10 Tips for Successful EPRs
10 Tips for Successful EPRs
Establish a report structure that will suit your
reporting needs considering the nature and scope of your operations and
the relevant environmental issues of your organization. This structure
could be established as a "table of contents..." which will
then guide your reporting process. Its components should be in line with
those detailed in the ETWB Circular Memorandum No. 1/2007
EPD's A Guide to Environmental Reporting for Controlling Officer.
Then gather information and draft the report in accordance with your established
structure. It is also useful to establish environmental data and information
collection mechanisms that could effectively input information into your
reporting process at the end of each year.
All report sections should be coherently linked with a logical "red thread"
which runs through from the beginning to the end of the report. A coherent report will, at a minimum, logically
include: 1) appropriate background information to introduce the responsibilities, programme areas, operations,
issues and environmental management structure of your organization; 2) a Policy that details your organization's
commitments to improving performance in relevant environmental areas in light of item 1; 3) report contents that
relate to each policy commitment and detailed measures/initiatives undertaken in the reporting year and/or
previous years to improve performance to fulfill each commitment; 4) results of the measures/initiatives
undertaken and resultant performance levels; 5) assessment of performance clearly showing whether the
performance meets the objectives and targets or not; 6) follow-up actions and future objectives and targets to
clearly demonstrate continual improvement initiatives; and 7) top management's comments on the organization's
future focus and prioritization of environmental issues.
The annual environmental report should aim to provide year-on-year comparisons of
performance and improvement initiatives. For those areas in which objectives and targets were set in the
previous report, it would be essential to report on the relevant initiatives taken to fulfill those
objectives and targets and the specific performance levels achieved. For example, if your previous report
committed your organization to extending environmental training to another 20% of staff, your next report
should include information on how you provided that training and the results of the training (e.g.
attendance level, resulting environmental performance improvement due to improved knowledge, competence
and/or behavioural change). If your next report will be posted on your website, remember not to overwrite
your previous report with this new one. Reports of consecutive years should also be available for
They are responsible for implementing environmental management measures/initiatives,
setting environmental objectives and targets and/or implementing your Environmental Management System (EMS) if
it has been established, within your organization. The performance of the measures/initiatives will form the
basis of your report. As such, Green Manager/Executives will provide valuable information that will feed into
both the data collection and report writing processes.
Integration is a win-win strategic arrangement that
maximizes effectiveness and efficiency for both the environmental management
and reporting processes. Environmental management usually involves applying
the concept of Plan-Do-Check-Act and continual improvement in five distinct
management phases, including policy establishment, planning, implementation,
checking and corrective action, and management review (see more in EPD's
environmental management website at http://www.epd.gov.hk/epd/english/how_help/tools_ems/overview.html).
Environmental reporting is an excellent mechanism to strategically support
the review process, document the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle and the planned
actions for continual improvement, and encourage public feedback. The
EPR will hence become a " living document" that serves as a
combination of a "progress report", "working paper",
"blueprint" as well as a "feedback mechanism" for
the organization's environmental performance improvement. It is therefore
beyond a report that simply distributes environmental information. The
environmental management process will in turn benefit by having the EPR,
an annual official document, as its formal supporting document.
For example, energy/fuel/water consumption bills, material purchase orders, waste
disposal receipts (trip tickets), sewage surcharge receipts, organizational training activities and emergency
drills records, equipment/vehicle calibration and maintenance records, supplier and contractor performance
information, minutes of management review meetings, complaints records, etc.
As environmental performance levels may not always be measurable, there are instances
where estimation could help to provide information that will serve as an initial basis for performance
assessment. In estimating performance, remember to include typical and a-typical circumstances, direct and
indirect influences as well as internal and external factors to capture/reflect the actual pattern of
consumption/emissions/discharges/arisings that are to be estimated. Hence reasonable assumptions and
considerations for peak periods, seasonal variations, workdays, non-workdays, non-business hours work,
legislative changes, etc. are essential to arrive at reasonably accurate estimations. For example, if you were
estimating the quantity of your wastewater discharges you could estimate the average amount of wastewater
generated at your sanitary facilities per employee per day accounting for reduced usage on Saturdays and during
A very useful source of ideas for enhancing your report or for learning about reporting approaches from reports prepared by others. A lot of these reports are available from the internet. Visit the EPD link "A Collection of Local and Overseas Reports" ( http://www.epd.gov.hk/epd/english/how_help/tools_epr/collect.html),
individual reporting organizations' websites, the Global Reporting Initiative's
or Sustainability Report.com - the Portal for Sustainability Reports (http://www.enviroreporting.com)
to view on-line reports or download pdf versions of reports.
Reports could be compared, alone or together, against
a common set of defined, recognized, best practice criteria for reporting
to weigh their quality. This process is called benchmarking. The EPD's
Benchmark Tool - A
Benchmark for Environmental Performance Reports provides
a useful set of criteria that could readily be adopted. The credibility
of an EPR could be assured through the process of verification conducted
by an independent third party. This process not only systematically validates
the reported claims and data to assure reputation of the reporting organization,
but also recommends potential areas for improvement in future reports.
To ensure that the verification process conducted for your EPR is credible,
systematic and of good quality, your department/bureau can make use of
Assurance Standard to plan, oversee and assess the process.
For example, the Sustainability Reporting Update
from the Global Reporting Initiative (email: email@example.com)
and Sustainability News Services Update from Corporate Environmental Reporting
Mailinglist (email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
You could also check out the free, web-based newsletter of the Association
of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) on the latest developments and
updates on sustainability reporting issues at: http://www.accaglobal.com/en/technical-activities.html.