Increasingly, large corporates are coming under pressure to be more transparent about their long-term business sustainability in terms of environmental, social and governance responsibilities. Investors, consumers, staff and other stakeholders are wanting to know that the products they are investing in, buying, distributing and supporting are not the result of sweatshop labour or environmental damage. They are also wanting to know the products they are associated with are contributing to the social wellbeing of their community.
Corporates are responding to these demands as the United Nations and governments put international goals and legislation in place to try to address the changes and challenges that are impacting business and society in the 21st century. Closer to home, local events I’m involved in like the Mahurangi Winter Festival of Lights, Kowhai Festival and the Santa Parade are now required by Council to have a waste management plan that aims for zero waste. Yes, it adds to the cost, but in the greater scheme of things it is a small price to pay to do the right thing for the environment. After all, there’s only one planet.
There are lessons to be learnt here for smaller businesses. An understanding of sustainability and the implementation of good environmental practices, no matter how small, can help build trust with customers and clients, creating greater brand loyalty and contributing to business resilience. There are many simple things small businesses can do to improve their environmental performance, and cutting waste is a good place to start. Remember: reduce, reuse, recycle.
A good first step is checking what comes into your business. Look at your supply chain and the packaging your suppliers are using – can they reduce it, or will they take it back to reuse? Reusing is about keeping materials out of the waste stream by giving them another lease of life or reusing something over and over again instead of using it once and throwing it away. Does your business use refillable soap or reusable hand towels?
Adopting a three-bin system at work is another easy action. Have one each for landfill, recycling and paper, and make sure your staff use it.
It makes good business sense to help the planet and help your business.
Murray Chapman, Manager