Picture a world free of pollution and toxic waste. We dream of living in a world where energy is safe, clean and accessible to all.
Currently, we utilize the equivalent of 1.5 earths to provide us with the resources we require and soak up our waste. Future scenarios also call for better and improved sustainability trends to make sure we preserve our resources for future generations. But sustainable development essentially involves several stakeholders functioning at different scales; from federal governments to local corporations and small villages.
More than 170 countries gathered at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. World leaders agreed to follow sustainable development practices to prevent interfering with climate systems by conserving natural resources. However, there’s little that we’ve achieved so far.
Sustainability of the environment is an attempt to guarantee that the way we operate today is not going to affect our future generations. The green economy can play a crucial role in boosting the role of renewable energies in the power sector and improve the rate of natural resource consumption.
The economic failures originate in the first place because environmentally destructive operations are financially rewarded. Since a forest is worth more money after it is cut down, countries that are making a transition to a market-based economy struggle to keep-up with sustainability trends.
Political failures also occur when governments fail to employ effective policies. This is usually because industries, like mining, which are leading players in an economy, view themselves as having the most to lose. This happens in both developing and developed countries.
Poor communication of the advantages of sustainable development leads to the belief that it always costs money and jobs. Communities and businesses also put pressure on politicians to discard eco-friendly legislation.
Finally, this vicious cycle represents a failure to convince everyone that sustainable development leads to “win-win” scenarios. Hence, decision-makers are always stuck in the jobs vs. environment debate.
Governments must offer financial incentives to turn to eco-efficient development. Politicians should have the courage to go well beyond present standards. Well-targeted interventions can reward eco-friendly behavior and impose a fine on unsustainable activities.
Governments also need to offer a viable transition pathway for businesses that are causing the most damage. Environmental grants and tax breaks would enable businesses to enjoy profits while they change their business models.
Finally, all businesses leaders must be convinced of both the severity of the deteriorating state of the environment and that sustainable development is a solution. Working on positive case studies of winning green businesses is a good start for businesses to adopt sustainable manufacturing methods.
There are no perfect solutions when it comes to sustainability. There will be challenges, mistakes, and sometimes failures. Switching to a framework that allows businesses to identify sustainable waste management objectives goes a long way.
Let’s take a look at five successful companies that have embraced the best sustainability trends to contribute to the initiative.
Unilever goes beyond than making just green investments. The company has ensured that sustainability remains a strong part of its corporate identity. Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan has successfully set targets for supply chain, sourcing and production on all processes from water and energy use to the treatment of communities and suppliers where they operate.
When the company initially adopted green practices in 2010, the CEO Paul Polman expressed his intention to double Unilever’s business while reducing its environmental impact in a decade.
The company has made incredible achievements: three-quarters of the brand’s safe waste does not get dumped in landfills and the share of all agricultural suppliers that employ sustainable practices has tripled. Thanks to these advanced developments, it’s not surprising to note that the UN awarded Unilever’s CEO the Champion of the Earth Award for his continued efforts toward accomplishing this status.
The leading brand has invested in sustainability during its entire lifespan. The Swedish furniture-maker starts with its supply chain, where 50% of the company’s wood is sourced from sustainable foresters. Whereas the company’s cotton comes from farms that comply with the Better Cotton standards to guarantee that no water, energy or chemical fertilizers are wasted.
We also observe their commitment to sustainability at their stores since IKEA boasts more than 700,000 solar panels to power its stores. IKEA has shared its goal to be powered by 100% renewables by 2020.
Nike has not enjoyed the best reputation when it comes to corporate sustainability. However, the brand has made significant changes in its production and supply chain practices. Nike also topped Morgan Stanley’s list of most sustainable footwear and clothing companies in 2015.
The company is also making efforts to make it easier for designers to consider green choices with an app to help them weigh the environmental footprint of several different types of fabrics.
Nike also utilizes post-consumer recycled materials in the production of some of its products. The brand has also redesigned its boxes in an attempt to reduce packaging. Nike continues to remain committed to reducing chemical discharges and has partnered with NASA and other agencies to bring revolutionary changes in its processing of raw materials to become a sustainable company.
Panasonic has not received as many accolades as other renowned companies in our times. However, the brand has consistently won high marks thanks to its practical energy goals, both in terms of renewables and efficiency.
The company also manufactures environmentally friendly products and has moved its North American headquarters from New Jersey to downtown Newark by Penn Station.
The move was made to purge the need for employees to drive to work so as to reduce their carbon footprint. Panasonic is also collaborating with several other companies to establish a Sustainable Smart Town in Japan.
5. Seventh Generation
This company not only invests in sustainable practices, but has also created a space for green products in an environmentally destructive industry. You won’t find too many companies that manufacture household cleaners adopting green and sustainable production operations to protect our environment.
Without a doubt, toxic and strong chemical pollute waterways and groundwater. The success of Seventh Generation proves that any company can switch to greener versions of their products to go green, without compromising on profits.
Today’s companies must implement sustainable improvements and switch to renewable energy to guarantee a clean energy revolution. Companies must establish clearly defined goals and set a direction to start on the path of trial and error to accomplish their sustainability objectives.