly. Finally, a main motive is to help investors to develop a greater understanding about the risks and opportunities that are related to water scarcity and the ways in which CCA is managing its use of water in its production process.
LNL has provided an adequate and detailed insight into the company's water management strategies and initiatives for the purpose of providing users with information to evaluate its water efficiencies for external stakeholders and internal management. This information is vital for business/investment related decision making and useful for communities concerned about water usage. This voluntary reporting by LNL provides the report user easy access to assess whether this 'large water consuming organisation' is meeting its targets of water efficiency through its current management strategy. LNL's motives and adequacy of their reporting are satisfying the information needs of the report user and the wider community and proving its social responsibility.
Unilever Australasia Pty Limited has very limited disclosure of its water management practises in regards to water usage per/unit of production and water bodies impacted by extraction or disposal. This inadequate disclosure can be attributable to it being a 'relatively small domestic subsidiary of large multinational where local initiatives; performance are aggregated within the global context'. Another possible motive is that Unilever is an organisation that does not use much water in is production process. Rather, its report provides information to the report user about the total environmental impact of their products and the impact of consumers and suppliers.
30 EASTERN ROAD
OCTOBER 5, 2012
MS. SERVELAN JACOBS
GOOD LIFE FARM
133 DARCY AVE
ORANGE NSW 1031
Dear Dr. Servelan Jacobs,
Thank you for your letter dated 16th August 2012 in which you expressed your wish to incorporate practices at The Good Life Farm so as to become more socially responsible and you inquired how you and your business can be more involved. Social Responsibility (SR) is every business's obligation to society in general and to the environment as a whole and it would be great to be a fully self sustaining and socially responsible farm.
I apologise for the time taken by me to respond but I was researching every possible avenue to make the farm even more socially responsible and self sustaining though providing a luxury holiday package where people can be one with nature.
There are numerous ways to be more SR and involved. Firstly, it is important to 'partner with a cause' e.g. as the business is involved with sustainability and farming you could as a doctor raise funds for e.g. The Royal Flying Doctors. This would allow you to emphasize a cause that matters, to your target customers attracting them to the Good Life Farm not just for a holiday but for a greater cause.
A more direct method of following SR practices is to donate to a non-profit organization. E.g. Informing customers 5% of funds earned are donated to a cause or hold a fundraising event. It is important to advertise this aspect so as to draw in more customers but at the same time donating to a worthy charity.
Going green is another method; make the Good Life Farm, totally self-sustaining. Ensure your customers are aware of this unique aspect of your business. This is very important practice, as in recent times there has been a social change where people respect and support socially responsible businesses.
Fair employment practices are part of social responsibility. Treating employees well is vital as this will lead to better customer service, generating better relationships with customers which will lead to increased business.
Finally 'keep good company' i.e. with your associates, employees, suppliers etc. This is crucial as what values you hold are reflected through who you support by carrying out business with them e.g. supporting a fair trade coffee supplier. This gives greater depth to the business's practices as you are 'consciously choosing associates' reflecting the values of the customers you expect to visit the farm, raising awareness and helping the wider community.
Though these practices are all well and good on paper, there are challenges you are bound to face when pursuing a more socially responsible business. Firstly, social responsibility lacks an airtight definition applicable to all businesses and because of this fluidity there is a stigma surrounding the term. Some perceptions of a business pursuing SR are that it is too costly; it detaches from business goals and is time-consuming and difficult to maintain.
These perceptions alluded to above may be held by your employees/managers who may find that they will be overworked and overloaded trying to ensure each activity in the business reflects social responsibility, leading to conflicting interests. The best way to manage this is to hire those who are passionate about your goal and understand your values relating to the business.
Furthermore a major challenge is having SR practices negatively affecting profit margins. Your aim is not primarily focused on making a profit, however note that there will be a large amount of cost endured by being more socially responsible, therefore keep an eye on expenses. This could lead to increases in the price of the holiday packages to cover maintenance costs resulting in your clientele falling. To combat this may need to 'cut corners' to make ends meet at times. Or you could offer another package for example a farm stay family weekend at a lower price and educate your customers to lead a healthier, ecologically friendly lifestyle, learning farm techniques like milking a cow etc. This enables customers to gain insight into your motive behind the business, while still preserving the integrity of the entity, through promoting SR first and running a business second.
Another challenge is preventing consumer cynicism. That is consumers find that businesses who adopt SR practices find they are 'pulling a PR stunt' and not truly acting in the best interest of the community or environment.
In conclusion, to be socially responsible from a business perspective you must face a range of challenges and overcome a number of barriers and criticisms. Therefore before making the decision to being 'more involved' and socially responsible reflect on the above points and determine whether it is best for the sustainability of your business The Good Farm Life.
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