Conversations about recycling tend to revolve around domestic recycling issues – rinsing out tin cans for mid-week collections, but business has an incredibly important role to play in creating a sustainable future. Thankfully many companies embrace their environmental responsibilities, and there are a number of good reasons for doing so – ethically and financially.
Sustainable business practices have recently been adopted by corporations as a work ethic as integral to their business plan and profitability. A sustainable business not only benefits the environment but can also position itself as a responsible business – something which is increasingly important in buying decisions.
Big names embracing an environmentally friendly approach
It may be difficult to envisage how huge corporations can incorporate sustainability into a global business, but it is being done.
45 Procter & Gamble (P&G) factories have achieved “zero waste” status, meaning that these factories contribute nothing at all to landfill sites. The rest of P&G factories aren’t far behind, as 99% of all materials that leave the factory come out as finished products or are reused, recycled or converted.
The company’s Global Asset Recovery Purchases team is responsible for helping those 45 factories eliminate the 1% of waste by examining ways to repurpose materials that would otherwise go to landfill. Charmin factory waste fibres being turned into low cost roof tiles is a great example of this.
P&G have demonstrated that going green goes beyond separating plastics from paper and that there really isn’t a limit to what a business can achieve via sustainable operations. However aside from making a name for themselves in the sustainable business sector, what do businesses have to gain from going the extra mile to attain environmentally friendly credentials?
Reaping the rewards of responsibility
Of course the warm glow of an ecological business approach is not something that just any corporation can brag about, but there are more rewards to be had than the karmic retribution of a good deed.
Incorporating sustainable approaches can give the company a diverse niche which can make it more secure in a market where environmentally friendly practices are of ever-increasing importance. London based business brokers Avondale mark this strategic plan for future growth as an integral part of increasing the value of a business in the long-term.
A more short term bonus of sustainability is that recycling has the potential to generate more revenue streams. P&G, for example, made additional revenue by converting waste from rejected female sanitary products into combustible fuel and selling it.
These benefits aren’t just available to massive global corporations either. Zero Waste Scotland, ran by Ian Gulland, is a scheme in operation to help Scotland to reach their zero waste objectives. The aims of Zero Waste Scotland include simple measures such as minimising food wastage which could save retail, wholesale and motor sectors up to £30 million each year.
Sustainability needn’t be strenuous
Although these sustainable measures are on a larger scale, it doesn’t mean that small to medium-sized enterprises can’t instil similar practices to benefit their business as well as the environment.
Energy usage is one of the biggest overheads for SMEs, and saving money through sustainability could be as simple as powering down machines when not in use, switching to energy efficient light bulbs and fitting double glazing. Changing to a different mindset to concentrate more on energy efficiency has the potential to save energy equivalent to the output of 22 power stations by 2020, according to Ed Davey, Britain’s energy secretary.
Allen Creedy, the chairman of environment, water and energy for the Federation of Small Businesses predicts that making a small business more energy efficient will become easier in years to come. One way of how this can be achieved is the introduction of smart meters from 2015, which will allow business owners to effectively track and consequently understand their energy consumption. The idea being that they can spot areas for improvement.
These rollouts are just the tip of the iceberg in energy efficiency, but sustainability it is becoming an integral part of many businesses. A recent report commissioned by the government’s climate advisers estimates that the money saved by efficient practices could be worth billions of pounds within the next 15 years, so we can expect to see these benefits reflected in businesses as awareness of sustainability grows.
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