Supported by:

Understanding the
financial value of
environmental
performance in
consumer goods

View our parallel research in
the telecommunications sector

CDP and Accenture Strategy worked together, using almost 2,400 company responses across three years of submission data and interviews with senior consumer goods executives, to understand and highlight the link between superior environmental performance and better corporate financial results.

Key findings

  1. 1 Despite a $447bn+ opportunity, many businesses still fail to capture or report financial value from strong environmental performance
  2. 2 Climate and environmental risks, even with known impacts of $700bn+, remain poorly understood and under-quantified despite increasing investor urgency
  3. 3 Sustainable business leaders drive positive financial impact through superior environmental performance, but many firms are missing out

Actions for business

  1. 1 Define your value framework, identify your opportunities and set achievement goals
  2. 2 Ruthlessly execute on iconic wins, shout about success and build enduring valuation capabilities and culture
  3. 3 Apply financial capabilities to capture environmental opportunities and show investors a resilient business
 

Progressive environmental performance drives stronger financial outcomes. For businesses that have not yet quantified the value opportunity, the journey starts here.

From our analysis, we can only conclude that the majority of consumer goods firms are not far along on this journey.

We recommend three practical steps to start.

Conclusion

Leading sustainable businesses continue to prove what years of research already says: that understanding, quantifying and driving value from progressive environmental action is critical for building more resilient companies and delivering superior financial results.

Markets and investors are increasingly focused on how climate change will impact capital preservation and future returns in consumer goods. Therefore, disclosing environmental performance and the associated value created and protected is vital.

For more information:

Contact Accenture Strategy

Justin Keeble

Managing Director, Sustainability

justin.keeble@accenture.com

Accenture Strategy - Sustainability

Contact CDP

Paul Robins

Director of Fundraising

paul.robins@cdp.net

CDP – driving sustainable economies

Supported by:

About this Study

This study is based on Accenture Stategy’s analysis of the responses to CDP's Climate, Water and Forests questionnaires in 2014, 2015 and 2016. The initial analysis drew on Accenture Strategy’s proven valuation frameworks to examine what Income Statement and Balance Sheet impacts the companies reporting to CDP had experienced, and that they could experience in the future, as a result of their environmental performance. In addition to evaluation of discrete quantitative responses, Accenture Strategy also assessed several thousand qualitative responses to CDP’s questionnaires to collate a fuller picture of the financial outputs and outcomes of CDP’s members’ environmental performance.

In the second phase of work, a range of stakeholders from across the Telecommunications and Consumer Goods sectors were consulted via interviews to explore the key barriers each sector is facing to using environment-focussed financial data when making business decisions, and to explore potential solutions for how to address these barriers.

Accenture Strategy and CDP focused on Consumer Goods and Telecommunications sectors to highlight differences in financial opportunities and risks across sectors. Consumer Goods businesses are heavily exposed to physical, climate and operational risks through reliance on agricultural and commodity inputs, and face challenges to brand value from inaction on environmental issues. Telecommunications businesses have exposure to carbon risks through their energy consumption intensity, yet offer products and services which play a major role in enabling carbon footprint reductions for customers and others. Companies responding to questionnaires totalled: In 2014 – 1,853 (Climate), 349 (Water) and 93 (Forests). In 2015 – 1,907 (Climate), 416 (Water) and 108 (Forests). In 2016 – 1,960 (Climate), 481 (Water) and 156 (Forests)

Accenture Strategy operates at the intersection of business and technology. We bring together our capabilities in business, technology, operations and function strategy to help our clients envision and execute industry-specific strategies that support enterprise wide transformation. Our focus on issues related to digital disruption, competitiveness, global operating models, talent and leadership help drive both efficiencies and growth. For more information, follow @AccentureStrat or visit www.accenture.com/strategy

CDP

We want to see a thriving economy that works for people and planet in the long term. To do this we focus investors, companies and cities on taking urgent action to build a truly sustainable economy by measuring and understanding their environmental impact. To achieve this, CDP, formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project, runs the global disclosure system that enables companies, cities, states and regions to measure and manage their environmental impacts. We have built the most comprehensive collection of self-reported environmental data in the world.

www.cdp.net

We are an asset manager with a difference. We believe that, while our primary purpose is helping beneficiaries retire better by providing world class active investment management and stewardship services, our role goes further. We believe we have a duty to deliver holistic returns – outcomes for our clients that go far beyond the financial and consider the impact our decisions have on society, the environment and the wider world.

Our goal is to help people invest better, retire better and create a better society for all.

We offer clients access to a broad range of specialist, high conviction investment teams with £30.1 billion* assets under management. In Hermes EOS, we have the industry’s leading engagement resource, advising on £310.7 billion* of assets.

Hermes' investment solutions include:

* Please note the total AUM figure includes £5.9bn of assets managed or under an advisory agreement by Hermes GPE LLP (“HGPE”), a joint venture between Hermes Fund Managers Limited ("HFM") and GPE Partner Limited. HGPE is an independent entity and not part of the Hermes group. £0.1bn of total group AUM figure represents HFM mandates under advice. Source: Hermes as at 30 June 2017 with the exception of one portfolio totalling £10.5m valued as at 31 May 2017.

www.hermes-investment.com

Environmental performance diagram

This definition of environmental performance is broad, because it captures not just the risks to businesses, but the opportunities arising from climate change and sustainability action as well.

Sources: Sustainability Accounting Standards Board Sustainability Accounting Standards Board: Technical Bulletin – Climate Risk, p.5. [link] and Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures. Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures: TCFD Recommendations Report, p.10. [link]

Johnson & Johnson

Johnson & Johnson started its Earthwards development process in 2009 to focus and challenge product teams to design “innovative and more sustainable solutions across a product’s lifecycle – from formulation and manufacturing, to product use and end-of-life”. The process targets sustainability improvements across seven impact areas and is assured annually by a third party. In 2015, 80 qualified products achieved $9bn in sales, and the company has a goal to achieve 20% of revenue from Earthwards products. Johnson & Johnson: Caring & Giving, Our Strategy & Approach. [link]

How do climate risks apply to companies, sectors or the whole economy?


Source: Sustainability Accounting Standards Board Sustainability Accounting Standards Board: Technical Bulletin – Climate Risk , p. 4–9 [link]

What are the main risks from climate change?

Source: Sustainability Accounting Standards Board Sustainability Accounting Standards Board: Technical Bulletin – Climate Risk , p. 4–9 [link]

In focus: setting an internal carbon price

In 2016, CDP found that over 1,200 of the world’s largest companies are disclosing their current carbon pricing approach, or their plans to start, and 147 are embedding a carbon price in strategies and operational approaches. Such a mechanism helps systematically achieve emissions reductions and related targets. CDP. Embedding a carbon price into business strategy. [link] These companies find that an internal carbon price provides an incentive or added reason to reallocate resources toward low-carbon activities; becomes a factor in the business case for R&D; and reveals hidden risks and opportunities in operations and supply chains. More insight is available in CDP’s 2016 research .

Learn More:
The Sustainability - Financial Performance Correlation in Focus

Recent meta-studies focus on making sense of the numerous peer-reviewed studies since the 1970s to understand whether there really is a positive relationship between environmental and financial performance, and what drives this link.

One exhaustive study, conducted in 2015 by researchers from the University of Hamburg and Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management, combined findings from 2,200 studies, and found that:

Another 2013 meta-study of 52 papers over 35 years found a positive relationship between environmental and financial performance, although this is influenced by environmental and financial performance measures used, regional differences, sector and duration of studies. Albertini, E. (2013), Does Environmental Management Improve Financial Performance? A Meta-Analytical Review, Organization & Environment 26:4, 431-457.

A 2017 study of FTSE 350 companies from 2006 to 2012 found that firms which incorporate sustainability issues into their business operations are better able to leverage their resources toward stronger financial performance and shareholder value creation than other companies. Gómez-Bezares, F., Przychodzen, W. & Przychodzen, J. (2017), Bridging the gap: How sustainable development can help companies create shareholder value and improve financial performance. Business Ethics: A Eur Rev, 26: 1–17.

The long-running academic debate continues, but on balance, a plurality of studies support similar correlations and the financial case for strong environmental performance.

Value in Environmental Performance: A Sector Example

One consumer products manufacturer we interviewed, regarded as a sustainability leader, regularly examines financial value of environmental performance in two ways: value generation (via sustainable products’ top line growth, consumer loyalty, cost savings and brand equity) and value at risk (via production risks from increasing water scarcity and lack of renewables, plus reputational risks from selling branded packaged products in regions with poor recycling infrastructure).

Source: Accenture Strategy interview with consumer goods executive, June 2017.

Revenue Case Study

One consumer goods firm interviewed estimates both short- and long-term commercial impact in terms of revenues, costs and brand value to understand how environmental action in its products contributes to P&L. In some cases, sustainability investments require a longer timeframe to pay back, but sponsors that look beyond the financial year “immediately seize on commercial impact in longer term brand and marketing strategies” when this is the case.

Source: Accenture Strategy interview with consumer goods executive, June 2017.

Assets & Intangibles Case Study

A consumer goods executive we interviewed explained that a “connection between sustainability action on products and financial return is not always linear”. On several occasions, brand managers recognised that even if sustainability improvements to products didn’t return immediate sales boosts, a much greater loss through tarnished brand value was at stake – and needed to be quantified.

Source: Accenture Strategy interview with consumer goods executive, June 2017.

Scoping The Opportunities & Risks

The Sustainability Accounting Standards Board recommends a basic identification process Sustainability Accounting Standards Board: Technical Bulletin – Climate Risk. [link] for defining relevant opportunities and risks in a sector context:

Prioritising Most Relevant Opportunities & Risks

From issues in scope, specific and relevant opportunities and risks can be identified in your unique operating context, by assessing commercial impact (positive or negative) and likelihood of occurrence.

Action 1b Consumer Goods diagram

Source: Accenture Strategy analysis.

Do investors care?
The corporate perspective

“The number of metrics available from an Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) perspective is enormous, and many don't really help investment decisions. Drilling down to what impacts really matter for the sector is crucial, along with providing an explanation of the company’s environmental performance, how it is being measured, and how it is changing over time.”

Fund Manager, Hermes Investment Management

All but one of the nine executives Accenture Strategy interviewed agreed that investor interest in the corporate approach to environmental challenges has ramped up in the last few years. Several reported joining investor roadshows to provide detailed interactions on sustainability, whilst others noted specific, deep questions now asked on climate change, product sustainability, and low-carbon or environmentally-responsible innovation in products and services. One interviewee summarises it well: “there has definitely been an evolution in the last few years – investors are being more demanding when it comes to sustainability performance – and this is going to increase in the future”.

Source: Accenture Strategy interviews with nine executives, May and June 2017.

About the Authors

Barny Harrison

Barny Harrison

Manager, Accenture Strategy – Sustainability, London
Barny has over a decade of cross-industry experience in sustainability analysis and modelling and a focus in the mining and food and beverage sectors. He also works on ecological research in Southeast Asia and is preparing a REDD+ application for an Indonesian forest reserve.
barnabas.harrison@accenture.com

Aaron Hay

Aaron Hay

Consultant, Accenture Strategy – Sustainability, London
Aaron has eight years of experience in sustainability strategy development, execution and financial valuation in corporate, government and NGO settings. Aaron tackles challenges in consumer goods, retail, and logistics sectors across Europe, the Middle East and North America. Aaron is an avid urban cyclist and a nearly-complete vegetarian to assist animals and his own carbon footprint.
aaron.m.hay@accenture.com

Bryan Loke

Bryan Loke

Analyst, Accenture Strategy – Sustainability, Singapore
Bryan has experience in GHG forecast modelling, carbon footprinting, and smart building energy management. He feels strongly about how we can best preserve our architectural heritage while still keeping pace with cities’ development agendas, and is fond of urban photography.
bryan.loke@accenture.com