UK business could secure £100bn in annual productivity gains generated by innovations designed to address environmental and social challenges, according to a new report by Accenture the charity Business in the Community and Marks & Spencer.
The report, Fortune Favours the Brave, argues that companies must go beyond conventional corporate and social responsibility programmes and, instead, place sustainability at the heart of business strategies and operations to unlock the full commercial potential and sustainability benefits.
Based on primary and secondary research by Accenture and in depth discussions with CEOs of some of the UK’s leading companies such as Kingfisher, BT Group and Jaguar Land Rover, the report suggests that scaling innovation in five categories – resource efficiency, the circular economy, new consumption models, shared value approaches and transparency and customer engagement – can improve competitiveness, grow revenues and better address changing customer needs.
Olly Benzecry, Managing Director UK and Ireland, Accenture said: “At a time of economic challenges and changing consumer expectations, there is an opportunity to make sustainable business practices a driver of growth and competitiveness. That requires companies to innovate and to embrace the disruption that new sustainable business models can create.”
Stephen Howard, Chief Executive, Business in the Community said: “In todays rapidly changing and increasingly resource constrained world – which will need to provide for 9 billion people by 2050 – it has never been more important for companies of all sizes to understand how and why sustainability is central to their long-term success and prosperity.”
Marc Bolland, Chief Executive, Marks & Spencer, said: “As customer values and expectations evolve, sustainable products need to be made more desirable to engage with customers and to develop a self-sustaining, circular economy. Everybody wants a racing car, but even a racing car can be fuel efficient. We need to make sustainability desirable, appealing and relevant, and by responding to customer wants, UK business will have more impact.”
The report provides details of the commercial potential and sustainability benefits of a range of innovation opportunities:
Resource efficiency: companies can generate annual savings of £61bn by scaling resource efficiency and energy efficiency initiatives and through the use of cleaner technologies, according to Accenture analysis based on data published by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills. For example, Marks & Spencer reduced its clothing delivery vehicle fleet by 25 per cent and improved fuel efficiency by 30 percent.
Circular economy: the UK consumer goods industry could save £15bn to £18bn annually by closing the loop on supply chains, extending asset life, promoting re-use and designing products for disassembly, according to analysis for the report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Accenture estimates that circular economy approaches can achieve a 50 to 90 percent reduction in a product’s environmental footprint.
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