Equivalents

Key takeaways

  1. An equivalent is a thing that is equal to another in value, amount, function, or meaning. In your analysis, you can use human-centric equivalents to represent a company's waste, water, energy or GHG emissions or their products'.

  2. Company or industry comparisons can also be a useful tool to rate the scale of the company's impact; read our dedicated guide: how to use comparisons if you’d like to add a comparison.

  3. Remember, equivalents should be secondary to the description of total impact, used as supporting evidence.

What is it?

Making a comparison of the company’s production, consumption, emissions, (or other) to its main competitors is a useful way to assess the scale.

Adding on to this comparison, it is also possible to use equivalents. An equivalent is a thing that is equal to another in value, amount, function, or meaning.

We favour using a human-centred approach as a unit of measurement.


How to treat it

🗑 Waste

In your analysis, you can compare the company’s operational waste or product waste to a person' waste in the country where the company operates (waste per X million people in a day). In other words, the company’s waste is equivalent to how many people’s waste in a day/year?

Example

If a British company is producing 15,000 tonnes of waste, this can be comparable to 7.5 million British individuals’ waste in a day (assuming that the average person in the UK produces 2 kg of waste per day).


Find out how to treat the broader topic of waste in our how-to guides Operation Waste and Product Waste.


🚰 Water

In your analysis, you can compare the company’s water consumption or its product lifecycle to a person' water consumption in a certain country (water per X million people in a day). In other words, the water consumption of the company/its products is equivalent to how many people’s water use in a day/year?

Example

If the same British company withdraws 15 million cubic meters of water in a year, and given that an individual in the UK consumes on average 141 litres of water a day, the consumption is equivalent to over 106 million individuals’ daily water consumption (or 291,460 people’s yearly use).

If you are writing on a company’s water use, make sure to read our how-to guide Water Reserve Depletion.



⚡Energy

In your analysis, you can compare the company’s energy consumption (operational energy) to a person or households' energy consumption in a certain country (energy use per X million people in a day, or energy use per Y amount of households). In other words, the energy consumption of the company is equivalent to how many peoples/households’ energy use in a day/year?

Example

Continuing with the previous examples, the British company is consuming 5.5 million MWh of energy, this can be comparable to 158,000 British individual’s yearly energy consumption (assuming that the average person in the UK uses 34.82 MWh of energy per year). It is also comparable to 458,000 households’ monthly energy usage on average (12 MWh per month per household).

If you are writing on a company’s water use, make sure to read our how-to guide Operational Energy.



🌏💨 GHG emissions (or CO2e)

In your analysis, you should compare the company’s total emissions (scope 1, 2 and 3) or its product’s lifecycle emissions to that of the world, a country, a company, or a household.

Example

The company’s total emissions for the year stood at 19 Mt-CO2e, equivalent to 3.2 M homes’ electricity usage for a year. The company’s emission is equal to 1.5% of Japan’s total emissions for the year. (taken from https://app.impaakt.com/analyses/14067)

Note that the EPA Equivalency Calculator provides useful equivalents.

Find out how to treat the topic in our how-to guide Greenhouse Gases, if you are interested in this topic or writing about it.



Caution
  • When providing an equivalent, please specify the time period. Is it equivalent to the amount of waste produced per year or per day? This is a small, but important, distinction.

  • Note that equivalents should be secondary to the description of the total impact. It should also be secondary to the comparison to the industry average, and when it is unavailable, benchmarked against its main competitors.

Although adding equivalencies are not mandatory, we strongly recommend that you include them as they can really help visualise and assess the scale of the impact. They should only be used when they follow the standards described above.



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