With predictions that within 30 years, our oceans will contain more plastic than fish, the scale of our wasteful habits are at an all-time high.
When it comes to finger-pointing, the first port of call is often businesses. Indeed, the concept of sustainability entails the reduction of our impact on resources by producing and buying less. Something which can present a challenge for businesses looking to sell more products and services.
Yet many businesses have now invested in becoming more sustainable, which is not only good for the planet and their reputation but also, for their bottom lines.
In fact, consumers have a lot to learn from the activities of businesses adopting more sustainable practices. Let’s have a look at some of the most successful sustainability initiatives that businesses have implemented:
1. Supply chain going circular
To increase profitability and efficiency, most businesses have long realised the necessity of reducing their environmental impact. Reducing waste has become a priority for most companies as disposal costs rise and tighter legislations come into effect.
The automotive industry in particular is driving sustainable initiatives by rethinking their business models and embracing the concept of circular economy. This allows businesses to keep their resources in a perpetual cycle, resulting in less waste.
In doing so, Toyota, BMW and General Motors, among other brands, have shifted from waste management to waste prevention. One advantage of this sustainable approach is that companies can better anticipate raw materials shortages and prevent costly waste output.
2. Taking the lid off
Other companies opt to strip their products from unnecessary packaging while bringing production costs down.
This is the case of fast food giant McDonald’s. The brand has bolstered its effort to become more sustainable by driving down its plastic usage.
One of the most telling examples is McDonald’s pledge to remove the McFlurry’ signature plastic lids and plastic spoons from its European outlets by the end of 2020. According to the brand, “the removal of McFlurry lids will save 1,200 tonnes of plastic each year”.
Guinness has adopted a similar approach by announcing that the plastic ring carriers and shrink wrap will be removed from packs of Harp, Rockshore and Smithwick’s beers.
3. Caring is Loving
Other businesses have made the bold move to encourage their customers to simply buy less. This is the case of outdoor clothing brand Patagonia which allows its customers to re-sell unwanted clothes or provide free repairs for damaged gear. This brand is particularly known for its commitment to sustainability and throughout the years it became part of its ethos and culture.
Another leading business in this field is Volvo which placed the principle of omtanke at the heart of its culture. Omtanke in Swedish means “caring” or “thinking twice”.
This omtanke culture means that Volvo has committed to bold initiatives such as selling one million electric vehicles and committing to climate-neutral operations by 2025.
4. Spending smarter
One of the main ways that businesses can make a difference is by selecting suppliers that are committed to delivering sustainable products and services. Coupa, a leader in business spend management (BSM), is helping companies to do this easily at scale by enabling buyers to add a sustainability filter when selecting and vetting suppliers. The filter uses third party data provided by EcoVadis, a global provider of business sustainability ratings.
Businesses around the world are using this data to make sustainability-focused procurement decisions. As more businesses use Coupa to manage their spending, the collective buying power of the Coupa community of spenders grows. If this community of spenders then exercises its power to prioritise suppliers that embrace sustainable practices, then sustainable suppliers will thrive.
By placing sustainability at the heart of their strategy and procurement processes, business leaders can demonstrate how a commitment to resource efficiency is not only good for the environment, but also good for business.
Mounting public concern and environmental activism alongside purpose-driven corporate leadership will undoubtedly mean that the collective influence and buying power of businesses is ever more focused on the critical issue of sustainability.