5 Ways to Prioritize Sustainability in Your Business Plan

Now more than ever, sustainability is being actively sought out by customers and legislative bodies alike—luckily, there are ever-increasing ways you can keep sustainability at the forefront of your operations in the new year, potentially leading to increased market share and better overall organization performance.

Sustainability Is Increasingly Important

Sustainability is a hot topic. In a 2022 survey by IBM, 49% of people indicated that they will pay an average of 59% more for products that are sustainable or socially responsible. Companies are responding to this push—coming up with new and creative ways to cut energy consumption, improve recycling, and generally reduce their impact on the environment. Certain companies are even committing to stop making certain potentially hazardous chemicals.

On top of this, national and worldwide agreements are being made and goals are being set that will likely force businesses and facilities to take steps toward sustainability—or risk being subjected to hefty fines. Parties at COP27, for example, agreed to a further commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally—the implications of this agreement are still being realized, but will likely cause business operations changes across the board.

Not to mention that legislation currently exists nationwide that has forced facilities to become more eco-conscious. Governor Gavin Newsom of California, for example, approved a 2021 bill that requires plastic beverage container manufacturers to include a higher percentage of recycled material—or face penalties. In California, Georgia, Minnesota, Washington, and New York, local government projects are legally required to undergo an environmental review before they can begin.

Federal eco-legislation and the broader consumer push for sustainability is likely to continue—and businesses and organizations that do not prioritize sustainability are falling behind. Luckily, there are ways to incorporate sustainability into your business plan in the new year—helping you avoid potentially losing a valuable and loyal client-base, conceding market share, and becoming non-compliant.

Sustainability Throughout the Year

It can be challenging for managers to keep up with the increasing emphasis on sustainability—but as more regulations and demands come into play, it is important to preemptively consider the ways that sustainability might affect business operations. Here, we will explore ways to work sustainability into your business plan:

  1. Appoint a Sustainability Team or Manager: If possible, creating or outsourcing a sustainability team can be a great first step—even just appointing an employee to take the lead in this area can be significant progress as it demonstrates a company culture of sustainability. A dedicated team or person can help find innovative ways to meet sustainability challenges that, when applied company-wide, can improve overall business operations. While this can be done in- house, outsourcing this work to an outside team provides unique advantages—third-party groups will usually know other business practices, understand new or upcoming regulatory requirements, and be able to craft possible solutions quickly and easily. These will allow them to come up with an efficient and robust sustainability plan, saving valuable internal employee time.

  2. Perform a Sustainability Audit: Review your major business functions from the previous year and identify any areas in which sustainability was not included in decision making. Decide which areas are material for your company to focus on. From there, research how these areas could be more sustainable and identify what best practices may currently exist in the market that may be beneficial. A thorough analysis of organizational struggles and industry best practices can help anticipate and plan for potential challenges to progress.

  3. Conduct Thorough Research: Research is the key to successfully incorporating sustainability into your business plan. Understanding the ways that different operations affect the environment is the first step to making processes more sustainable. On top of this, research can reveal innovative ways to solve common sustainability problems and allow you to combat issues with a different mindset and set of tools. One of the best ways to conduct research is to review sustainability reports published online by competitors and organizations within your supply chain—an example of which is Coca Cola’s 2021 ESG Report.

  4. Anticipate Waste Generation: Part of your sustainability audit should include an analysis of waste generation for the previous year. Armed with that knowledge and the knowledge of future projects throughout the year, you will be able to anticipate the amount and type of waste that is expected throughout the calendar year. If you know what waste will be produced, you can create a plan for proper disposal or recycling, which may help you avoid the major environmental and economic impacts of sending waste to the landfill.

  5. Rethink the Lifecycle of Your Plastics: Historically, operations managers have overlooked the negative impacts of sending plastic waste to landfill. Today, plastic recycling can provide a solution for organizations looking to increase the sustainability of their operations by providing a way to extend the lifecycle of their plastic waste. These newer solutions allow for plastics to be used in other applications in other industries, turning plastic waste back into something useful.

Hopefully, these steps can help you incorporate sustainability into your business plans—ultimately moving you closer to your business goals and creating a better environment for us all. Not sure how you can increase the sustainability of your business? Contact Triumvirate Environmental today—we have the staff, the know-how, and the experience to help you reach your sustainability goals.

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