In encouraging green living, companies are looking at shrinking their carbon footprint, reducing energy and fuel consumption, utilisation of more renewable and sustainable resources and recycling or reduction in waste.
Ranju Kumar Mohan
Find alternatives to driving whenever possible by taking public transport, by telecommuting, carpooling, walking or biking while doing errands to keep the air and yourself fit and healthy.”
This is one of the tips you find on Toyota’s Web site which has a worldwide environmental policy affecting every aspect of its operations.
Many companies today have realised the importance of social and environmental responsibility. They are under pressure from all their stakeholders to ensure the sustainable development of their businesses.
Sustainable development is also becoming a global challenge. The UN defines sustainable development as development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
The growing needs of an ever-growing population is putting pressure on key resources such as water and energy. Al Gore, winner of the Nobel Prize, and author of An Inconvenient Truth has been able to create global awareness of climate change.
Sustainable consumption is gaining importance among a growing segment of consumers. There is an ‘increasing willingness’ to pay for products that are perceived to have personal health benefits, such as organic food and natural cosmetics.
Consumers today are willing to help in the fight against climate change. In the UK, two-thirds of consumers are likely to purchase products of a company that is seen to be taking action to manage climate change.
Companies are launching long-term initiatives to take care of the environment as they realise that by doing business in a socially responsible manner alone can they ensure the long-term success of their organisations. Many companies are forming entrepreneurial teams that are focused on all aspects of business and include experts from the field, academics, NGOs, Government agencies and suppliers. It is all about the planet, people and profits. Retailers go green
Environment-friendly retailers are looking at ways to meet the green consumer’s needs and aspirations. These companies have a clear commitment and are incorporating a green ethos across all activities of their organisations.
In encouraging green living, companies are looking at four key areas to reduce their impact on the environment. These are: Shrinking their carbon footprint; reduction in energy and fuel consumption; utilisation of more renewable and sustainable resources; and recycling or reduction in waste.
In the case of retail companies, it (sustainability) is about the choice of products and the way in which they are manufactured, packed and transported.
Tesco is the first supermarket to have announced the introduction of the ‘carbon label’ (= carbon dioxide generation) for all the products it sells; this links the product’s contribution to global warming.
Wal-Mart in Canada buys green power generated from renewable sources such as wind and solar power.
Coca-Cola has reduced product packaging by almost 33 per cent by cutting down on the quantity of raw materials used including aluminium, plastic and glass. The packs are therefore lighter and the company has also been able to save millions of dollars on transportation.
Companies are developing products that have a low carbon footprint and are also recycling materials, using lesser energy and water and reducing emissions. Henkel has set itself clear goals to reduce energy consumption by 15 per cent, water consumption by 10 per cent and waste by 10 per cent in the next five years. It is developing products that will contribute to the conservation of resources. Business groups are coming together to find new solutions and are forging partnerships to control carbon emissions and ensure sustainability.
Unilever, Nestle, Tesco and Sainsbury’s have established a Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) that would certify the production of palm oil from non-destructive plantations. The production of palm oil had become a death warrant for orang-utans due to the deforestation of rain forests to expand palm oil production in countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia. On May 1, 2008, Unilever decided to use palm oil that was certified as sustainable. Tata Chemicals has set up an innovation centre to discover a new set of businesses for the future which must all pass the ‘Green Screen’ and be sustainable.Marketing green consumerism
Marketers have already identified green consumerism as a trend but they will have to understand this segment of consumers better and develop products and services that will appeal to them.
Many companies are developing a range of green labels to benefit from the trend and are increasing their marketing on these products.
Companies are also launching eco-friendly products made without volatile organic compounds that don’t contain hazardous solvents, toxic chemicals or harmful ingredients and are usually made from renewable, plant-derived ingredients.
Unilever’s Surf Excel quick wash brand with a low-rinse wash saves water. In the US, the trend is to introduce detergents with higher concentrates which not only saves water but also reduces the usage of packing material and is easy to store and transport.
Reckitt’s ‘Save Energy Save Water’ project encourages consumers to optimise the use of products and reduce energy consumption and the wastage of resources like water.
However, there are companies that have tried to leverage green trends without being sincere in what they really do. Who can the consumer trust? Which brands does the consumer believe in? Consumers today are willing to trust those brands that speak truthfully about their activities.
The sustainability ‘movement’ is gathering momentum and is reaching the tipping point. For the companies, it is all about finding solutions that are both environment-friendly and economically viable. For the consumers, it is about being able to do something for the planet, to reduce their impact on it and preserve it for future generations. Does it require any more thought that practising sustainability means good business?