Last edited 25 Nov 2020

Triple Bottom Line of sustainability

The Triple Bottom Line (TBL) is an accounting concept which was introduced to widen the focus of businesses from the traditional financial bottom line to include social and environmental responsibilities.

The term was introduced in 1994 by John Elkington to measure the level of social responsibility, economic value and environmental impact of a business. It sought to build on the concepts of sustainable development which had been defined by the UN’s Brundtland Commission in 1987.

In terms of sustainability, a company adopting TBL measures seeks to minimise its environmental impact as much as possible, or to benefit the natural environment in some way. The ecological footprint of a company can be reduced by managing energy consumption, switching to renewable energy sources, reducing manufacturing waste, adopting safe disposal methods or recycling, and so on. A life cycle assessment of materials and products, following a cradle-to-grave approach, is most commonly undertaken by TBL companies to assess environmental costs.

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