How much does it cost to dispose of a ton of waste? The almost globally correct answer is: more and more. For waste-intensive industries, waste is one of the major operating costs. Reason enough to change the perspective, to get to the root of the problem and to perceive waste no longer as waste, but as an opportunity. This is where the new GRI 306: Waste 2020 Standard can help you.

Sustainability reports - for many companies in Germany, for example, they are already mandatory. Others report voluntarily on their sustainability activities and performance. They are aware that transparency creates trust - especially when it comes to sustainability issues.

When it comes to reporting, many are guided by the standards of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). The basis for reporting is founded on three general and 34 topic-specific standards. A sustainability report based on the GRI standards therefore complies with the requirements of the three general standards and also publishes information on the topics that are material in relation to the company's sustainability performance.

Waste - A Corporate Problem

Waste can be generated by the activities of the company itself, for example in the manufacture of products and the provision of services. Waste can, of course, also be generated by upstream and downstream companies in the company's value chain. All of these dimensions are scrutinized when reporting in accordance with GRI 306: Waste.

If inadequately disposed of, waste can lead to significant negative impacts on the environment and human health - across borders. When waste is incinerated or landfilled, the resources and materials it contains are lost for future use, accelerating its depletion.

Waste is accordingly not only a problem for society, but also for companies - for example, when customers prefer products that produce less waste, when resources become scarce, or when the cost of disposal continues to rise.

Addressing problems with GRI 306: Waste

Companies that have identified waste as a material issue are required to identify and manage their waste-related impacts when reporting under the GRI standards. GRI 306: Waste 2020 was developed for this purpose. It is the first globally applicable tool for companies to report and communicate on their waste impacts.

GRI 306: Waste introduces a closer relationship between materials and waste to help reporting companies identify and manage their waste-related practices and impacts throughout the value chain. In doing so, the standard builds on current disclosure, circularity and waste prevention concepts that are proven best practices in the waste industry.

New insights from GRI 306: Waste

Using the standard, companies can:

  • Understand and publicly report how sourcing, design, and use of materials result in waste-related impacts.
  • Enable comprehensive insights into the quantity and quality of waste - including its causes, where it occurs, and how impacts are managed.
  • Identify and report on circularity and waste prevention opportunities and actions. This will help you identify potential opportunities that arise from your waste.
  • Assess and take responsibility for waste generated throughout the value chain (both upstream and downstream).

Download the standard here.


The GRI 306: Waste 2020 Standard updates, expands and replaces GRI 306: Effluents & Waste 2016, and applies to companies of all sizes, regardless of where they are in their waste management and reporting practices.

The standard becomes effective on January 1, 2022. This means that reports published on or after Jan. 1, 2022, that mention waste as a material topic must incorporate the standard. Earlier implementation is possible and is explicitly requested by GRI.

What DQS can do for you

DQS is a licensed verifier for sustainability reporting. An external review by DQS confirms the credibility and adequacy of your sustainability report.

Constanze Illner

Constanze Illner (she/her) is Research and Communications Officer in the area of sustainability and food safety. In this position, she keeps an eye on all important developments in this context and informs our clientele in a monthly newsletter. She also moderates the annual Sustainability Heroes conference.