When it comes to saving the environment, everyone expects their government to do something. Regular events like the United Nations Environmental Summit and the Sustainability Summit bring government organizations together to act. What we missed out on is the kind of impact corporations would have they adopted sustainability.
Some countries are so large in size and revenue, they could be countries (albeit a small country). Corporations influences local communities, quality of life, and contributes to the environment around it. It actually makes sense for them to lend a hand in ensuring environmental sustainability.
How can corporations be sustainable? How can they plan corporate sustainability initiatives that creates ripples? We have a few suggestions.
Production of Green Products
Most tend to believe that corporate initiatives are merely about bringing a reduction in the polluting aspects of their operations. But, corporates can (and are) making a great difference with their creation and development of green products. A prime example is Samsung's solar-powered laptop and Intel's solar-powered processor, which were created especially to minimise energy consumption.
Other giants like Nokia have adopted a different route. Nokia intends to rethink the entire product design from scratch whilst being mindful of the impact of their choices. Each and every aspect of producing a device (such as product design, product components, and packaging) are overseen by environmental engineers, who make sure that each and every Nokia products are 'greener’ than its competitors.
Associating with companies that produce green products
Apart from creating green products, companies can also focus on associating themselves with companies that prioritize sustainability. These could be companies that are involved in corporate social responsibility or are engaged in producing products based on green technology. Panasonic is one of the few companies that focus on sustainability at the grassroots level and it’s hardly a surprise that corporations prefer associating with Panasonic for their projects. For instance, in the Aeon Mall in Jakarta Garden City Panasonic supplied its solar cell modules for the installation of the mall rooftop. One can also appreciate the Reforestation for Natural Classroom in Thailand, where Panasonic collaborated with The Foundation of Environmental Education for Sustainable Developent (FEED). Why wouldn’t one want to associate themselves with a company such as Panasonic considering their unwavering commitment towards sustainable development?
Other notable companies in this sphere are Walmart, Apple, Ikea, etc. In the year 2015, Ikea announced its investment of 1 billion euros in sustainability efforts that include buying renewable energy to power its stores and offices, while also implementing sustainable manufacturing. This is commendable in the corporate world as companies seldom invest such huge sums.
Corporations have a dedicated CSR budget, which is used to give back to the community. CSR can also lead to sustainable action.
For example, Xerox is known for their participation in initiatives like the Green World Alliance in the electronic industry citizen coalition and the well-known Xerox Community Involvement Programme (XCIP). And, on the other hand, we have Hitachi. Hitachi - as a part of its approach to sustainability - has already announced its long-term environmental targets and has held workshops in order to scale up SDGs and business activities on that front. The company has received 9 awards for world-leading innovative research. Considering most companies have CSR programs, it’s just a matter of ensuring that they include sustainability programs.
When LEGO started the Sustainable Materials Center, the objective was to find alternatives to plastic materials used. And after investing $155 million in it, LEGO is closer to finding an answer. If LEGO is able to find a solution, not only will it reduce the carbon footprint of making toys, it would also have a far-reaching effect on how we use plastic. As an environmentally conscious company, those of us at ThinkPhi relentlessly aim to be sustainable in every possible way. In fact, the main emphasis of our product, the ‘Smart Canopy’ is to encourage sustainability in society.