April 2021 Newsletter

In this month's newsletter:

  • Taking Stock of Natural Capital Accounting Practices in the UK – Our Briefing in Partnership with COWI
  • Amenity Value Benefits of Deposit Return Scheme for Drinks Containers - Our work with Defra

Taking Stock of Natural Capital Accounting Practices in the UK – Our Briefing in Partnership with COWI

A beautiful spring scene of the Lake District fells and fields


We are delighted to have had the opportunity to take stock of our experience with natural capital accounting in the UK over the last five or so years. The briefing note we prepared for COWI is now available to all and can be accessed on our website.

The briefing summarises the key lessons we have learnt from the development of the Corporate Natural Capital Accounting framework (2015) and the Natural Capital Protocol (2016), to over 60 accounts we have completed since then and our involvement in the upcoming British Standards Institution’s standard on the approach. The completed accounts range from national and sub-national accounts for the public sector and organizational accounts for businesses in water, agriculture, forestry, energy, finance, transport, and chemicals sectors.

Key takeaways

The briefing identifies the influence of public policies and institutions (such as ONS, Defra, and HM Treasury) in incentivising, adopting, and promoting natural capital accounting and the leadership of individual champions and trusted sector advisers in ensuring accounts are integrated into the wider decision-making of their clients. So far, accounts have been used to make business cases for public and charitable sector funding and to unveil the importance of natural capital assets for the financial sustainability of businesses.

Looking to the future, our briefing encourages readers to familiarise themselves with the upcoming BSI Standard on Natural Capital Accounting for Organisations when it is released in May 2021 – followed by a launch webinar on 15th June at 2-3:30 pm (Hold the date for now, links will follow). In the longer term, we anticipate a closer integration of natural capital and financial accounting, the development of auditing or second opinion services, and the use of natural capital accounting as a monitoring and evaluation tool for green finance.

To view and download the briefing, click here.

Image: Rob Fraser | somewhere-nowhere.com

Amenity Value Benefits of a Deposit Return Scheme for Drinks Containers - Defra

on the right: a lake shore with plastic bottles and litter, on the left: the same lakeshore with no litter


How much more would you be willing to pay for the site on the right than the one on the left?

We conducted an in-depth study on the benefits of reducing litter – in particular drinks containers. We used the stated preference method to design a survey through which individuals can trade off different ways of reducing litter and costs of doing so.

The (mean) value for an 85% reduction was around £5 per household per month. For context, this is around 0.2% of median household income in England. This assessment of benefit can then be compared to the cost of a Deposit Return Scheme.

As part of the study, we worked with a stakeholder research specialist to conduct interviews and test the survey material before piloting and then rolling out to the full sample online. The material included information and visuals displaying the type and amount of litter in different locations such as streets and parks, and several scenarios of litter removal out of which respondents chose their preferred one. Each scenario had a cost associated with it paid through the council tax which is used to infer the willingness to pay of respondents from different socio-economic groups across the UK.

Click this link to download the report.