5 Practical Ways to Implement Sustainable Practices in Business
Daria Gavrilova, Instructor of Research, Communication, and Media, reviews the current landscape of sustainability in the business world.
While the idea “We need to go green!” might be clear enough, the question that is likely to interest entrepreneurs and managers is how to implement sustainable solutions in practice.
1. Think Long-Term
Sustainable business means focusing not only on short-term profits but paying equal attention to long-term thinking and planning. A decision that might save money now may lead to substantial loss both in profit and competitive advantage five years down the road, when, for example, a government introduces new restrictions that the production simply does not meet.
An example of such can be the Italian steel production plant, ILVA. A case study describes how ILVA relied on the slow and reluctant attitude of local courts and kept using outdated polluting technology, despite Italy being subject to EU regulations on emissions and pollution. As a result, in 2012 ILVA was ordered to immediately shut down, accused of “creating an unprecedented environmental disaster”.
2. Be Systematic
Companies that are successful in the implementation of sustainable practices and yield financial and ecological benefits, think of the business process as a whole. Regardless of whether you are launching a start-up or trying to bring an existing company up-to-date, successful sustainability decisions need to be integrated into the very model of your business, not treated as an optional “extra.”
3. Create Value From Waste
To help reduce waste, businesses can also design for recycling. That means thinking about how to recycle and reuse a product at the very stage of creating it in the first place.
4. Deliver Functionality Rather than Ownership
Secondly, it gives the manufacturer more control over through-life and end-of-life issues, making it easier to recycle the materials and close the loop.
5. Talk and Learn
Atasu, A., Dumas, C. and Van Wassenhove, L. N. (2021) The Circular Business Model. Pick a strategy that fits your resources and capabilities. Harvard Business Review. Accessed August 15, 2021 at https://hbr.org
Bocken, N. M. P., Short, S. W., Rana, P. & Evans, S. (2014). A literature and practice review to develop sustainable business model archetypes, Journal of Cleaner Production, 65(0), 42″“56. doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2013.11.039.
European Commission (2001). Business, environment and wine: from the winegrape to the bottle. Vertical integration of the environment in the wine production process and horizontal optimization of resources. Accessed August 20, 2021 at https://webgate.ec.europa.eu
Geissdoerfer, M. (2019) SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS MODEL INNOVATION. Sustainable Business Model.org. Accessed August 10, 2021 at https://sustainablebusinessmodel.org
Milton, F. (1970). A Friedman Doctrine: The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase Its Profits. The New York Times Magazine. Accessed August 20, 2021 at https://www.nytimes.com
Tonelli, F., Short, S.W. and Taticchi, P. (2013). Case study of ILVA, Italy: The impact of failing to consider sustainability as a driver of business model evolution. Berlin: 11th Global Conference on Sustainable Manufacturing (CIRP). https://doi.org/10.13140/2.1.3725.4402
WWF (2012) Living Planet Report 2012. Accessed August 18, 2021 at http://awsassets.panda.org