Major companies are focusing on the triple bottom line by putting sustainability practices first.
Profit maximization and environmental corporate sustainability often find themselves at loggerheads because it always seems like one cannot coexist with the other. This is largely true in many industries as profit maximization takes precedent over environmentally sustainable practices. But a handful of companies are turning this way of thinking on its head and tackling sustainability issues head on and the results are stunning.
Many of these corporate titans have seen their fortunes improve over the years either as a direct or indirect consequence of their sustainability efforts. It has been shown on occasion that sustainability actually reduces cost of operations over time as well as creates purchasing incentives for an increasingly eco-conscious customer base. Here are five companies doing just this and trailblazing for hundreds of other companies to follow suit.
Honda is one of the few automobile companies that has an explicit AND implicit green initiative culture stretching back decades. The Japanese vehicle manufacturer has come all out to try and put more fuel efficient cars and alternative fuel vehicles on the market. But the company has recognized that the big switch to green vehicles is more an infrastructure challenge than a vehicle challenge and so have been working on putting alternative fuel recharging stations near people. This is to support its collection of green vehicles including the FCX Clarity Fuel Cell vehicle, Insight hybrid vehicle and Civic GX.
One of the biggest home products manufacturers in the world, Unilever has decided to also take the lead in tackling environmental issues associated with its products and business. Using their Sustainable Living Plan system, the company has been able to incorporate sustainability measures across every facet of its business. Some of the top initiatives they have made include both company facing and customer facing approaches.
On the company front, Unilever has been working at reducing the toxicity of its products while working with suppliers, merchandising and packaging departments and others to reduce the amount of waste in these aspects of their products. On the customer facing front, Unilever has understood that a lot of reducible wastage is associated with its products and has embarked on campaigns such as “Turn off you Tap” that seek to foster sustainable habits and practices among users. These efforts have paid off as Unilever has earned the praise and accolades of several green monitoring organizations such as the Climate Counts scorecard.
For a company whose core product relies on an environmentally scarce raw material (wood), IKEA has done remarkably well in its green initiatives. The Scandinavian company has been working hard over the years to not only increase the amount of wood it sources from sustainable sources but also foster sustainable business practices in its over 200 stores worldwide. For instance, the company has phased out use of incandescent lighting in all its stores, replacing these with fluorescent and LED lighting. It has also started installing solar power in its stores in the US.
IKEA also stopped using plastic bags in all its stores. One big way IKEA is tackling its heavy reliance on wood is by first placing very strict guidelines for its wood suppliers by introducing a wood certification program that ensures the wood is sourced from sustainable sources. In addition, it is pioneering alternatives for wood as it seeks to reduce the overall amount of wood that goes into its products. Something else to note is the way in which IKEA packages its products in very thin boxes, which allows more products to be transported on every trip.
J&J wants to be the most sustainable and environmentally friendly company on the planet. That’s a tall order but the company has been working at this vision for the past 20 years, something that has seen it attain significant gains in its green initiatives. Because of its heavy reliance on chemicals, most of which are toxic, the company has invested heavily in reducing the amount of toxic chemicals in its products while working on reducing overall carbon emissions from its factories and other units.
Switching to greener energy sources such as solar has helped achieve this and J&J now sports an impressive more-than-50% reliance on green energy. Similar to Unilever, J&J is also launching a raft of customer oriented campaigns aimed at reducing wastage by customers and promoting sustainable habits amongst its customers.
Starbucks has come a long way in the sustainability journey. From back in the day when the company was vilified for buying coffee from non-sustainable and farmer-unfriendly sources, Starbucks has done an about-turn to become one of the leading green initiative companies in the world.
Supporting farmer-friendly policies and practices in its raw material source markets and requiring suppliers to be more humane with workers and pay better, Starbucks has surely come of age as a green leader. Going further, the coffee company has been reworking most of its stores by retrofitting solar and LED lighting to replace grid and incandescent lighting respectively. The company has also been exploring the use of recycled materials for furniture and fixtures in its stores.
Guest post by Scott Ryan, green enthusiast, home improvement expert and brand ambassador for Call Mum, an eco-friendly and innovative home improvement firm specializing in patio and window installations.