The Green Industrial Revolution is underway. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson launched a 10-point plan in January encouraging businesses to adopt sustainable practices to spur economic growth and “make the country cleaner greener and more beautiful.”
More businesses are finding it is getting easier to be green, especially since efforts to be sustainable are paying off with greater profits and fewer risks. The Harvard Business Review shared one study that found the top 100 sustainable global companies also have significantly higher sales, profits and cash flow.
The publication includes examples of how protecting the planet can also protect a company’s bottom line:
- Dow invested billions in resource efficiency by reducing energy and wastewater use—and reaped a nearly five-fold ROI.
- Walmart increased fleet efficiency, reducing 15,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions and saving nearly €10 million annually.
- Nike created a Flyknit line that reduced waste by 80%, and by using recycled polyester, it is keeping 182 million bottles from landfills each year.
A survey by U.K.-based CDP of 4,005 global suppliers found 72% of participants said climate change presents risks that impact operations and profits. But only half integrated sustainability issues into their business strategy.
Dismissing climate and social issues in your business strategy is a big mistake. Consumers want to purchase products that are good for the environment and society. Plus, sustainable companies have higher employee morale, loyalty and productivity.
How do you get started? Companies should consider the 5 R’s to start: Reuse, Reduce, Repurpose, Recycle and Refuse.
Move away from plastic, one-use items. Reuse cardboard boxes, containers and ink cartridges. Focus on one area at a time. Start with your breakroom first!
Use less. Don’t use as many non-recyclable items. Could you print double-sided? Better yet, does it need to be copied?
Think of alternative ways to use something. Use messed up printer paper as scratch paper. Turn containers into storage bins. Encourage a culture of creativity.
Recycle cans, plastics, and cardboard. Make sure recycling bins are available for employees.
Refuse products with unnecessary packaging. Refuse wasteful and non-recyclable products.
Companies can take these steps and ask their suppliers to do the same for one more R: Rewards. Here are some additional benefits by having everyone on your supply chain going green:
- Building a positive reputation opens doors to partnerships and other organizations with similar values.
- Having standardized sustainability strategies makes it easier to ask all partners to adhere to the same standards.
- Leaders are more accountable for the safety and health of their employees.
- Losses are avoided by identifying risks with current and future projects.
It’s crucial to continually design practices that reflect environmental and social responsibility. Risk management software tools can help you keep track of these strategies for your own company and your suppliers. It is no longer enough to operate within traditional realms—organizations must look ahead and find more ways to be good corporate citizens.
Michael Ford is the Global Expert on EHS and Sustainability for Avetta, a global supplier of online supply chain risk management.