Impact Rankings 2022: responsible consumption and production (SDG 12) methodology

April 18, 2022

This ranking focuses on the efficient use of resources and minimising waste. Universities must play their part in ensuring that their consumption is minimised, especially where resources are not renewable.

View the methodology for the Impact Rankings 2022 to find out how these data are used in the overall ranking.


Research on responsible consumption and production (27%)

  • Proportion of papers in the top 10% of journals as defined by CiteScore (10%)
  • Field-weighted citation index of papers produced by the university (10%)
  • Number of publications (7%)

This focuses on research that is relevant to responsible consumption and production. The field-weighted citation index is a subject-normalised score of the citation performance of publications.

The data are provided by Elsevier’s Scopus dataset, based on a query of keywords associated with SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production) and supplemented by additional publications identified by artificial intelligence. The dataset includes all indexed publications between 2016 and 2020. The data are normalised across the range using Z-scoring.

Operational measures (26.7%)

  • Policy on ethical sourcing of food and supplies (4.8%)
  • Policy on the appropriate disposal of hazardous waste (4.8%)
  • Policy to measure amount of waste sent to landfill and amount recycled (4.8%)
  • Policy on minimising the use of plastic (4.8%)
  • Policy on minimising the use of disposable items (4.8%)
  • Evidence that these policies also apply to outsourced services (1.35%)
  • Evidence that these policies also apply to outsourced suppliers (1.35%)

The evidence was provided directly by universities, evaluated and scored by Times Higher Education and not normalised.

Proportion of recycled waste (27%)

  • Measure the amount of waste generated and recycled (13.5%)
  • Proportion of waste recycled (13.5%)

It is vital that universities maximise recycling and minimise waste sent to landfill.

The first indicator gives higher scores if the amount of waste generated and recycled is measured across the whole university. If universities do not measure this across the university they cannot score for the second indicator. The second indicator is normalised and based on data on the amount of waste created in the university and the amount recycled and sent to landfill. 

The data and evidence for these indicators were provided directly by universities.

Publication of a sustainability report (19.3%)

We asked whether the institution published a university sustainability report between 2018 and 2020 and whether this was a stand-alone document or part of a larger annual report. Publication of a sustainability report is a direct requirement of SDG 12 by the United Nations.

The evidence was provided directly by universities, evaluated and scored by THE and not normalised.


When we ask about policies and initiatives, our metrics require universities to provide the evidence to support their claims. Evidence is evaluated against a set of criteria and decisions are cross-validated where there is uncertainty. Evidence is not required to be exhaustive – we are looking for examples that demonstrate best practice at the institutions concerned.

Time frame

In general, the data used refer to the closest academic year to January to December 2020. However, in some cases, data relate to 2019 due to the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The date range for each metric is specified in the full methodology document. 


Universities must teach undergraduates and be validated by a recognised accreditation body to be included in the ranking.

Data collection

Institutions provide and sign off their institutional data for use in the rankings. On the rare occasions when a particular data point is not provided, we enter a value of zero.

View the full methodology for the THE Impact Rankings 2022 here

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