Yesterday I outlined some of the risks to business from the resource crunch, as described in the Carbon Trust’s report Opportunities in a Resource Constrained World.
The report profiles several businesses that it considers to be good examples – big companies that are taking a proactive approach to sustainability. Most companies are reactive, waiting for legislation to force them to adopt sustainability measures. Others will take on efficiency measures when they see cost savings. The way the Carbon Trust see it, the most pioneering companies put sustainability at the heart of their business and use it to build reputation and revenue. Here are three doing just that:
- Whitbread owns brands such as Costa and Premier Inns. They invest £4 million a year in energy efficiency measures and have carried out detailed analysis into their energy and materials use. Each section of the business has sustainability targets as well as financial targets to meet, leading to a 23% reduction in carbon emissions. New hotels have water saving features from the start and older ones are being retrofitted with rainwater catchment and greywater systems, yielding a 22% fall in water use. A zero waste to landfill by 2017 goal is making good progress, with a 93% reduction from its restaurants and hotels.
- Stagecoach is a major transport group, running 13,000 buses and trains every day in Britain, the US and Canada. They have pioneered alternative transport techniques and experiment with new technology, such as regenerative braking on trains, or electric hybrid buses. Bus drivers get real-time feedback on their fuel efficiency to encourage the best driving practices. Overall, the company has so far reduced its carbon intensity by 30%.
- BT are a communication company and have duly pioneered flexible working with staff to reduce office overheads, and video conferencing to avoid flying. They are also interested in extending sustainability beyond the company through customers and suppliers. Through an awards scheme, suppliers can earn Bronze, Silver or Gold status by reducing material use and making things recyclable – particularly on its key consumer products such as the BT Homehub. It has so far reduced operating emissions by 44% and waste to landfill by 40%. Ultimately BT aims to reduce its carbon intensity by 80% by 2020, a rare example of a business aiming for genuine one-planet sustainability.
Those are three big corporations profiled in the report. I’ve previously mentioned the clothing company Rapanui, Patagonia, Puma, Maersk, and a number of other companies that demonstrate that environmental responsibility does not need to be the enemy of profit.