Indicators of sustainable production

  • Damjan Krajnc
  • Peter Glavič
Original Paper


The main cause of environmental damage is unsustainable production and consumption, especially in industrialized countries. Achieving sustainable development will require changes in industrial processes, in the type and quantity of resources used, in the treatment of waste, in the control of emissions, and in the products produced. One of the difficulties in measuring the company's level of sustainability is to determine which directions of change are leading towards sustainability. Hence, it is necessary to apply appropriate metrics that will enable these assessments. This paper presents indicators for assessing and promoting business sustainability—indicators of sustainable production. It first introduces the main concepts of such production and a set of necessary conditions that firms must fulfill in order to be sustainable. It identifies major functions of indicators and it proceeds to presenting the role of indicators.

The paper focuses on sustainable production, proposing indicators of sustainable production, which could be used as strategic metrics for assessing the sustainability level of a company and for identifying more sustainable options for the future. They enable a large amount of information to be compressed into a format easier to manipulate, compare and understand. The proposed indicators focus on the environmental aspect of sustainable production. However, to achieve sustainable production, a company should incorporate social and economic indicators as well. Most of the indicators included can be applied across industry. However, they are not aimed at being uniformly applicable to all sectors. According to the flows in the manufacture they are divided into input and output indicators and they are based on commonly measured environmental aspects of sustainable production (energy use, materials use, water consumption, products, wastes, and air emissions) covering key global issues. The paper represents a new approach to the systematization of indicators and their symbols and units.


Sustainable Production Sustainability Assessment Indicator Objective Global Reporting Initiative Fuzzy Rule Base 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

List of symbols


Unit of production (e.g. mass in t or kg, volume in m3, number, monetary value in EUR, etc.)


Production output


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical EngineeringUniversity of MariborMariborSlovenia

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