A group of companies including retailers Ahold and Marks & Spencer has published a new handbook designed as a tool for sustainability professionals.

The 'Handbook for Product Social Impact Assessment' from the Roundtable for Product Social Metrics is described as offering “innovative methodology” to assess a product’s social impacts throughout its life cycle, and is the result of collaboration between a number of companies across sectors, and led by consulting firm Pré Sustainability.

“Stakeholders increasingly demand transparency about the social impacts of products,” said João Fontes of Pré Sustainability, spokesperson for the Roundtable.

The new publication is designed to give businesses a practical, reliable way to systematically analyse risks and identify improvement opportunities.

“Research on consumer preferences, like The Nielsen Global Survey on Corporate Social Responsibility, shows that half of the world’s consumers are prepared to pay a premium if products have an ecological or social benefit,” said Jacobine Das Gupta, Corporate Sustainability Manager for DSM, another of the companies involved in the project.