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stick-it notes on a blackboard that read: people, plant, and profit The triple bottom line (TBL) is a concept created by John Elkington – a world-renowned authority on business sustainability and corporate responsibility – in the 1990s, with the idea of encouraging American organisations to think more about their environmental impact. Traditionally, the bottom line measured the financial performance of a firm, such as profits, shareholder value and return of investment. However, the TBL uses these indicators alongside social and environmental dimensions to incorporate a more eco-friendly agenda within the company. One of the trickiest aspects of TBL isn’t defining the criteria that a business should be judging itself on though. Instead, the challenge lies in measurement. While profits can be easily recognised using the quantification of dollars, pounds or euros, finding a common unit for environmental impact isn’t as straightforward. There is an argument that all areas of TBL – including environmental damage and social welfare – can still be monetised, but then there is still a grey zone regarding how much value is universally placed on each element. Ultimately, the way TBL is defined and measured will be different for each organisation, so targets and long-term strategies that involve this should be discussed at length by all stakeholders before an agreement is drawn up on what the company should be aiming for and how it can track its progress. For example, a manufacturing plant might want to measure it’s TBL by the amount of waste it sends to landfill, while a transport company will find it more useful to calculate the level of greenhouse gas emissions it produces on an annual basis. The proportion of organisations adopting a TBL is continually increasing, with many now recognising the value such an approach can have on long-term profitability. Reducing waste can often result in bringing down costs, while taking a stance on corporate social responsibility (CSR) in this way can reflect positively on the firm. If you’d like to find out more about this and CSR, then why not check out our available training courses today?

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