Sustainability in business is not only an ethical imperative, but a strategic opportunity to reduce costs, innovate processes and increase stakeholder value. In this article, we will discover how to implement sustainable practices in your company by following 5 key steps.
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5 steps guide to sustainability in business
In recent years, the topic of sustainability has also become central for entrepreneurs. More and more companies are adopting strategies and initiatives to reduce their environmental impact and integrate sustainability into their core business.
However, how to make a business model sustainable? What are the best practices to adopt in order to be greener? Here is our 5 steps guide to becoming a responsible, virtuous, but above all sustainable business.
1. Analyse your company’s environmental impact
First of all, it’s essential to understand the impact your company has on the environment. The analysis will identify the areas of highest energy consumption, the amount of resources used and waste produced.
For example, IKEA aims to «create a better everyday life for people and the planet» through the design, production and distribution of affordable, functional and quality products that have the least possible impact on the environment.
2. Identifies areas for improvement
The second step is to assess strengths and areas for improvement in relation to ESG (environmental, social and governance) criteria. You can use tools such as the sustainability report, B Corp certification, or GRI (global reporting initiative) indicators, which allow you to measure and report a company’s sustainable performance in a standardised and comparable way.
An example of ESG analysis in Italy is the one practised by Enel Energia, which has defined a materiality matrix, i.e. a graphical representation of issues relevant to sustainability, both for the company and its stakeholders, and has set quantitative and qualitative targets to be reached by 2030.
3. Implement concrete actions and monitor their results
In order to practise sustainability in the company, you will have to implement concrete actions and monitor the results, verifying the degree to which the set goals are achieved and the return on investment (ROI).
Each action should be consistent with the sustainability objectives and involve the main processes and functions of the company, from production to marketing, from human resources to finance.
Some examples of concrete sustainable actions, already practised by many companies today, are
4. Communicate credibly and effectively
If you do not communicate credibly and effectively, you will not achieve anything. We advise you to base your sustainability communication on verifiable and transparent data that does not use inappropriate channels and language for your target audience.
To communicate transparently:
Improve and innovate continuously
The fifth and final step to practise sustainability in business is to continuously improve and innovate. Innovation requires a long-term vision, adaptability, learning and collaboration between different actors.
An example of sustainable innovation is that of Patagonia (a well-known fashion brand), which launched the Worn Wear programme; in practice, it incentivises customers to repair, exchange or recycle their garments instead of buying new ones, thus contributing to reducing the environmental impact and creating a community of conscious and responsible consumers.
Why social sustainability policies are also important
Beyond the guide you have just read on sustainability in business, social sustainability policies, which aim to improve the well-being and quality of life of employees, are equally important.
Welfare, diversity and inclusion, health and safety, work-life balance and continuous training are just some of the aspects of strategic human resources management within sustainability.
Dealing ethically with the supply chain can also reflect the commitment of some companies to respect human rights.
If, therefore, you want your company to become truly sustainable, you will have to engage and rethink your processes, supply chain, resource management (human and non-human) and business model to date. A strategic and integrated approach to sustainability will, however, enable you to create added value for your company and the entire community around it.
Develop your project with IPPO Engineering
For further advice on how to apply sustainability in your company and implement sustainable projects, please contact us by filling in the contact form or by calling +390954683879. IPPO Enginering is a business branch of IPPOCRATE AS specialised in environmental technologies and involved in several Italian and European projects.
Contact us to learn more.