How to move to a sustainable business model – Part 2

Today’s post is about two more basic steps to achieving a successful transition to a sustainable business model. (See my post of 20 February for the first two steps.)

Step 3: Play the long game

The manufacturing sector is increasingly recognising the need to move from the current “take-make-waste” industrial system – which dumps huge amounts of often toxic waste back into our resource base – to a “borrow-use-replenish” economic model. The latter means copying the “closed-loop” systems of nature by returning the by-products of our extraction and use of raw materials either to the economy for future use or to nature as nutrients.

Your sustainability plan will need to contain a route map for achieving this model. (Our case study Carpet company undertakes mission to become a restorative enterprise describes how a US carpet manufacturer is doing it.)

If you are running a service company, your brand is a precious asset. In today’s social-media-driven world, a brand reputation that has taken a long time to build can be damaged very quickly indeed.

More and more consumers are going to want to know the details of the environmental footprint of your brand and services. So you need to have intimate knowledge of the practices and environmental impacts of your suppliers, as well as those of your own business.

Step 4: Make sustainability everyone’s responsibility

A sustainability plan that is isolated in the organisation is unlikely to make much impact. The best sustainability plans are integrated into the DNA of the business. For instance, you could incorporate sustainability performance into your company’s cash bonus schemes. Or you could embark on a full-blown change management programme.

Such approaches will bring sustainability into the heart of your business. This, coupled with the leadership stance I outlined in Step 1: Show commitment, will cement the perception that sustainability is an important issue for your organisation.

Integrating sustainability into your business means redefining your organisation’s view of what internal success looks like. Reward and recognise your staff for contributing to the success of your sustainable business model.

Read my next post for the fifth and sixth steps to achieving a successful transition. And for further information or advice about business and environmental sustainability, please email me or call me on 020 7099 2621.