The thought of achieving sustainability was earlier limited to the minds of scientists, social activists and visionaries. Gradually, it entered the corporate domain. At present, it is considered as one of the most important aspects of any progressive and dynamic company. Renowned brands not only give sustainability the highest priority but also see it as a major contributor towards success.
Increasing environmental concerns, stringent rules and regulations combined with public awareness, have changed the outlook of business around the world today. By planning and implementing appropriate strategies and functions like green processes, product developments, energy conservations etc., companies can play an important role in achieving sustainability. Nowadays, companies effectively face the challenge of environmental sustainability.
Companies who do business adopting environmental strategies face three stages. From abiding to the rules of eco-friendly environment and managing environmental risk to developing sustainable and long term strategies. Many companies have changed and many are changing towards more sustainability-oriented business goals.
Green product development is a shining star among other environmental strategies that most companies are adopting. Moreover, reports show that green product development strategy alone cannot contribute towards the target of achieving environmental sustainability. It can only stand up when it is supported by other environmental strategies.
For example, renowned Footwear Company's innovation team has adopted the strategy of avoiding oil-based plastic which resulted into reduced carbon emissions. Dry-dyeing clothes save water, chemicals and energy. Thus, companies are adopting innovations, which are environment friendly and produce better products. There are some strategies discussed below which support the environment as well as the business and have been adopted by companies worldwide.
It is necessary to ensure that all the business aspects such as product life cycle management, operations, Information and technology are effective enough to preserve the environment. The overall strategies of the company to improve business efficiency must include complete environmental obligations and energy consumption guidelines.
Environmental stewardship and energy conservation drive should be followed within the company's supply chain across the globe. Strategies which support cost reduction, increase operating and energy efficiency, lower air, water and soil pollution, save natural resources are the most effective strategies of any company. Companies introduce innovative methods to improve Information and technology operations to enhance the performance, without increasing the energy consumption.
The companies need to respond proactively towards the energy and climate challenges through energy saving strategies. Further, companies are keen to fulfill the public commitments they have made, which are valuable to the society and environment.
However, there should be complete transparency in reporting the progress of these strategies and achievement of the goals.
Number of companies has realized that implementing sustainable business strategies lead to better results and open up new opportunities. The first step of any company towards sustainability is the need to comply with environmental laws. Following national and international environmental regulations improves the company's environmental performance. Some companies not only comply with regulations, but also go a step further by adopting complete sustainable development programmes.
Managing environmental risk is the next step of a company towards achieving sustainability. Industries need to proactively adopt such strategies that will help to solve environmental problems. Companies adopt risk management approach to prevent environmental hazards. This strategy reduces company's expenditure resulting from environmental damage. For example, the air pollutants emitted from textile processes and the wastewaters from these textile operations are hazardous to the environment, if not properly treated.
S0, when the textile companies develop strategies, which help them in minimizing air, water and soil pollution during the processes; it indirectly helps them to reduce the expenditure for preventing environmental hazards at a later stage.
In addition, by minimizing waste, preventing pollution and eliminating health and safety risks, the company saves on operating cost too. Some companies organize environmental health and safety (EHS) evaluation, initiate environmental policies and carry out environmental management systems (EMSs). Further, pollution prevention and recycling are some techniques used by companies to transform strategies into achievements.
The final step is implementing the strategies to achieve sustainable development in business. The main goal of implementing the strategies is to create a favorable situation which earns profit along with environmental quality. Today, business strategies include corporate environmental policies, considering the long term economic, environmental and social benefits and needs of their customers.
Sustainable development for a company means adopting strategies and actions, which fulfill the requirements of the company, clients and customers at present; at the same time protecting, upholding and improving the human and natural resources, in value and quality for the future. When the companies are able to preserve natural resources, it supports sustainable development. Companies aim at adopting strategies which can provide clean air, unpolluted water and healthy soil for the future generations.
Benefits of adopting strategies for environmental sustainability
Companies who have adopted energy efficiency strategies such as changing lights to replacing old computers have resulted in saving up to $1 billion in net operational costs.
Going green not only saves money, but also attracts consumers who care for the environment and thus increases the revenue of the company.
Earlier, companies adopted sustainability strategies so as to comply with the government laws, otherwise they had to pay penalty. Now, leading companies are proactively adhering to the concept of sustainability, as they want to contribute towards environment conservation. Moreover, all central, state and local governments provide incentives to the companies for initiating tasks to conserve environment. It includes exemptions from sales tax, income-tax credit, more depreciation for some capital expenses, cash incentives etc.
Additionally, the company's brand value improves by promoting environmentally responsible activities. This overall results into building a positive image of the company. Also, it attracts employees and helps retain workers in the company.
Industries need to understand that natural resources like water and fuel are limited. When the resources start diminishing, the cost will increase and with passage of time, the industries may not be able to procure the natural resources according to their needs. Therefore, it's the duty of every company to protect these resources and find alternative methods for manufacturing their products and services.
In a survey of around 3000 global executives, nearly two-third of the employees found sustainability necessary to stay in today's competitive market. Renowned apparel and footwear brands are trying to build new business models, products and services by adopting the environmental strategies to achieve sustainability. They believe that innovations made after adopting these strategies will determine future market leaders.
Preserving environment is just one element of the concept 'sustainable development'. Economy and society are the other two important elements. For companies to achieve sustainable development, appropriate strategies need to be planned and implemented in economic, social and environmental areas.