3 Ways to Make Smarter Sustainability Decisions

by Ryan Lynch | Tue, Jan 25, 2022

Business SustainabilityConcentric
Blog Repurposing of Food Logistics Byline

The business landscapes of today are shifting to become more sustainable and environmentally-friendly. But what does “sustainable” really mean? It all comes down to the definition of sustainability -- is it merely the level of environmental impact created versus the current status quo, or does it meet the definition of sustainability from Webster, which is “capable of being sustained or maintained?” While in theory these movements sound impactful, there seems to be a few major flaws in the current processes. So what is the best way to be sustainable?

The truth is the best sustainability initiatives are those that are delivering long term results and are defined by three values; planet, people, and profit. When considering impact on the planet, sustainable goals will lessen carbon footprints and environmental impact, such as waste. When considering people, these goals should be in the interest of creating a healthier environment for employees, customers and stakeholders. When considering profit, set and reach goals that deliver financial benefit to the bottom line. Here is how organizations can begin to make smarter sustainability decisions rooted in environmental stewardship, safer operations and fiscal responsibility.

1. Update Requirements on reusable materials.

Are your suppliers practicing sustainability? Taking a closer look at what your suppliers are doing, and speak up if you see areas that can be improved. Many companies are beginning to set pre-requisites for vendor and supplier relationships related to sustainability metrics, such as requiring a percentage of reuse. This could be an opportunity to support your own sustainability and better your supplier partnerships.

2. Refresh and optimize systems as you use them. 

It is simpler and faster to make small tweaks to systems on an ongoing basis than to conduct massive overhauls periodically. Do your team members see this as a core part of their job? Is it part of your culture to continuously improve and take out wasteful steps or audits? This is a great opportunity to collect employee feedback and ideas on how to become more sustainable and efficient. Also, refreshing systems that are already in place is little to no cost for your business.

3. Prioritize solutions that are proven, including the ROI. 

Ask for references, look at the numbers and measure your options in a scorecard format against capital investment, environmental impact as well as safety and wellness impact. Better yet, make a habit of measuring all projects against the triple bottom line methodology. Give extra points for initiatives that are already proven. Solutions being implemented should be able to clearly distinguish in black and white their impact on deliverables like safety, waste and savings for the long haul.

When it comes to sustainability, start with an area of your business that needs improvement; ask yourselves how is this impacting the planet, our people, and our profits? What areas can we be more sustainable and save money? What safety gaps can be filled with sustainable solutions? Adopting sustainable practices and implementing them in ways that make a difference is critical to keeping a competitive edge in today’s market.

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