Incorporation of Sustainable Practices is a Win-Win Strategy for Businesses
According to a recent report published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS), man-made climate change is responsible for making specific weather events more extreme. The report warns about the cataclysmic effects that will follow if we fail to restrict global warming from turning into a dreadful calamity. We, as a society, must rise to this challenge and do the best we can. This is where the conversation starts to revolve around the role businesses play in contributing to climate change, and the impending obligation companies have to do something about it. There is an onus of responsibility for companies and organizations to practice sustainability. It is becoming more and more clear that businesses today must practice sustainability as an integral part of their operations. Innovating new, environment-friendly, yet frugal practices can be challenging. Still, many companies have started taking some crucial steps in this direction. These practices can carve a path forward for society as a whole to follow and move towards a more sustainable way of living.
It feels like a lot is riding on our ability as consumers, to move away from single-use plastic and turn towards more eco-friendly alternatives. What kind of alternatives? You might think. There are some recommendations below.
It has not been long since IT applications have allowed us to electronically store a large amount of information in the form of files instead of doing it the old-fashioned way by using paper documents. As a result, we have progressively made modern workplace paperless. Looking around it is hard to find an office that does not primarily depend upon computing capacity and prowess to store its data. Implementation of electronic documentation has not just served as a method to practice sustainability, even though its positive effects on the environment are not trivial. But it is important to note that it has also made the functionality of business operations incredibly fast and efficient. Moreover, it saves warehouse space from being occupied, unnecessarily.
One of the more common methods by which business organizations practice sustainability is recycling. The impact of recycling has been revolutionary. Not just in terms of its positive effect on the environment but also in terms of its economic feasibility. XEROX stands as a wonderful example. By recycling 95% of its entire electronic equipment, XEROX is successfully saving hundreds of millions of dollars every year. Not to mention, it effectively diminished the amount of waste being produced.
The more energy a company uses to operate, the more it is responsible for the resulting carbon emissions. Therefore to practice sustainability by innovating energy-efficient ways to conduct business operations could prove vital in protecting our planet from the harmful green-house gases. An excellent model would be the one followed by Walmart. By implementing smart and efficient energy-saving strategies, Walmart has succeeded in reducing waste and becoming one of the leading energy-efficient companies in America.
One of the amazing sustainable business practices to have emerged recently has been clean transportation. Clean transportation works around developing technological solutions that minimize the carbon emissions from the automobiles. In the US, automobiles are responsible for 50% of the total energy consumption. Hence, the market for clean transportation has an immense potential to grow. For instance, Walmart has able to cut down around 650,000 metric tons of emissions and has been able to save well above $1 Billion in fuel costs. All this was the result of the efficient decline of empty or underfilled truck-miles by using innovative and advanced fuel changes and vehicle light-weighting.
The placement of computerized controls and sensors to supervise the manufacturing process is another sustainable practice that has yielded impressive results. Take the example of Weirton Steel Corporation. After installing computerized controls and sensors, it was able to drastically lower its emissions while simultaneously saving up to $12 million a year in fuel costs. Weirton particularly succeeded in bringing about a 30% decrease in the release of blast furnace gas and waste steam. Being the 8th largest steel producer in the US, Weirton has been able to achieve great outcomes by replacing outdated equipment with innovative computerized controls.
The term reverse logistics indicates a set of actions that take place after a product or service has been sold. The crux of reverse logistics involves the return of the product to the manufacturer or distributor for recycling and making the product fit for reuse. Estee Lauder implemented a reverse-logistics software application that remarkably shrank the volume of waste resulting from damaged products. Getting a handle on the dump of destroyed products aided Estee Lauder to effectively economize about $30 million in a single year.
It is not prudent to expect from one individual or one business enterprise to come up with all the solutions. However, we should keep nudging ourselves towards seeking and implementing sustainable ideas. Our aim must be to prioritize co-existence. However, it does not mean that businesses have to compromise the bottom line to practice sustainability. There is an attainable middle ground. Balancing these contradictions is a continuing challenge for all of us.