What is business sustainability?

Monday 3rd October 2022

Alongside the climate crisis is the trend for businesses to become more sustainable. There are increasingly more businesses including sustainable practices within their corporate strategies, attempting to generate profits whilst ensuring their impact on the environment and society is a positive one.

So, what is business sustainability?

Business sustainability is when a company takes operational strategic decisions designed to have little to no negative effect on the environment or community. By managing the demands a business makes on the environment, its purpose is to be sustainable and to ensure that its ongoing success is responsible and ethical.

A sustainable business attempts to address its current needs with the aim to avoid jeopardising the future generation’s ability to survive.

There are 3 main categories that a sustainable business will try to address

  1. Economic
  2. Environment
  3. Community

The goal is to make a positive impact on at least one of them. Neglecting these goals can find companies adding to environmental damage, inequality and social issues with a result that may create liabilities in the long term.

A sustainable company will therefore make sure that its business decisions take into consideration the impact they have environmentally and try to ensure that making money in the short term doesn’t compromise its values.

Examples of Sustainability in Business

The strategies taken by sustainable companies can be varied and will very much depend on the type of organisation and how their strategies fit with any larger goals and values.

Examples include:

  • Going paperless and using recycled materials or non-toxic raw materials and processes.
  • Using sustainable, recycled and non-toxic raw materials when manufacturing products - a popular one being the use of recycled plastic bottles to create polyester for clothing.
  • Making sure that the energy used in the business is generated from renewable energy sources like wind farms and solar panels.
  • Ensuring that supply chains work as efficiently as possible to ensure that greenhouse gas emissions are minimised.
  • Investing in local community projects and education funds, or making charitable donations to environmental enterprises or to developing communities across the world to ensure they can move away from their reliance on practices that emit greenhouse gases.
  • Counteracting the effect of greenhouse gases on the environment, for example by planting specific trees in specific areas to help soak up some of the carbon produced.

A sustainable business makes sustainability the main principle in all of its decisions. It is a business that can be profitable but is also able to look at the worldwide practices that are contributing to the planet in a negative way and adopt those that avoid these undesirable outcomes. By designing products that meet the needs of its customers but use renewable sources in its development, production, manufacture and delivery it will benefit people, planets and profits.

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