Covid-19 and climate change have exposed the need for brands to turn to more sustainable solutions. It is commendable that organizations globally are engaging and implementing programs and initiatives to prioritize sustainability.
Brand Sustainability is a wonderful concept that has the potential to not only drastically change the world but bring massive awareness to global, social, and environmental issues. But being sustainable isn’t something that can be done overnight. Even though many companies are convinced that becoming environmentally friendly will erode competitiveness, they also fear that it will add to costs and not deliver immediate financial benefits.
CEOs of big companies fear that switching to sustainability or developing “green” products will place them at disadvantage. As it’ll be difficult for suppliers to provide transparency or green inputs; new types of equipment will be required for sustainable manufacturing and consumers will be reluctant to pay more for eco-friendly products during a recession. Making it one of the reasons, most executives treat the need to become sustainable as a corporate social responsibility, divorced from business objectives.
As was foreseeable, the fight to save the planet has turned into a high-pitched battle between the government, companies, and consumer activists. It is difficult to bring all three of them on one single page. Government initiative towards sustainability is less. To solve this issue more and increasingly tougher regulations should be implemented on the government's part. Knowledge about sustainability, carbon emission, climate change is less among consumers, hence consumers should be educated so they will force businesses to become sustainable.
One of the biggest roadblocks for companies and brands that already invest in sustainability is the lack of systematic incentives or framework to engage in sustainability and the lack of available information. Companies that are reluctant to invest in sustainability state the lack of awareness of benefits and little to no understanding of the business case for small/ medium brands, not enough support services to guide and support implementation, and a lack of knowledge on environmental issues end up becoming roadblocks in switching to sustainability.
Another roadblock that companies often face is how to reduce or calculate waste and emissions. Most large companies induce suppliers to become environment-conscious by offering them incentives. Companies can detect waste sources by using tools like corporate carbon management, carbon and energy footprint analysis, and life-cycle assessment. Life-cycle analysis is very useful: It tracks the environmental inputs and outputs of whole value chains, from raw materials to product usage and returns. Managing workplace data can pose a roadblock for some companies.
Following a paperless approach is not as difficult as it seems. Sustainability has the potential to lead to innovative next-practice platforms. At the junction of the internet and energy management, one is forming. Through meters, sensors, and applications, companies will be able to optimize the energy use of computers, network devices, machinery, telephones, and building equipment by using digital technology to manage power generation, transmission, and distribution from all types of sources, as well as consumer demand. It will also allow for the creation of cross-industry platforms to manage the energy needs of cities, businesses, buildings, and individuals. Cisco, HP, Dell, and IBM are among the technology companies that are already investing in the development of these platforms.
According to Harvard Business’s research sustainability is a mother lode of organizations and technological innovations that yield both bottom-line and top-line returns. Becoming environmentally friendly, instead of increasing the costs, lowers them. As companies end up reducing the inputs they use. Moreover, the process generates additional revenues from better products or enables companies to create new products.
Many big companies have benefitted by switching to a sustainable approach. For Instance, in the early 1990s Hewlett- Packard( HP) understood that lead is toxic and the government would one day ban lead solders. Over the following decade, HR experimented with various alternatives for lead, and by 2006 was successful in creating solders that are a blend of silver, tin, and copper and developed chemical agents to tackle the issue of oxidation and tarnishing during the soldering process. This HP was able to comply with the European Union’s Restrictions of Hazardous Substances Directive, which regulates the use of lead in electronic products, as soon as it took effect in 2006.
Contrary to popular perception sustainability can actually save companies money. What brands and companies need to understand about sustainability is that roadblocks to sustainability are just mental roadblocks. Deeply rooted myths that should be broken. If businesses adapt to green practices they can bring enormous changes. To summarize, sustainability is a big concern that affects more than just individual businesses. However, a number of significant corporations are implementing forward-thinking environmental practices, which is encouraging. It is definitely becoming evident that sustainability is a megatrend that simply isn’t going away!