It takes a lot of effort to get non-financial reporting right. And with the ever emerging new legislation and frameworks, this effort is not getting any less. The example of Novozymes shows that companies can turn this burden into a business opportunity by capturing the value that is harnessed in the abundance of data. Through big data techniques, peer-comparisons are made and the non-financial data is harvested and combined with market information resulting in clear prospects.
What more can non-financial data do for your business?
As the level of integrated reporting improves, so does the reliability and coverage of non-financial data. At the same time companies are discovering how this data can be used in a more versatile way. To give some direction, there are three different approaches that can be singled out:
- Compare: this is the most commonly used approach by conducting regular sector eco-efficiency studies and benchmarking for example on topics such as water, energy use and waste.
- Combine: the combination of different data sources can lead to new insights. For instance the effectiveness of the communication around sustainability can be assessed by combining the available Bloomberg Dow Jones Sustainability Index data with reputational benchmarks such as RepTrak.
- Deep-dive: using a combination of the two first approaches to zoom in on a specific issue or solution for instance by combining company LCAs and impact studies with market data.
The recently published Novozymes ‘Acre Study’ is an excellent example of how leveraging non-financial data works: using biosolutions on the same piece of land could dramatically increase the productivity of the land, resulting in more feed/food and energy and less CO2. The study combines detailed life cycle assessments (LCAs) from the scientific literature as well as LCA studies that have not been published but have undergone critical review in accordance with the ISO standards for LCA.
Six benefits of biology across the value chain
Based upon a one-acre corn field, which, using conventional farming methods, produces 153 bushels of corn to enable the production of 900 chickens, the impact would be the following:
- More corn
Coating the corn seeds with microbes makes phosphorous in the soil more available to plants, resulting in an additional 3 bushels of corn.
- Better utilization of animal feed
Adding enzymes to the chickens’ feed results in improved digestibility, saving phosphorus, fat, and soybean meal with a slight increase in corn use.
- More biodiesel and animal feed
The fat saved from optimizing the chickens’ feed is used in the production of 13 US gallons of biodiesel while 16 pounds of soybean meal (protein-rich animal feed) is freed up for other feed applications.
- More starch-based ethanol and animal feed
Microbes enable 3 extra bushels of corn of which some is consumed in the modifications of the chicken feed ration. The rest makes 3 US gallons of starch-based ethanol and 16 pounds of protein-rich animal feed.
- More cellulosic ethanol
30% of the corn stover (residue from the corn crops) is removed (30% is a sustainable rate, preserving the quality of the soil) to produce 100 US gallons of cellulosic ethanol and 230 kWh of bioelectricity, using enzymatic solutions.
- Less greenhouse gas emissions
The additional outputs (feed and biofuels) obtained with biosolutions on the one-acre plot replace feed production elsewhere as well as fossil fuels. Together with reduced field emissions and resource savings (phosphorus), this leads to a total reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 1.1 metric tons of CO2 equivalents.
Impressive numbers when scaling on a US-level
Based upon their LCA data, Novozymes’ researchers continued to calculate the potential of biosolutions for US agriculture. By adding biosolutions to farmed corn fields in the US, the study shows that in addition to the 9 billion chickens already produced in the US, the same land could also produce 10 billion US gallons of bioethanol, save 120 million pounds of pure phosphorous and avoid over 87 million metric tons of CO2 equivalents.
Capturing more value from your non-financial data?
To increase the value capture from LCAs, together with PRé Sustainability, Finch & Beak has developed the “Opportunity Checker”. Combining two well-established and proven ways of determining material impact of sustainability issues, a materiality assessment and a LCA hotspot analysis, opportunities for value capture are uncovered.
By combining both in a smart way, an organization can pinpoint what’s most relevant and where the biggest difference can be made. By scoring issues and impacts on both scales a matrix is created illustrating the biggest opportunities for innovation.
Are you interested in capturing more value from your non financial data. Feel free to contact Finch&Beak for more information on the Opportunity Checker and our no cure-no pay solutions. Jan van der Kaaij at email@example.com or call +31 76 522 28 17.
This article is largely based on The Acre Study that was conducted by Novozymes. The full case can be found in the attached download. Novozymes aims to improve how food and beverages are produced and bring better products to consumers. Other sectors within the food and beverages industry that Novozymes focuses on include beer, wine and dairy. For more information on Novozymes, visit the Novozymes website.