An analysis of Circular Economy disclosures and the impact on Integrated Reporting

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The impact of global markets on the natural environment has resulted in a rapid depletion of resources. The circular economy (CE) model is a sustainable business model which aims to stay within the limits of the planet and reduce the impact on the environment by decreasing excessive resource use, minimizing waste, and converting end-of-life goods into resources for further use. This research aims to investigate disclosures by Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) listed companies by analysing the type of investments in developing and achieving a CE, the quality and nature of disclosures on a CE, and the related impact on the six capitals. A content analysis method was used to analyse a sample of integrated reports of JSE listed companies. Correlation coefficients were used to evaluate the relationships between the CE disclosures and 21 identified elements, and the Kruskal-Wallis and Jonckheere-Terpstra tests were used to evaluate the significant differences among industries, company size, and year when analysing the CE disclosures. This paper finds that a significant number of CE disclosures are located in the value creation and business model location of the integrated reports, the quality and type of investments to achieve a CE model tending to differ across different industries, company sizes, and year. The research revealed that CE disclosures are becoming more prominent in South Africa. The quality of reporting is moderately low. Industries which have a higher environmental impact and have extensive physical infrastructure tend to have better disclosure on their investments in the six capitals than service-driven industries. Both the quantity and quality of disclosures are better for larger companies. The research finds that companies are increasingly investing in research and development, and partnerships with research groups, think tanks and other third parties to drive their CE adoption. This paper contributes to both corporate reporting and the CE concept by evaluating the link between a CE model and integrated reporting and the impact which CE disclosures have on the six capitals of a company
A dissertation submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Commerce to the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, 2022
Circular economy (CE), Six capitals, Integrated reporting