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11 Oct 2023, 13:27
Benjamin Wehrmann

Quarter of German SMEs already compiling sustainability reports – survey

Clean Energy Wire

About one in four companies classified as small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Germany has compiled its own sustainability report in recent years, technical certifier TÜV has found in a survey. More than half of all companies with 250 to 1,000 employees and a little less than a quarter of companies with 50 to 249 employees had made such a report, the survey of 500 companies revealed. The largest share of companies (41%) compiling their own sustainability report was found in the industry sector, followed by energy generation, construction and transport (about 30% each). Only about two-thirds of the companies that did write about the sustainability aspects of their business also published their report, even though these “serve as an important instrument to document, evaluate and initiate environmental and climate measures,” TÜV head Joachim Bühler said. The European Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) would soon oblige some 15,000 companies across Germany to compile sustainability reports and have them certified by third parties. “The task now is to establish an open market for certification to avoid bottlenecks in capacity and high costs for small and medium-sized companies,” Bühler said. According to the survey, only 42 percent of SMEs have so far dealt with the requirements of the directive, and 57 percent have not yet done so.

Sustainability reports are meant to inform about the measures a company is taking with respect to environmental and climate matters as well as the social and economic impact of its business activities. According to the TÜV survey, the vast majority of companies said that reporting could improve their energy efficiency, reduce raw material use and cut waste. At the same time, the reports could help improve the company’s image and compliance with regulatory requirements. Renowned reporting standards, such as that by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), could help make sustainability reports a “reliable source of information for investors” and other stakeholders to assess the impact a company has in environmental and climate action, Bühler said.

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