“I started viewing every firm as a healthcare firm because every firm is affecting our overall wellness.” – Urvashi Bhatnagar
On this episode of the EnvironMental Podcast we kept coming back to how big of a gamechanger this book could be for sustainability in business if it is put into action throughout a supply chain.
What is Sustainability in Business?
Building sustainability into your business means something different for every type and maturity of a company.
A brand new company has the opportunity to build sustainability into their brand from the start. This means making choices that start by limiting your options to the sustainable ones first.
A company that is a couple years old and just starting on their journey to building sustainable practices into their business does have some work to do – but if you haven’t hit hyper-growth yet, it could be a simple enough transition. With every new choice, limit your options to the sustainable ones. Hunt through your current operations and figure out how to close the loop throughout your supply chain.
A business that is mature and that has been operating with a linear scope for a long time, or that is disconnected from their supply chain, has a lot of opportunities to make changes for good. Older businesses may have the biggest struggle to move toward sustainability, but they’re typically the most entrenched in their network, and they could have the largest sustainable impact overall.
Regardless of how old or mature a business is, it is possible to focus on adding sustainable business practices to any business.
How to Build a Sustainable Business
It’s a myth that building a sustainable business is more difficult than building without sustainability in mind. When building a sustainable business, it’s a matter of sticking to the four principles for managing and scaling sustainability and working to close the loop. Both of these are topics in The Sustainability Scorecard!
Four Principles for Managing and Scaling Sustainability in Business
When you’re building sustainability into your business, it’s important to think about the whole lifecycle of your products. That includes your product design, supply chain, packaging, marketing, and end of life for each product.
1. Waste prevention – waste prevention should be considered throughout the design phase. This ensures that waste isn’t an afterthought or something to deal with after the fact.
2. Maximizing efficiency and performance – Urvashi talked about this as one of the most important parts of the four principles. We need to be redefining what “performance” means – and ensure that social and environmental sustainability is a part of these decisions.
3. Renewable inputs – design out the use of fossil fuels. This includes making moves towards using less (preferably zero) virgin plastics and using renewable energies to make your products and source your ingredients.
4. Safe degradation – the graveyard of your products should be considered and designed around in the design phase.
Most importantly, sustainable businesses close the loop on their internal and external relationships.
Closing the loop
In this podcast, and throughout The Sustainability Scorecard, Urvashi talks about the importance of closing the loop for sustainability in business.
Closing the loop means more than ensuring that the supply chain, procurement, and finance are working well together. It also means connecting the businesses’ top down messaging with bottom up action and breaking down the silos between departments within an organization. R&D should be a real time conversation that influences upcoming product designs along with development, operations, marketing and communications.
Then, just taking these steps isn’t enough. When it comes to building sustainability into a business, communicating the changes you want to make is vital. Don’t fall into the green hush! You also need to communicate the steps and the solutions you’re putting in place with your audience so they know what you’re doing to hit your sustainability goals.
The Sustainability Scorecard Book
Would we recommend this book? If you want to build sustainability into your business, YES. Get this book right now.
Pick up your copy of the Sustainability Scorecard here: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/678206/the-sustainability-scorecard-by-urvashi-bhatnagar-and-paul-anastas/
We aren’t going to tell you it’s a quick or simple read, you’ll want to go slowly through the chapters and truly understand how to add sustainability into your business.
You can find Urvashi at the Greenovation website: https://www.greenovationproject.com/. Keep an eye on their site, because there are new projects coming down the pipeline from Urvashi and her co-author, Paul.