29th August 2019
Sustainable business no longer optional
Sustainability: the latest buzz word. From fair trade sourcing to single-use plastics, the environmental, economic and health impacts of retail products are under growing scrutiny. When it comes to what they put into and onto their bodies, consumers are increasingly demanding greater responsibility and transparency from both businesses and governments. People, planet and profit are hot on the agenda as impacts from climate change, overstretched natural resources and the swelling global population are reaching untenable limits. These hot topics are becoming immovable front-page news with the need for decisive action becoming ever more immediate and absolute.
With influence from corporate giants like Paul Polman, former Unilever chief executive, calling for businesses to champion the UN Sustainable Development Goals, through to 15-year-old Greta Thunberg organising the global school strike for climate, momentum is reaching all corners of the globe at a rate hereto unseen. As Polman has said, “it is time to move from ‘CSR’ – corporate social responsibility – to ‘RSC’ – responsible, social corporations. Frankly, the citizens of this world are demanding this. ‘Less bad’, which is still the CSR camp, is simply not good enough anymore.”
Businesses big and small are responding to this consumer demand for greater sustainability, examining their supply chains, production, facilities and policies to create effective, impactful solutions to satisfy all stakeholders. Plastics are being reimagined, alternative energies are being deployed, chemical and synthetic ingredients are being pushed aside for fair trade, natural and organic options to take the lead.
From clean labelling to improved waste management, businesses are increasingly incorporating sustainability into their strategies. The United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, set in 2015 and adopted by country leaders around the world, sets out 17 Sustainable Development Goals as a call for action by all stakeholders to ‘promote prosperity while protecting the planet’. The Resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly states: “We are determined to take the bold and transformative steps which are urgently needed to shift the world on to a sustainable and resilient path. As we embark on this collective journey, we pledge that no one will be left behind.”
Many businesses have responded to this call for action by setting their own sustainability agendas and pushing forward with progressive and innovative change to the status quo. However, there are many still dragging their feet. An eight-year review of corporate sustainability conducted by MIT Sloan Management Review and The Boston Consulting Group demonstrated that whereas 90% of executives find sustainability to be important, only 25% of businesses have sustainability built into their business model. “Only a handful of standout companies are demonstrating that sustainability can be a driver of innovation, efficiency, and lasting business value.”
At bio-bean, sustainability is at the heart of everything we do. We’re about creating a real difference for our world by sustainably innovating through coffee waste. And we believe behaviour change, particularly throughout industry, is the absolute central tenement to sustainability and to seeking to reverse, or at least slow down, the past damaging effects of our global economy.
In other words, good business and sustainability can no longer be considered mutually exclusive. They are one in the same: positive sustainable action just makes good business sense.