10 Examples of How Brands Track Sustainability KPIs

Learn how brands are tracking their sustainability KPIs today.

September 25, 2023

As the importance of sustainability and eliminating negative environmental impacts grows each day, more and more brands are launching with — or switching to — a circular design model.

However, circular design, the circular economy, and sustainability aren’t just as simple as keeping products in use.

With a circular design, products and services are designed without waste or pollution. After production and use, rather than heading to a landfill, products are recycled, refurbished, reused, or returned to the biosphere.

But even when all the elements of a circular design and the circular economy are considered, how do brands measure their true sustainability impact?

There are dozens of examples of different ways companies measure their sustainability impact using key performance indicators (KPIs). These are just a few of the many ways brands show their sustainability and their environmental impacts.

1. Ford Motors: Annual Sustainability Report

Ford Motors has released an annual sustainability report for 21 years. The 54-page report gives a breakdown of actions the company is taking to reduce environmental impacts and changes that have been made in recent years toward sustainability goals.

Some measures included in the 2020 Ford sustainability report include:

  • An additional 14 zero-waste to landfill sites created from the previous calendar year
  • Lowered the amount of waste going to landfill per vehicle by 21% from 2018 to 2020
  • Reduced absolute operational water use by 13% since 2018, and by 70% since 2000
  • Shared best practices with 51 different suppliers through the PACE program, which is expected to save 470 million gallons of water from 2019 to 2030
  • New Central Energy Plant in Dearborn, Michigan that will use 10 times less natural gas than a typical boiler facility and reduce the peak electricity use by 250%

In addition to revealing the changes to the sustainability impact through these KPIs, the company also uses the report to outline goals for the future — like being carbon neutral by 2050.

2. Houdini: Planetary Boundaries Assessment

Stockholm, Sweden-based sportswear company Houdini launched The Planetary Boundaries Assessment in 2018. The report measures the company’s impact on Earth, as they work toward not just becoming a zero-negative impact brand — but a positive one that is regenerative for the planet.

The report measures the company’s impact of materials including:

  • Cotton
  • Organic cotton
  • Polyester
  • Recycled polyester
  • Chemical recycling
  • Mechanical recycling
  • Wool ZQ-wool
  • Polyamide
  • Lyocell/Tencel

It also measures:

  • Impacts of fibers along the value chain
  • Compares, scales, and impacts the planetary boundaries

Houdini’s report also outlines the fashion industry’s impact on the environment, the importance of a circular economy and circular design, their current sustainability work and more. Houdini said the report was created to “understand the impact of our operations and to prioritise our policies” — and it does just that.

3. Nudie Jeans: Transparency pledge and tracking stages of production

Nudie Jeans, who make their pants with 100% organic cotton, made a Transparency Pledge. With this pledge, the Gothenburg, Sweden-based brand tracks and discloses all different stages of the production process.

Nudie gives a full supplier list, which discloses things like:

  • Factory name, country, and address
  • Process and production volume percentage
  • Worker numbers, including a breakdown of men and women
  • If the factory has a workers committee
  • If a Nudie Jeans employee visited the factory
  • Certifications the factory has

While many people may think of KPIs as being in the latter stages of production — or after the products are made and used — they start from the beginning. By tracking sustainability and being open about production practices from the start, businesses can more effectively measure their sustainability impact — and share that with consumers who value transparency.

4. Ripple: Partnership with Universities to Measure Environmental Impacts of Cryptocurrency

Ripple, a cryptocurrency and digital payment network based in San Francisco, California, is not only measuring its own carbon footprint — but also partnering with universities to measure the overall environmental impacts of cryptocurrency use.

Ripple partnered with the University College London (UCL) and the National University of Singapore to research how a shift to using digital currency has affected the planet.

Circular design and sustainability create opportunities for partnerships and collaboration that otherwise would not have existed. As more and more companies shift toward sustainable models, partnerships like Ripple and UCL and the National University of Singapore present opportunities for companies to not only measure their individual environmental impacts with KPIs — but also the sustainability impacts of an industry as a whole.

5. Air France–KLM Group: Measuring Carbon, Noise and Waste Impacts

This airline company has been rated a frontrunner on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for close to two decades — and it’s been recognized as one of the most sustainable airlines in the world.

The company uses sustainability KPIs like carbon emissions trackers including:

  • Neutral travel in mainland France
  • 50% less CO2 emissions in 2020 compared to 2019
  • 5.6% fewer per customer per kilometer compared to 2005
  • 39% reduction in noise compared to 2000
  • 56% decrease in non-recycled waste compared to 2011

The company also measures:

  • Group fuel consumption
  • Direct, indirect, and supply chain greenhouse emissions

Air France KLM-Group also works with stakeholders and policymakers. They set forth plans to further increase sustainability and environmental impacts in the coming years and decades.

6. Panera Bread: Responsibility Report

The St. Louis, Missouri-based food chain released their third Responsibility Report, tracking a variety of KPI sustainability measures over 2017 to 2019. From farm to table, the report revealed a variety of metrics involving the company’s aim to become more sustainable.

Some of the metrics in the report include:

  • Reporting on work agriculture experts, industry partners and non-government organizations (NGOs) to pilot sustainable agriculture projects for crops including romaine, tomato and wheat
  • Measuring carbon emissions based on ingredients of individual menu items
  • Work with IPM Institute of North America and Field to Market and suppliers to limit the use of pesticides and chemicals in farming

Panera also reports on other sustainability KPIs including:

  • 7 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity less in 2019 compared to the previous year
  • 2,000-gallon reduction of fuel usage in 2019
  • Tracking Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions

7. Davines: Taking Sustainability KPIs to the Next Level

While many companies track KPIs like carbon emissions and reduction, water use and reservation, and more from direct manufacturing, haircare and beauty company Davines goes a step further.

In their Sustainability Report, the Parma, Italy-founded company reveals how they go beyond tracking carbon emissions in manufacturing and production and work to offset impacts through:

  • CO2EQ (carbon dioxide equivalent) emissions from employee commutes to work
  • The entire lifecycle of their A Single Shampoo and Mask and Essential Haircare lines

Davines also uses a:

  • Qualitative, Strategic Life Cycle Assessment (SLCA)
  • Quantitative Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)

They also rate:

  • Biodegradability of ingredients
  • Packaging in both recyclable materials and from renewable sources
  • Paper and cardboard packaging
  • Plastic packaging
  • Percentage of production waste sent to the landfill
  • Electricity use in company offices

By going above and beyond tracking carbon emissions through production and manufacturing, the company further shows its sustainability impact with these KPIs.

8. DyeCoo: Eliminating Waste Metrics

Netherlands-based company DyeCoo makes its sustainability impact by eliminating harmful environmental effects from the start. In line with a circular design, the company dyes without pollution, unlike traditional water-dye methods.

Using CO2 technology, DyeCoo dyes fabrics with a solution that is 100% free of:

  • Water
  • Chemicals

The company also:

  • Has low supply costs, which are a great financial KPI
  • Oversees the entire chain, which allows them to be knowledgeable and track sustainability impacts in all areas of production
  • Has collaborations with Nike and Ikea, and works with other companies to broaden their impact

The company KPIs include a process that from the start is designed without the use of wasteful byproducts.

9. Wrangler and MyFarms Partnership for Sustainability Data-Sharing in the Cotton Industry

Jeans company Wrangler partnered with software company MyFarms to create a way for the cotton industry to share data.

The data will allow farmers to track sustainability data on a field level — from seeds and manufacturing — to retail. The two partnered together to create the paper Burden to Benefit, which shows the impacts of supply chains and showed how sustainability can improve them.

By using farming data, Wrangler — and other clothing production companies — can track sustainability KPIs.

10. Lehigh Technologies: Measuring Impacts of Recycled Tires

Lehigh Technologies turns tires into micronized rubber powders that can be used to make other materials — like construction materials and asphalt. The company is committed to sustainability, and partners with other brands to create raw materials out of the recycled rubber powder.

The company tracks KPIs surrounding the recycled tires to find sustainability impacts, including:

  • One pound of Lehigh’s micronized rubber powders (MPR) saves:
  • 10kWh of energy saved in comparison to traditional alternatives
  • 40% of the CO2 produced compared to traditional alternatives
  • Tires and post-industrial rubber from landfills
  • As of 2018, using the MRP Lehigh created 500 million new tires and manufactured retreads
  • Working to lessen roll resistance from tires, which account for 5% to 15% of a car’s fuel consumption

Whether it’s measuring impacts from designing without waste or measuring the amount of materials that are recycled, brands use a variety of KPIs to measure their sustainability impact. With the continuous design and innovation that comes with circular design and the circular economy, brands are continuously finding new ways to create a greener planet and lessen their carbon footprint.

Collaborations and partnerships present unique business opportunities for brands, as they work together to go from negative carbon emissions to net-zero, to having a positive impact on the Earth.


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