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Triple Bottom Line Definition: What Does TBL Mean?

What Is the Triple Backside Line (TBL)?

In economics, the triple backside line (TBL) maintains that firms ought to decide to focusing as a lot on social and environmental issues as they do on income. TBL concept posits that as a substitute of 1 backside line, there needs to be three: revenue, individuals, and the planet. A TBL seeks to gauge a company’s degree of dedication to corporate social responsibility and its affect on the surroundings over time.

In 1994, John Elkington—the famed British administration advisor and sustainability guru—coined the phrase “triple backside line” as his method of measuring efficiency in company America. The thought was that an organization could be managed in a method that not solely makes cash however which additionally improves individuals’s lives and the well-being of the planet.

Key Takeaways

  • The idea behind the triple backside line is that firms ought to focus as a lot on social and environmental points as they do on income.
  • The TBL consists of three components: revenue, individuals, and the planet.
  • The triple backside line goals to measure the monetary, social, and environmental efficiency of an organization over time.
  • TBL concept holds that if a agency appears at income solely, ignoring individuals and the planet, it can’t account for the complete value of doing enterprise.

Understanding the Triple Backside Line

In finance, when talking of an organization’s bottom line, we normally imply its income. Elkington’s TBL framework advances the purpose of sustainability in enterprise practices, during which firms look past income to incorporate social and environmental points to measure the full value of doing enterprise. Triple-bottom-line concept says that firms ought to focus as a lot consideration on social and environmental points as they do on monetary points.

TBL concept additionally says that if an organization focuses on funds solely and doesn’t look at the way it interacts socially, it isn’t in a position to see the entire image and subsequently can’t account for the complete value of doing enterprise.

In line with TBL concept, firms needs to be working concurrently on these three backside strains:

  • Revenue: That is the normal measure of company revenue—the profit and loss (P&L) account.
  • Folks: This measures how socially accountable a company has been all through its historical past.
  • Planet: This measures how environmentally accountable a agency has been.

Earnings do matter within the triple backside line—simply not on the expense of social and environmental issues.

Challenges of Making use of the Triple Backside Line

The next are challenges that firms can face when making use of the triple backside line.

Measuring the TBL

A key problem of the TBL, based on Elkington, is the issue of measuring the social and environmental backside strains. Profitability is inherently quantitative, so it’s simple to measure. What constitutes social and environmental duty, nonetheless, is considerably subjective. How do you set a greenback worth on an oil spill—or on stopping one—for instance?

Mixing Inverse Parts

It may be troublesome to modify gears between priorities which might be seemingly antithetical—reminiscent of maximizing particular person monetary returns whereas additionally doing the best good for society. Some firms may wrestle to steadiness deploying cash and different sources, reminiscent of human capital, to all three backside strains with out favoring one on the expense of one other.

Ignoring the TBL framework

There could be dire repercussions when firms ignore the TBL within the title of income. Three well-known examples of this are:

  • Destruction of the rainforest
  • Exploitation of labor
  • Harm to the ozone layer

Take into account a clothes producer whose finest solution to maximize income is likely to be to rent the least costly labor attainable and to dispose of producing waste within the most cost-effective method attainable. These practices may properly outcome within the best attainable income for the corporate, however on the expense of depressing working and dwelling situations for laborers, and hurt to the pure surroundings and the individuals who dwell in that surroundings.

Examples of Firms That Subscribe to TBL or Comparable Ideas

In the present day, the company world is extra acutely aware than ever of its social and environmental duty. Firms are increasingly adopting or ramping up their social packages. Customers need firms to be clear about their practices and to be thoughtful of all stakeholders. Many shoppers are keen to pay extra for clothes and different merchandise if it implies that staff are paid a dwelling wage and the surroundings is being revered within the manufacturing course of.

The variety of companies—of all kinds and sizes, each publicly and privately held—that subscribe to the triple-bottom-line idea, or one thing related, is staggering. Listed below are a handful of those firms:

Ben & Jerry’s

Ben & Jerry’s is the ice cream firm that made acutely aware capitalism central to its technique. As said on its web site, “Ben & Jerry’s is based on and devoted to a sustainable company idea of linked prosperity.” The corporate opposes the usage of recombinant bovine progress hormone (rBGH) and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and fosters myriad values reminiscent of truthful commerce and local weather justice.


The LEGO Group (privately held; Billund, Denmark) has shaped partnerships with organizations just like the nongovernmental organization (NGO) World Wildlife Fund. As well as, LEGO has made a dedication to decreasing its carbon footprint and is working in direction of 100% renewable power capability by 2030.

Along with partnering with the World Wildlife Fund, the LEGO Group has additionally pledged to transition to renewable bioplastics. The primary plant-derived set of LEGO toys was launched in 2019.


Mars Included (privately held; Mc Lean, Va.) has a sustainable cocoa initiative known as Cocoa for Generations. It requires cocoa farmers to be truthful commerce licensed to make sure they comply with a code of truthful remedy to staff offering labor. In alternate for certification, Mars offers productiveness expertise and buys cocoa at premium costs.


Starbucks Company (SBUX), has been socially and environmentally centered since its inception in 1971. The corporate has employed greater than 26,000 veterans since 2013 and is dedicated to hiring 5,000 extra per 12 months going ahead.

What Are the Three Parts of the Triple Backside Line (TBL)?

The triple backside line is an accounting framework that comes with three dimensions of efficiency: social, environmental, and monetary. These three sides could be summarized as “individuals, planet, and revenue.”

How Is TBL Completely different From the Monetary Backside Line?

Together with social, human, and environmental capital together with an organization’s monetary capital makes it attainable to get a extra correct image of an organization’s affect on society.

Who Got here Up With the Triple Backside Line?

The triple backside line was conceived by entrepreneur and enterprise author John Elkington in 1994 whereas on the suppose tank SustainAbility, and was later included into the oil firm Shell’s first sustainability report in 1997.

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