Once just a passing fad or marketing hype, sustainability has now become a major focal point driving business change across market sectors. Stakeholders have demanded that businesses be more sustainable, driving companies to develop best practices on impact, inclusion, and sustainability. In the report “Making Sense of Sustainability,” Lux Research addresses three primary questions: whether companies should bother with sustainability at all, how to set the right goals, and how to incorporate sustainability into strategy.
“Climate and sustainability have become the most important factor now for all stakeholders, including shareholders, consumers, and employees, who have shifted from wanting it to demanding it,” says Gihan Hewage, lead author of the report. “Companies have already been driven to bankruptcy in part due to not responding quickly enough to these changing consumer demands, making sustainability an important factor for businesses to consider.” Employees are also taking more action to make their workplaces more sustainable, showing that attracting and retaining top talent requires taking environmental impact seriously.
“Companies should focus on translating sustainability into actionable goals,” according to Hewage. Three key ways to do this are by using fewer resources, reducing emissions (most notably CO2 and methane), and reducing waste. Fewer resources can be used through reducing water, energy, or raw material use. Companies should also shift to sustainable packaging that is multiuse or does not use single-use plastic. Reducing emissions can be accomplished by switching to renewable energy and raw materials and reusing materials to curtail the impact of manufacturing. Companies making a larger impact have shown a significant interest in overhauling their processes entirely to utilize cleaner emerging technologies that have proven effective and cost-friendly.
Emphasizing sustainability and incorporating it into strategy is key for overall success. All companies, even the most environmentally conscious ones that are reducing the amount of raw materials used, will produce some waste. This has driven interest in developing a circular economy and addressing end-of-life issues with emerging technologies where possible – such as by recycling plastics and other waste products, using food waste as a form of feedstock, and offering solutions for batteries.
All companies can work to make their operations more sustainable, and often find financial benefits in doing so. Beyond operations, product development can include ways to help consumers reduce their impact. Lux recommends that all organizations tap into new business opportunities fueled by the sustainability trend.
For more information, you can download the report here.