Impact Rankings 2023: responsible consumption and production (SDG 12) methodology

May 25, 2023

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 2023 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 per cent 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 data include all indexed publications between 2017 and 2021. The data are normalised across the range using Z-scoring.

Operational measures (26.7%)

  • Policy on ethical sourcing of goods (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 plastics (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 THE and not normalised.

Proportion of recycled waste (27%)

  • Measure the amount of waste generated and recycled across the university (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 were provided directly by universities and normalised across the range using Z-scoring.

Publication of a sustainability report (19.3%)

We asked whether the institution published a university sustainability report between 2019 and 2021 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 – for example, the existence of mentoring programmes – our metrics require universities to provide the evidence to support their claims. In these cases, we give credit for the evidence, and for the evidence being public. These metrics are not usually size normalised.

Evidence is evaluated against a set of criteria, and decisions are cross-validated where there is uncertainty. Evidence need not 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 2021. The date range for each metric is specified in the full methodology document.


The ranking is open to any university that teaches at either undergraduate or postgraduate level. Although research activities form part of the method­ology, there is no minimum research requirement for participation.

THE reserves the right to exclude universities that it believes have falsified data, or are no longer in good standing.

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 2023 here.

The THE Impact Rankings 2023 will be published at 11:30am BST on 1 June.

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