sustainability reportingCorporate Sustainability Reports not only provide information about sustainability practices and performance of individual companies, but are often also sources of very interesting bits of trivia!

by Elaine Cohen, Joint CEO of BeyondBusiness Ltd. Read Elaine’s blog. Follow Elaine on Twitter.

One of the reasons that I find Sustainability Reporting so facinating is that I learn so much about so much. Aside from the individual company processes and performance data, reports are a wealth of information about just about anything. Most often, this is information is related to an aspect of the reporting Company’s business but sometimes, it can be just anything at all.  A sort of trivia geek’s paradise. A “must” for aspiring winners of “Who wants to be a millionaire”. In fact, if you put all the 30,000 or so reports that have been published end-to-end, extracting all the useful pieces of information, you might end up with a compact edition of the Encyclopoedia Britannica. Here are 17 examples of  useful bits of trivia you can find in Sustainability Reports.

  • In 2010, International Data Corporation (ID C) estimates the world will create 988 exabytes of data—18 million times the amount of information in all the books ever written. HP, 2009
  • 25% of the world’s population already lives under water stress (less than 1700 m3/person/year). Nestle 2009
  • If they are plugged in, computers still consume energy (standby power) when powered off. Nikon, 2009
  • Every year up to 500 million people are affected by malaria and over one million die from it, mostly young children in Africa. Glaxo Smith Kline 2009
  • Solidified fat is one of the biggest causes of blocked sinks and can lead to blockages in our sewers. Wessex Water plc, 2009
  • In the late 1960s, it was anecdotally reported in the United States that postprandial discomforts such as numbness, general weakness and palpitations occurred after eating at Chinese restaurants. Ajinomoto, 2009
  • Automakers are moving toward lithium-ion batteries for next-generation HEVs and for PHEVs and BEVs. These batteries have greater energy density and are lighter in weight than nickel metal hydride batteries. Ford, 2009
  • An estimated 776 million adults—16% of the global adult population—lack basic literacy skills. HP, 2009
  • In 2007 the total losses sustained by the software industry as a direct result of software piracy were in excess of $40 billion worldwide. Symantec, 2008
  • It is predicted that global CO2emissions can be reduced by 11 million tons in 2010 and by 120 million tons in 2020 through the expanded use of solar cells. Asahi Glass 2009
  • Rotavirus, a severe diarrhoeal illness, is the second biggest killer of children under five years of age. Glaxo Smith Kline 2009
  • An estimated $1.2 trillion is wasted annually in the U.S. healthcare system, with redundant procedures and inefficient administration cited as two of the largest reasons. HP, 2009
  • In Japanese, the word inochi has a deep reverberation and subtle nuances. It implies a universal perspective and worldview. Ajinomoto, 2009
  • Half of secondary school science teachers in the UK have had no subject training within the past five years. Glaxo Smith Kline, 2009
  • Agriculture employs over one-third of the world’s working population and three-quarters of the world’s poor people live in rural areas. Nestle 2009
  • The human tongue can distinguish the five basic tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami. Ajinomoto, 2009. (errrr, umami ? hmm, not sure my tongue knows what that is…)

The next time you think that reading a sustainability report is just about reading a report, remember that, if you take the time to look beyond the cover, you will find that there is more to reports than meet the reports. It can be quite an enriching experience. Ha Ha. Well, moderately enriching. Oh, and watch this space,  I might just announce a competition in the near future on CSR Report Trivia , so get swotting. NO PRIZES for guessing what the prize will be. Ahem. OK, begins with C and rhymes with FUNKY.

© 2010, Elaine_Cohen. All rights reserved. Do not republish.

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Author: Elaine_Cohen (19 Articles)

Elaine Cohen is the Joint CEO of BeyondBusiness Ltd, a leading CSR consulting and reporting firm, offering a wide range of consulting services for the strategic development of social and environmental responsibility of businesses, reporting and assurance using the GRI and Accountability frameworks, and reporting on application of Global Compact principles. Elaine writes a blog on CSR reporting, expert CSR report reviews for ,tweets on CSR topics at @elainecohen and has specialist knowledge of governance, ethics, diversity, advancement of women, responsible workplace and use of social media for csr communications.