When talking about sustainability, there are some brands who are way ahead of the game. Others, however, have fallen behind. Brands that embrace a more sustainable approach have a lot to gain; it helps the brand appeal to a wider audience and save money in the long run. But in order to achieve a more sustainable outlook, brands must be prepared to move away from traditional operations and adopt new methods.
Businesses and brands can take steps towards becoming more sustainable by reviewing their current processes. Doing so allows the business to make changes, flagging areas for improvement and replacing old equipment with newer, more eco-friendly apparatus.
Although this basic approach has proven successful, it doesn’t help brands achieve their full sustainability potential. Serious long-term changes need to be implemented. For example, telling your employees to put their waste in separate bins for different materials is a step in the right direction, but it won’t be enough. Employees should be encouraged to adopt a sustainable mindset and realise its value for both the company and the environment as a whole.
We should also change the way that we view our waste; rather than thinking of waste as a disposable item that needs to be collected, waste should be seen as something more valuable. That isn’t to say that the waste will be of any direct value to the company, however it is still a resource that has the potential for re-use. Of course, the challenge with this is getting the message across – not only to members of your company, but to the wider industry.
If you’re hoping to encourage others to become more sustainable, it’s important to note that people won’t be as difficult to persuade as you may initially assume. After all, it’s in our nature to want to do the right thing and most people are already aware of the environmental issues affecting the planet. Additionally, many people have already accepted that improving the environment will require a group effort.
Another challenge that we need to consider is long-term versus short term improvement. Usually, short-term goals tend to conflict with long-term ones as the results are more immediate and easier to achieve in a short time frame. Achieving short-term goals also allows you to gain quick feedback on whether the actions were successful. Long-term goals are harder to stick to and require monitoring, measuring and some form of reward along the way in order to help maintain enthusiasm for the end goal.
These actions need to be a company-wide effort. The presence of silo workers (groups within a company who lack the will to share information with others in the same company) can obstruct progress. Furthermore, they encourage the shifted responsibility motive – for example, one team ignoring their own duties and leaving responsibility with another. For the process to work, everyone has to be on board with implementing the changes. If these attitudes are changed, it will help to encourage a consistent focus on sustainability among employees.
One the best ways to start this process is via procurement. We will now take look at a company’s waste process, from small steps such as regular bin collections or the need to hire a skip, to larger waste disposal methods.
When looking at the company’s old waste management process, it’s important to look for solutions that will save the company money whilst simultaneously achieving growth. You could place more of a focus on price per lift and how frequently third-party waste collections occur. Even this will not help a company achieve long-term sustainability goals, however; even if the service is well-documented, it is still the same old process, just better recorded! Instead, it’s easier to achieve success if we ditch the old process and accept that although it worked well for the company in the past, it no longer supports sustainability and future goals.
New processes need to be developed with the new goals for sustainability in mind. Doing so will ensure that you will have a newer, more flexible process which is better suited to the current goals of the company. This comes down to working smarter, not harder.
It’s also important to note that transparency is key when strengthening a company’s sustainability process. A published statement, declared timescales, and defined targets are far more convincing that a sweeping statement of commitment to the cause. It’s also good to remember that goals are not threats. Businesses should work together on achieving these goals and share knowledge on sustainable processes.
Lastly, if there are any goals that you fail to achieve, you need to be open and honest as to why this is, so that you can figure out the issue. Doing so will allow you to shine a light on the problem and hopefully encourage improvement. After all, taking steps towards improvement and innovation is a positive for any business.