Consider the need for a sustainability officer

Consider the need for a sustainability officer
© Michail Petrov, image #150656715, 2017, source:
Energy, Materials, Water, Waste, Carbon
All sectors
High cost
Annual saving:
10 - 30 %
Payback time:
2 - 3 Year(s)
Total cost savings:
Savings on hiring a sustainability officer depend on the types of activities and efficiency measures initiated and implemented by the company
Premises and operation areas:
Office management, Product and design, Production processes, Supply operations, Waste and recycling
Size of company:
Medium (less than 250)
Advancement in applying resource efficiency measures:
Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
What is in it for you:
Ensuring continuous development of environmental, health and safety performance. High-level representation of sustainability issues within management. Keep up with regulatory compliance.
Descriptive information:

A relatively new management role, sustainability officers are top executives who determine how a company or organisation can best address environmental sustainability issues. Specifically, they may be responsible for the creation, development and management of sustainability policies and programmes in line with both corporate objectives and environmental regulations.

The decision to integate a sustainability officer into the management structure warrants careful consideration, especially if the company is operating in a regulatory or market environment that demands it. While some large companies already have whole sustainability departments, others have only recently appointed a sustainability officer, and some don't think they need one at all.

Sustainability officers are often plucked from environmental, health and safety (EHS) compliance roles. Sometimes they are engineers from product development, especially where sustainable product innovation defines the company's sustainability strategy. In some cases, they come with communications experience and tackle sustainability from the point of view of managing the brand's reputation.

A recent Harvard Business School study (see sources) documents three stages of sustainability evolution in a company: compliance, efficiency, and innovation, and describes how the sustainability officer's role is different in each stage.


Regulators and investors are asking for it, customers are demanding it, and employees are expecting it. Once you reach a point where a customer says, ‘What are your policies in terms of your supply chain operations?’ you better have a good handle on that.” -  Forbes, 2014

Want to know if relevant support is offered in your country?