3 reasons your business should care about sustainability

3 grunde til, at jeres virksomhed bør gå op i bæredygtighed

The sustainable advantage: how and why to become part of the circular economy

A recent survey of large companies in six countries around the world identified that environmental management and sustainability have become growing corporate priorities because of COVID-191.

For the print industry at large, this is not a new concept or initiative. Concerns about paper waste, energy use, recycling and re-using materials have always been high on the agenda for print sellers, OEMs reusing organisations that use print as part of their day-to-day. But with the 2020s labelled as the ‘decade of action’ by the UN2, the urgency around these topics means that businesses and individuals are more focused than ever on ensuring sustainability and helping prevent climate change. Indeed a study3 from Quocirca found that more than half of IT decision makers believe that reducing environmental impact is the top challenge associated with managing their print infrastructure from 2019-2025. For suppliers and OEMs, the pressure is apparent. Those same IT decision makers expect that print manufacturers and suppliers will play a role in helping them gain environmental performance improvements - 57% believe that suppliers should be taking a leading position around sustainability by 2025.

But these trends don’t solely apply to the print industry. The pandemic has rapidly changed working habits for everyone around the world, and pressure from consumers means that all businesses are increasingly being asked to focus on sustainability to maintain their corporate reputations. This ‘perfect storm’ of factors is leading to the circular economy being predicted4 to drive supply chain management, and pivoting business models towards a less wasteful approach. So, what does this look like in practice?

Re-using materials when designing new products is not a new concept, but it is reusing more popular. An example is the Canon imageRUNNER ADVANCE EQ80 range, which uses up to 80% reused materials in its building, to retain the value of raw materials. Fewer new materials and parts naturally means less waste in the short and long term and contributes to the circular economy. Investing in products that are manufactured in this way can go a long way in helping businesses bolster their eco-credentials, while simultaneously contributing to a more sustainable society.

Reusing and remanufacturing

According to the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, a circular economy is “based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems.”

Designing (or purchasing) with longevity in mind

Sustainable products should not have to compromise on functionality. One of the benefits of remanufacturing over refurbishing, is that products are built from a mix of old and new parts and assembled to work as new devices with brand new factory warranties. This ensures the product won’t be a false economy and end up in a landfill for failing early. It also ensures that it will stand up to the same standards as a like-for-like new model.

Maximising ease of recycling and recycled value of components

Recycling and reusing schemes are already a common feature of the circular economy approach. In the print industry for example, this started with toner cartridges in the 1990s, and was spurred on by the implementation of the WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Directive. As the demand for such initiatives grows, businesses would do well to consider how to incorporate more recycled devices and components into their own workflows, to differentiate from the competition and demonstrate their commitment to social responsibility.

Why go green?

Put simply, sustainability is a great way for companies to show that they are investing in the future. By committing to strict codes of conduct on reusing materials, designing products built to last, and recycling where possible, brands show they can be relied upon to meet high standards year after year.

Moreover, such commitments are often externally recognised and rewarded by organisations such as the Ecovadis business sustainability ratings, CDP and European Sustainable Brand Index. 5 International accolades like this continue to strengthen a brand’s reputation and reassure stakeholders.

Attract new talent

Improved brand image makes it easier to attract new employees to a business, too. 76% of millennials consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work6 and 75%7 would stay for less money if they worked for a socially responsible company. This kind of retention is a cornerstone of success and healthy work culture, and the cultivation of engaged and passionate employees protects the longevity of an organisation while driving its future success.

Sustainability underpins purpose and passion. Deloitte found that 73% of employees who feel that they work for a purpose-driven company said that they are engaged with their job8. People want to be part of something bigger than themselves and want to feel great about what they do every day. This serves to emphasise why incorporating sustainability into a business can prove so effective in the long run.

The sustainable imperative

To be an ethical industry leader, organisations need to be seen as progressing sustainability willingly, systemically and authentically, not as a token nod to a trend. However, the brands that last are those that can adapt to change. Not every company championed sustainability from the beginning, but by harnessing the trend they demonstrate to stakeholders that they are able to flex to new expectations and behaviours rather than be left behind. By reinforcing these messages, organisations can build a reputation for longevity.

Sustainability, and the need for a more circular economic model can’t be ignored. But businesses shouldn’t see it simply as an obligation – it’s a stellar opportunity. The multitude of benefits including marketing advantage, brand perception, investor relations and cost savings, may well be too good to pass up.

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