Sustainability in accounting
Not just a green issue
When anyone mentions the word ’sustainability’, the automatic response is always about saving the
environment; and while that is one large part of the issue, sustainability in an organisation is so much
more. There are three parts to the sustainability issue which needs to be reviewed – environmental,
economic and social. Remember, you will need to review at least one of these areas and make
recommendations for improvement.
Environmental sustainability
Environmental sustainability can be encapsulated in three words – ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ –
but there are many different ways in which these aims can be achieved. In the most simplistic
terms, we can reduce by just ensuring we turn lights off when we leave the office on an evening,
reuse envelopes wherever possible and recycle paper, of course ensuring confidentiality is
maintained. However, when reviewing these areas and making recommendations for the Internal
controls and accounting systems project report these areas must be considered in much more
When reviewing how to reduce energy you should assess how your building consumes and
wastes energy by conducting an audit to show where and how energy is being wasted. This will
then give you something to measure any improvements against.
Reusing at work is not just about paper. Consider what happens to old office equipment and
furniture. Is best use made of these? Does your organisation have policies on these issues?
Recycling is not just for paper; consideration should be given to all waste, and recycling schemes
could be set up in all organisations. Recycling just one drinks can saves enough energy to power
a TV for three hours.

Economic sustainability
Economic sustainability can be defined as ‘economic growth that can occur without damaging the
social fabric of a community or harming the environment’. It is about identifying various strategies
that make...