"The Complexities of Recycling and the Rise of Sustainable Financial Disclosures"

Alfred Tang

Hatched by Alfred Tang

Jul 27, 2023

3 min read


"The Complexities of Recycling and the Rise of Sustainable Financial Disclosures"


Recycling has long been hailed as a solution to the ever-growing problem of plastic waste. However, recent studies have shed light on the hidden costs and challenges associated with the recycling process. From the spewing of microplastics to the need for consistent and comparable sustainability-related financial disclosures, it is clear that we need to reevaluate our approach to recycling and sustainability.

The Problem with Recycling: Microplastics Everywhere:

Contrary to popular belief, recycling doesn't completely eliminate the presence of plastic in the environment. Even at recycling centers, plastic can splinter into smaller bits known as microplastics. Shockingly, a single recycling facility can emit up to 6.5 million pounds of microplastic per year. These microplastics can enter our waterways and pose a threat to marine life. Moreover, researchers have found high levels of airborne microplastics within recycling facilities, putting workers at risk of inhalation. This revelation highlights the need for better waste management strategies that minimize the generation of microplastics.

The Rise of Sustainable Financial Disclosures:

In addition to the challenges of recycling, there is increasing pressure from investors and financial institutions to obtain consistent and comparable sustainability-related financial information. To address this demand, the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) has been established by the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Board of Trustees. The ISSB aims to develop a global baseline for sustainability-related financial disclosures, aligning Southeast Asia with major global markets.

The Proposed Standards and Their Implications:

The ISSB has released exposure drafts of the standards, which aim to provide stakeholders, particularly investors, with clear, consistent, and comparable information about a company's sustainability and climate-related risks and opportunities. The proposed standards leverage the existing TCFD framework and require disclosure of governance structures, strategic choices, and risk management approaches related to sustainability and climate. They also emphasize the disclosure of ESG and financial metrics and data across thematic and industry-specific domains. Importantly, the information should be incorporated into general-purpose financial reporting.

Key Requirements and Extensions Beyond TCFD:

The current draft of the climate-related disclosures (IFRS S2) outlines the key requirements for governance, strategy, risk management, and metrics and targets. The standards delve into extensive detail about governance processes, ensuring responsible individuals or groups are equipped with the necessary skills and subject to appropriate oversight. They also require organizations to provide a comprehensive account of how climate-related risks and opportunities could affect their business models, strategies, and financial performance. The standards go beyond TCFD by providing more detailed requirements for plans to respond to highlighted risks, resource allocation, and the organization's capacity to adapt to changing circumstances. Additionally, the proposed standards introduce separate disclosures for different scopes of carbon emissions, including Scope 3 emissions from supply and value chains.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Implement comprehensive waste management strategies that prioritize minimizing the generation of microplastics. This can include investing in advanced recycling technologies and promoting sustainable packaging alternatives.
  • 2. Stay informed about the evolving standards for sustainability-related financial disclosures. As these standards become regulatory requirements, organizations should proactively align their reporting practices to ensure consistency and comparability.
  • 3. Collaborate with industry peers and stakeholders to develop industry-specific metrics and targets that address climate-related risks and opportunities. Sharing best practices and knowledge can drive collective action towards a more sustainable future.


The complexities of recycling and the need for sustainable financial disclosures highlight the multifaceted nature of our efforts to combat environmental challenges. While recycling remains a crucial component of waste management, it is essential to address the unintended consequences, such as the release of microplastics. Simultaneously, the rise of sustainable financial disclosures demonstrates the growing importance of transparency and accountability in corporate sustainability practices. By taking action and staying informed, we can work towards a more sustainable and circular economy.

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