The Intersection of Sustainability Reporting and Circular Economy

Alfred Tang

Hatched by Alfred Tang

Apr 17, 2024

4 min read


The Intersection of Sustainability Reporting and Circular Economy


Sustainability reporting and the circular economy are two important concepts that have gained significant attention in recent years. As businesses strive to become more environmentally responsible, they are increasingly focused on measuring and disclosing their sustainability efforts. At the same time, the circular economy has emerged as a framework for designing waste out of the production system and reusing materials to create a more sustainable future. While these two areas may seem distinct, there are common points where they intersect, creating opportunities for businesses to make a positive impact. In this article, we will explore the connection between sustainability reporting and the circular economy and discuss how companies can leverage these concepts to drive meaningful change.

The Evolution of Sustainability Reporting:

Sustainability reporting has come a long way since its inception. Initially, companies primarily focused on reporting their environmental impact through metrics like greenhouse gas emissions. However, as the importance of sustainability grew, reporting frameworks expanded to include social and governance factors as well.

Recently, the Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB) released the AASB ED SR1, which outlines new requirements for sustainability reporting. These requirements mandate that entities in different groups must disclose their climate-related financial information and greenhouse gas emissions. The inclusion of climate-related disclosures highlights the growing recognition of the role businesses play in addressing climate change.

Circularity and the Importance of Incremental Progress:

The circular economy, on the other hand, emphasizes the need to design products and systems that minimize waste and promote resource efficiency. It encourages businesses to adopt a holistic approach, considering the entire lifecycle of a product from design to disposal. While achieving a fully circular economy may seem like a daunting task, it is essential to recognize the value of incremental progress.

Incorporating circularity into sustainability reporting allows companies to highlight their efforts to improve product recyclability and reduce waste. While small changes may not seem significant, they contribute to the overall goal of creating a more sustainable future. It is crucial to avoid dismissing these incremental improvements as greenwashing, as they represent steps in the right direction.

The Intersection of Sustainability Reporting and Circular Economy:

The connection between sustainability reporting and the circular economy lies in the shared goal of reducing environmental impact. By integrating circularity into their reporting practices, companies can demonstrate their commitment to resource efficiency and waste reduction. This alignment opens up opportunities for businesses to implement circular strategies and drive positive change on a larger scale.

One example of this intersection is the measurement of greenhouse gas emissions. While sustainability reporting traditionally focused on Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions, the circular economy encourages businesses to consider Scope 3 emissions as well. Initially, the AASB ED SR1 allows entities a grace period of one year before they are required to report their Scope 3 emissions. This flexibility acknowledges the challenges companies may face in measuring and disclosing these emissions accurately. However, it also emphasizes the importance of eventually including Scope 3 emissions in sustainability reporting to provide a comprehensive view of a company's environmental impact.

Actionable Advice for Businesses:

  • 1. Embrace Incremental Progress: Companies should recognize the value of small improvements in product recyclability and waste reduction. While these changes may seem insignificant on their own, they contribute to the overall goal of achieving a circular economy.
  • 2. Integrate Circular Strategies: Businesses should incorporate circularity into their sustainability reporting practices. By highlighting efforts to design products for recyclability and reduce waste, companies can demonstrate their commitment to the circular economy and inspire others to follow suit.
  • 3. Collaborate and Share Best Practices: Collaboration is key to driving meaningful change. Businesses should actively engage in conversations with industry peers and stakeholders to share best practices and collectively work towards a more sustainable future. By learning from each other, companies can accelerate the transition to a circular economy.


The intersection of sustainability reporting and the circular economy presents a unique opportunity for businesses to drive positive change. By integrating circularity into reporting practices and embracing incremental progress, companies can demonstrate their commitment to resource efficiency and waste reduction. It is essential for businesses to recognize that sustainability is not an exclusive club but a collective effort that requires collaboration and shared best practices. Through these actions, companies can contribute to a more sustainable and circular future.

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