GRI Waste Standard Takes On Global Waste Crisis

Water, Waste, and Materials - GRI is updating its Standards again and you are invited to comment.

In this post we’ll review the major changes in the new GRI Draft Standard on Waste and give you the top three things to remember when preparing your 2018 GRI Report.

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In June 2018, the Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB), the independent standard setting body of GRI, released a revised Standard - GRI 303: Water and Effluents 2018 - for reporting material impacts related to an organization’s withdrawal, consumption, and discharge of Water.

As a result of this revision, several disclosures covering effluents in GRI 306: Effluents and Waste 2016 were incorporated into the updated GRI 303: Water and Effluents 2018. This created the need to rename and revise the remaining content in GRI 306: Effluents and Waste 2016 and update the disclosures to reflect the latest trends and practices in waste management. The scope of the revision has also included the review of relevant content from GRI 301: Materials 2016.

Feedback Wanted on Exposure Draft of GRI 306: Waste

The GSSB has published the results of this revision and is soliciting feedback. If you are part of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Community, as we are, you will want to review and comment on the exposure draft of the revised GRI topic-specific Standard GRI 306: Waste. Provide your feedback until Monday, July 15, 2019 using GRI’s public comment form below.

Notable Changes in GRI 306: Waste

  • New waste-specific management approach disclosures. These additional requirements are intended to complement the disclosures in GRI 103: Management Approach. They focus on understanding how the organization generates and manages waste with emphasis on significant impacts on the environment globally and in the host communities. See Disclosure 306-1 and Disclosure 306-2.

  • Greater emphasis on the connection between materials and waste. This provides a better understanding of how materials procurement and use affect the quantity and quality of waste generated.

  • Greater emphasis on impacts in the value chain and how the organization manages these. This prompts organizations to look at the full length of their value chain and understand where they cause or contribute to actual and potential impacts. It supports organizations with identifying the most effective actions to prevent waste generation and to mitigate and remediate the environmental and social impacts of waste that has already been generated.

  • Introduction of the concepts of circularity and waste prevention. This shifts the perception of waste from an ‘unwanted burden’ that needs to be efficiently managed after it has been created, to viewing it as a source of valuable materials and an opportunity to change how organizations create products and services in ways that prevent waste generation.

  • Reporting requirement on waste streams. This assists in understanding any critical waste streams the organization generates or manages. See Disclosure 306-3-a.

  • Revised waste management methods. The methods now better align with the waste management hierarchy. See Disclosure 306-3-b and Disclosure 306-3-c.

  • Reporting requirement on how the waste has been managed. This highlights if the organization knows whether the waste has been managed appropriately once it leaves the organization’s facilities. See Disclosure 306-3-e.

  • Removed disclosure on the transport of hazardous waste. This disclosure lacked essential contextual information necessary to assess the negative or positive impact of transboundary movement of waste.

  • Definitions are revised.

  • More extensive reporting guidance is provided.

Three Key Points for 2018 GRI Reports

It is important to remember the following three key points as you prepare for changes to the GRI Standards and compile your current report:

  1. It is required that you indicate the year of each standard you used in your GRI Index. This became especially important when GRI 303: Water and Effluents 2018 and GRI 403: Occupational Health and Safety 2018 were published. Your stakeholders will need to know which standard you used during the transition period when it is possible for reporters to use either 2016 or 2018 Standards.

  2. If Water is a material topic and you are use GRI 303: Water and Effluents 2018 to report on your water related impacts, you will need to report on all three topic-specific disclosures regardless of whether you are reporting “in accordance” with the Core or Comprehensive option. Found in the “D. Background context” section of GRI 303: Water and Effluents 2018, is the statement, “Due to the strong relationship between water withdrawal consumption and discharge, the reporting organization is expected to report on all three topic-specific disclosures of GRI 303.”

  3. All of the additional Management Approach Disclosures found in GRI 303: Water and Effluents 2018 (Disclosures 303-1 and 303-2) and GRI 403: Occupational Health and Safety 2018 (Disclosures 403-1 through 403-7) must be disclosed regardless of whether you are reporting “in accordance” with the Core or Comprehensive option.

For in-person training on the GRI Standards – and more tips like this – join us for our expert-led GRI Certified Training Course in Indianapolis, Sacramento or Los Angeles. Find an upcoming training date near you!


KERAMIDA provides Sustainability Reporting Training Services to organizations throughout the U.S. as a GRI Certified Training Partner. For more information about the changes to the GRI framework, please call us today at (800) 508-8034 or contact us here.


Blog Author

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Pamela Griesemer, M.S., LEED GA, ENV SP, FSA
Vice President of Sustainability Services
KERAMIDA Inc.

Contact Pamela at pg@keramida.com.