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UL 880: Sustainability for Manufacturing Organizations


In late 2009, UL Environment collaborated with GreenBiz Group, a leader in corporate sustainability media, corporate sustainability leadership and reporting, to develop UL 880: Sustainability for Manufacturing Organizations. We developed this Standard in response to the following convergence of issues:

  • The opportunities for business and organizations to increase the value of their operations by being seen as operating is a sustainable manner;
  • The difficult social conditions and environmental degradation facing the world, and the growing need for companies to manage these “externalities” directly;
  • The confusion about what it means to be a sustainable business;
  • The demand for standardized indicators across the spectrum of sustainability issues in recent years;
  • The need for well-established procedures for the independent auditing of sustainability practices, particularly in light of increasing calls for transparency and integrated financial and sustainability reporting.

In 2010, the UL Environment-GreenBiz team conducted research into appropriate requirements and secured more than 1,500 comments through a collaborative and open stakeholder process over the summer of 2010. In November 2010, the team convened a range of interested parties on a Stakeholder Advisory Panel to provide input to refine the requirements further. In January 2011, the team published the updated Standard and reopened the stakeholder process to open comments through May 2011. The resulting requirements distill the best thinking on organizational sustainability into a single standard that will help companies and their customers understand what it takes to become a more sustainable corporate citizen.

UL 880 Architecture

UL 880 defines core sustainability metrics for manufacturing businesses within the following five domains:

  • Governance for Sustainability: including sustainability strategic planning, board oversight, internal stakeholder engagement, ethics policies, and creating the infrastructure and fostering the behaviors that create a culture of sustainability
  • Environment: including product stewardship, sustainable resource use, environmental management systems, energy efficiency and carbon management, materials optimization, facilities and land use, habitat restoration, and waste prevention
  • Work Force: including professional development, workplace integrity, employee satisfaction and retention, workplace safety, and employee health and well-being
  • Customers and Suppliers: including fair marketing practices, product safety, customer support and complaint resolution, and sustainable supply chain management, monitoring and improvement
  • Community Engagement and Human Rights: including community impact assessment, community investment, and human rights issues 

Each domain includes prerequisites, core indicators, and leadership indicators.

  • Prerequisites: An Applicant must first meet all prerequisites to be considered for certification.
  • Core Indicators: An Applicant may receive certification by achieving points in at least each core indicator (though it need not achieve all available points in any individual core indicator).
  • Leadership: To receive certification and recognition at higher levels, an Applicant must earn additional points.
  • Innovation: Applicants are encouraged to submit their own achievements for recognition under the certification program. Such achievements shall be in any of the domains covered in these requirements and may be considered in time for inclusion in the standard as leadership indicators. These submissions shall be documented appropriately, and shall be subject to independent audit. For more information about possible areas of recognition.

The team also identifies indicators as one of the following four types:

  • Inventories and Baselines: The measurement and aggregation of data with a defined starting point and a methodology for continued collection and maintenance. 
  • Policy and Procedures: Operational processes and norms.
  • Performance: Measurable progress against goals set by the organization. For the purpose of this standard, conformance to performance indicators is based on demonstrated improvement against previously established goals, articulation of new goals going forward, and in future years, verification of performance against those new goals. Performance against future goals must be confirmed during recertification years. In this version of the standard, these indicators are designed to promote and measure internal continuous improvement. As such, they measure an Applicant’s performance against its own previous performance. Over time, as data becomes available to facilitate this, we intend to establish indicators that measure performance against external benchmarks such as national or international sustainability targets or industry peers.
  • Reporting: Information to stakeholders about particular actions taken and results achieved by the organization. 

Getting Involved

Given the complexity of the concept and constant innovations in the field of sustainability, UL fully anticipates updating this Standard every few years and expects to reengage stakeholders during any future open comment periods. At any time, stakeholders may submit a proposal request to UL on UL 880 through UL’s Collaborative Standards Development System (CSDS). Users who have forgotten their passwords or need to establish an account in the CSDS system may request one at