Consumers have been at the forefront of sustainability initiatives for years. While many people are doing their best to increase their environmental impact, recently the focus has shifted to businesses as well.
It’s hard for consumers to correct negative environmental trends when the companies they patronize drive up carbon emissions before their products and services reach their customers.
Here are three key ways companies can reduce their environmental impact while improving their own operational efficiency.
1. Align stakeholders
If one person recycles, that’s a nice statement, but actually it doesn’t yield much. However, if everyone recycles, you can start to see results.
The same goes for companies. If a single company in an industry or part of a supply chain makes an effort, it can be inspiring, but it won’t pay much. If everyone aligns their interests in favor of sustainable business, it can have a real ripple effect.
Writing about sustainability in the food industry, Nicole Atchison, CEO of PURIS Holdings, a vegetable protein food manufacturerstates: “Food and agriculture contributed $1.1 trillion to the US gross domestic product in 2019, a share of 5.2%. This system can be a good resource if all stakeholders are aligned and show that a change is necessary, possible and profitable.”
When companies join forces, real change can happen.
2. Embrace paperless business
Going paperless has been a growing movement among consumers and businesses alike for years – and for good reason.
Corp! Magazine points out that, while the paper itself is not too expensive, “the hidden costs of managing paper can be up to 31 times the cost of paper.” The publication adds that US companies waste as much as $8 billion annually on paper management alone (pre-pandemic). Record Nations also reports that US paper consumption increased by 126% (to 208 million tons) over the past 20 years.
The distant revolution that emerged from the pandemic has helped reduce some of the reliance on physical paper. Nevertheless, as many leaders are pushing for in-person operations again, it is important to continue to prioritize going paperless. The effort can prevent waste and even has hidden benefits for companies.
3. Enable remote working
In the same vein as going paperless, digitizing all business operations has a net positive impact on the environment. In late 2021, https://cafe-madrid.com/ contributor Adi Gaskell highlighted multiple reports of how the pandemic’s “Petri dish” reinforced this fact.
A study found that working remotely for four days of the work week could reduce nitrogen dioxide emissions from traffic by 10%.
Working remotely has its own costs, and digital activity creates its own emissions. But Gaskell addresses this: “While the consumption of digital resources, such as video conferencing, burns a significant amount of energy in data centers, the researchers argue that the net impact is still positive, with Zoom calls only 0.6% of the carbon emissions emissions generated on a typical commute.”
Responsibility for sustainability is no longer a consumer issue. Companies are held accountable for their activities. And those who can’t demonstrate that they’re trying to reduce their environmental impact will be left behind.
So consider cost-effective, effective solutions, such as enabling paperless and remote working. Also align your sustainability initiatives with others in your industry and supply chains. Do what you can to reduce your environmental impact to position your business for sustainable success in an environmentally conscious future.