Georgia and Washington State Agencies Help Ceres Expand Facility Reporting Project

Georgia and Washington State Agencies Help Ceres Expand Facility Reporting Project

Ceres has formed new partnerships with state environmental agencies in Georgia and Washington to expand participation in its new Facility Reporting Project aimed at improving sustainability reporting and performance at individual facilities across the U.S.

Ceres announced new partnerships with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the Washington State Department of Ecology, which will both actively promote Ceres' Facility Reporting Project as a way to help companies improve facility-level practices on environmental, social and other sustainability issues.

"These partnerships are a key milestone in Ceres' efforts to work closely with state agencies in implementing the Facility Reporting Project, which is already being pilot tested at a half-dozen company facilities across the country," said Mindy S. Lubber, president at Ceres. "Ceres invites other states to consider opportunities for similar partnerships."

Ceres is a national coalition of investors, environmental groups and other public interest organizations working with companies to address sustainability challenges such as global climate change. Among the bedrocks of Ceres' work is pushing companies to improve their reporting and disclosure on sustainability issues, including social and environmental performance. In the late 1990s, Ceres launched the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), which has since become the de-facto international standard for corporate reporting on economic, social and environmental performance. Today, more than 700 companies worldwide follow the GRI guidelines in their public reporting on sustainability issues.

After an extensive stakeholder process with dozens of diverse organizations, Ceres launched the Facility Reporting Project in 2002 as a way to create a generally-accepted, consistent, comparable and credible sustainability reporting framework that companies and other organizations can use at the facility level. It can also support performance-focused regulatory and voluntary arrangements, including "performance track" programs, performance covenants, and adoption of environmental management systems.

Ceres, with technical advisory assistance from the Tellus Institute, spent much of 2004 getting feedback on the draft version of the FRP Sustainability Reporting Guidance from 60 organizations, including representatives from companies, labor groups, trade associations, government agencies and social and environmental NGOs. The reporting guidance is designed to be compatible with organization-level reporting guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative. Three Ceres companies - Ford, YSI and Harwood Products - along with the Louisville & Jefferson County Metropolitan Sewer District, are already pilot testing the guidance at specific facilities. New Hampshire Ball Bearings, Smithfield Foods, and Rockwell Collins also are participating, and Ceres is looking for more companies to join the project.

The FRP Sustainability Reporting Guidance is intended for use by both new and experienced reporters, and by private, public and institutional facilities. Facilities include manufacturing plants, mines, campuses, ports and terminals, and all physical installations. The FRP may also prove useful to government agencies that wish to adopt or reference the project as part of their performance-oriented programs.

Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources Pollution Prevention Assistance Division is forming a stateworking group with up to six facilities that will each pilot the FRP Sustainability Reporting Guidance. The state Pollution Prevention Assistance Division will use the FRP as a framework to help these facilities increase their stakeholder engagement activities and to better understand the benefits as well as the administrative burden for reporting indicators at the facility-level.

“We believe that working with Ceres and using the FRP framework will help move our facility partners into the next stage of sustainability reporting, thereby enabling participants to enhance and report their community outreach, sustainability, and supply chain performance and activities,” said Bob Donaghue, Director of the Pollution Prevention Assistance Division with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

State and other agencies interested in partnering with Ceres to run similar state or regionally-focused working groups should contact Ceres as soon as possible. Each facility is asked to contribute a nominal fee to defray the costs of Ceres staff support in such tasks as stakeholder engagement, identification of report content and draft report reviews by peer companies and stakeholders. State agencies will have the opportunity to support local facilities in these efforts.

Washington’s Department of Ecology will be using the FRP framework to determine if an environmental footprint can practically be measured at large industrial facilities. The guidance will first be evaluated by looking at pulp and paper mills’ facility impacts in the Washington region. The analysis will be performed by a consultant, Natural Logic in Oakland, Calif. -- which is also a member of the Ceres network. Ceres and Ecology hope to encourage companies to consider public reporting and community engagement as a result of this analysis.