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  • Writer's pictureRuwan

Sustainability... Your next competitive advantage

It's being fast dug-out from the 'CSR box' and given a whole life of it's own. Environmental sustainability is fast becoming the new competitive advantage for a wide variety of companies - and we couldn't be more excited!

Countless organisations have recently made a conscious shift to implement sustainable strategies; paying greater attention towards reducing supply chain emissions and reducing their carbon footprints. While some of their attempts have been less than perfect...they’re still trying, right? Whether it’s a hit or miss, it is obvious that corporations, big and small, know that sustainable initiatives are necessary for them to implement going forward.

Here, we take a look at how sustainability is making it to centre-stage for brands around the world...

Starting with one well-known brand that probably doesn't immediately spring to mind on the Greta-approved list, Burger King. Their latest environmental initiative is to create a low-methane burger, claiming that the beef in its Whopper burger now comes from cows that excrete 33% less methane, as part of an initiative to reduce the environmental impact of beef. According to a press release, Burger King teamed up with scientists to test a new diet which causes cows to emit less of the greenhouse gas. They also produced a truly hilarious commercial to go with it!

On another note, German automotive giant Volkswagen will become the largest manufacturer of EVs before 2030, according to new analysis from Wood Mackenzie. WoodMac, global energy, chemicals, renewables, metals and mining research and consultancy group, expects Volkswagen to produce 14 million battery electric vehicles (BEVs) cumulatively by 2028, and climb from its 2018 ranking as the 10th largest manufacturer to the very top of the global pile.

In the land of technology, Dell is also making new commitments when it comes to recycling. By 2030, the company plans to reuse or recycle an equivalent product for every device that a customer buys. It is also pledging that, by then, at least half of all the materials used in its products will be “recycled or renewable,” and 100% of packaging will be recycled or reusable.

“We believe that this is a business critical initiative,” Christine Fraser, Dell’s chief responsibility officer, tells The Verge. “The imperative is really what our customers and our team members expect of us.”

There has been a surge in demand for the corporate sector to step up to the plate in terms of reducing emissions and addressing sustainability at all levels of their business. This demand comes from employees, customers, investors, and in some cases, local governments.

In a recent report, Nielsen compared the performance of sustainability claims in the U.S. based on three product categories- chocolate, coffee, and bath products to better understand consumers’ feelings about aspects of sustainability. For all three categories, dollar sales of items with the specific claims studied grew twice as fast as the weighted average dollar growth of the three categories combined. In other words, products with certain sustainability attributes outperformed the growth rate of total products in their respective categories despite challenges that might have predicted otherwise, like a relatively smaller market share.

NYU Stern’s Center for Sustainable Business just completed extensive research into U.S. consumers’ actual purchasing of consumer packaged goods (CPG), using data contributed by IRI, and found that 50% of CPG growth from 2013 to 2018 came from sustainability-marketed products.

While executives may be reluctant to place sustainability at the forefront of their company’s business strategy in the mistaken belief that the costs outweigh the benefits, academic research and business experience indicates that being more sustainable is beneficial for both companies’ growth and success.

Researchers and scientific journalists at the Harvard Business Review have been studying the sustainability initiatives of 30 large corporations and found that “sustainability is a mother lode of organizational and technological innovations that yield both bottom-line and top line returns.” Implementing sustainability measures reduces costs because companies lower the inputs they use.

According to Toronto-based research company Corporate Knight’s latest data crunching, the world’s most sustainable corporation in 2020 is the Danish renewable energy provider Ørsted. A company that used to produce 85% of its energy from fossil fuels and 15% from renewable energy managed to reverse that in its mission to “essentially become carbon neutral” by 2025. The company’s value has since doubled to US $40 billion.

Chr. Hansen, last year’s top-ranked company, a Danish bioscience company that uses “good bacteria” to provide natural means for preserving food, protecting plants, and reducing overreliance on antibiotics in livestock farming, ranked number two this year. The third ranked company was Finland’s Nestle, the fourth, U.S. technology conglomerate Cisco, and the fifth, American software group Autodesk.

Analysis of the company age and financial performance of the 2020 Global 100 continues to demonstrate that top sustainability performers tend to last longer and perform better for investors than comparable companies. The average age of a Global 100 company is 83 years and the collective group ‘ that companies that put sustainability at their core outlast and outperform the competition’, said Toby Heaps, CEO of Corporate Knights.

The direct business benefits to embracing sustainability are numerous. From saving costs through fuel and resource efficiency, to attracting millennial talent, to making your company more marketable, to securing the long term support of investors...

According to a Fast Company article, in a recent survey, the result of conversations with 1,000 employees at U.S. companies was that more than 70% said that they were more likely to choose to work at a company with a strong environmental agenda. Millennials–who will make up three-quarters of the workforce in six years–are most likely to have done this; nearly 40% said that they’ve chosen a job in the past because the company performed better on sustainability than the alternative!

Research and analysis of company performance has strongly indicated that sustainability is more likely to contribute to a company’s overall success. So, what are you waiting for?

Embarking on your journey into sustainability as an organisation is no easy feat. Depending on your business category, there are a multitude of factors to take into consideration...

A part of the puzzle that can be fairly straightforward through the help of Capture, is building & engaging a planet-friendly workforce. Create a secure in-app company area for your colleagues with Capture, and enjoy insights into carbon emissions, savings from planet-friendly commitments along with leaderboards and monthly reports. Find out more at


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