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UK gov. sets ambitious sustainability reporting guidance for public sector

The UK’s HM treasury has released guidance on sustainability reporting for the public sector in England, outlining minimum requirements and recommendations for best practice.

The guidance covers a variety of aspects of non-financial reporting from waste to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and is aligned with the Greening Government Commitments (GGC) which sets out the UK government’s commitments for delivering sustainable operations by 2020.

The guidance introduces a minimum standard for GHG emissions which includes reporting the emissions from combustion boilers and staff travel from a result of the use of public transport and commercial airlines. While this excludes the requirement to include international air and rail travel, organisations can report this on a voluntary basis.

In regards to staff travel, the guidance notes that if staff are using travel cards, season tickets or other travel arrangements such as Oyster cards, the organisations may decide to equate financial expenditure associated with the card with travel emissions for purpose of determining carbon emissions.

The guidance notes that this is one of the easiest GHG emissions to monitor and control. It noted: ‘While for some organisations, they may be relatively small in relation to the overall carbon footprint, they have a significant role to play in changing the culture of an organisation in terms of carbon management.’

The guidance said it is for this reason why it has been included as part of the minimum requirements for public sector reporting.

In regards to waste, the guidance suggests monitoring waste disposal should be split into different subsections such as landfill, recycled, incinerated, and composted. It said reporting financial data from the individual waste streams may be harder to determine, every effort should be made to report these alongside a total cost for waste.

The reporting on waste aims to help meet the waste targets set out in the GGC which includes:

  • Reduce waste sent to landfill to less than 10% of overall waste by 2020 compared to the 2009–10 baseline
  • To reduce amount of waste generated and increase the proportion that is recycled
  • To reduce paper consumption by 50% by 2020

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