5 Things to Consider for Your Sustainability Strategy
17 February 2022
With sustainability now central to responsible business conduct, your work as a sustainability officer becomes even more essential to your organisation’s success.
The term sustainability encompasses ecological, economic and social impact. To meet these criteria, you’re likely designing and coordinating projects and objectives across almost every department in the business.
With such wide-reaching goals, opportunities and approaches, it can be hard to know where to start. The best way to narrow down your focus? Look at your company’s core attributes and decide what matters most to your business. You might look at your:
- internal processes,
- owner and stakeholder structure,
- national and regional legal requirements,
- individual sustainability goals and priorities,
- corporate strategy,
- existing sustainability measures.
With potential areas of focus in mind, you can begin to review or draft your sustainability strategy. But before you get started, check out our five essential focus areas for your company’s sustainability management.
1. Identify Your Company’s Focus
Effective sustainability strategy must find its inspiration in your organisation. As sustainability officer, identify an area of focus around which to coordinate your goals, decisions and efforts. You might choose resource management, packaging, or logistics, for example. Or you may focus on a specific resource, such as water or wood.
To help choose your company's sustainability focus, consider these three intentions:
- Efficiency: How could you use resources more efficiently while achieving the same benefit? For example, using technology to make processes more efficient.
- Consistency: How could you change fundamental processes to have a more positive impact? For example, switching plastic packaging to a compostable alternative.
- Sufficiency: How could you reduce consumption of energy and materials? For example, reducing packaging.
Rooting your sustainability focus in this structure is highly effective. Rather than a detached set of policies, your goals become part of the corporate culture. You will motivate employees, investors and other stakeholders whose support you’ll need to carry out the strategy. Finally, initial positive actions will breed new ideas. This creates a positive feedback loop of continual improvement towards your goals.
2. Digitise Your Processes
Once you’ve decided on your sustainability focus, digital transformation will help you get there. Digitisation promises relevant information and efficient administrative support. This will allow you to set up new processes, adapt them and achieve your sustainability goal.
For this reason, investing in digital systems yields a worthwhile return. They make setting and implementing new sustainable measures easy. Then, they track your success. Digitisation is particularly valuable when it comes to waste management and recycling.
3. Recycle Efficiently
Efficient recycling is the cornerstone of many sustainability strategies. And it will only become more important in the future. Why? In most production and service industries, it’s impossible to eliminate waste altogether. The WWF estimates that between 207,000 and 353,000 tonnes of plastic waste ends up in the world's oceans from EU countries alone. There, it poses a serious threat to marine ecosystems. Thanks to statistics like these, public awareness of responsible waste disposal is growing.
Conscious handling of operational waste is essential for any sustainable business. Luckily, digital advances have streamlined efficient waste management. Resourcify helps you manage even the most complex recycling processes with ease. Track limitless types of waste and link them to their respective disposal companies. At the end, you get clear and extensive documentation of your waste management process.
This digital approach lets you go beyond just meeting regulatory requirements. You can optimise economically by reducing costs and generating revenue from selling recyclables. As Resourcify customer Hornbach found, efficient recycling collection can become a source of income, generating money from the company’s waste.
4. Reduce Emissions
We’ve all noticed the growing frequency of extreme weather events. Each one serves as a reminder that we must all do our bit to limit CO² emissions and protect lives and livelihoods. Industrialised nations have the most work to do.
According to Statista, the per capita emissions of greenhouse gases in Germany are double the international average of 4.7 tonnes, standing at 7.8 tonnes. As businesses, we have a special opportunity and responsibility to make a difference.
As KPMG points out, there is a competitive advantage to tackling CO² emissions now. Regulation in this area will only become stricter. Developing a concrete strategy for reducing emissions now will make your company future-proof.
5. Report and Communicate
For your sustainability strategy to succeed, you need cooperation from many different stakeholders. Owners and investors must support and endorse your sustainability measures. But it’s employees who have perhaps the most important role of all. They carry out changes across hierarchical and departmental boundaries. They take the little steps to achieve your big goals.
To coordinate these joint efforts, transparent communication and reporting are essential. Accurate and tangible figures support concrete targets and goalposts that create an environment for change.
This is where these five measures come together. Reporting from digital tools to support the company’s focus and the successful implementation of your sustainability measures.
How to Set Sustainability Goals for Business-Wide Success
So, we’ve identified the five key areas of focus in your role as sustainability officer. As you establish or review your company sustainability strategy, ask yourself:
- What sustainability focus can I set that has roots in our corporate culture?
- How can I leverage digital technology to make our approach to sustainability more efficient?
- How do waste management and recycling factor into our sustainability policy?
- What are we doing to reduce CO² emissions?
- How can goal-oriented and thorough reporting optimise our sustainability efforts?
By taking a proactive approach now, sustainability will contribute to your company's long-term success on an ecological, economic and social level.