Businesses need to develop a sustainability plan if they want to effectively combat issues such as climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, having a plan for sustainability practices can improve a brand's public reputation, efficiency, and bottom line.
What is a Business Sustainability Plan?
A business sustainability plan is a document that is developed by a company to accomplish operational goals while being sensitive to environmental, financial, and societal sustainability issues. In other words, it is a business strategy designed to achieve company objectives sustainably.
Taking care of the environment is a global issue and any organization that uses public reserves and resources should be responsible for them. This issue has resonated particularly with younger and environmentally conscious shoppers, driving popular retailers such as H&M to launch sustainable lines of clothing.
Contrary to some beliefs, businesses that establish environmentally safe practices can simultaneously promote profits. There are hundreds of companies around the world that continue to grow their revenue while using sustainability methods.
Aside from global corporations, small and medium-sized businesses can also save money while employing sustainability plans. Profitable benefits to launching sustainability initiatives include cultivating respect, maintaining a good public reputation, and promoting good environmental stewardship.
Benefits of Developing a Sustainability Plan
Developing a sustainability plan has many moral and financial benefits for businesses. These can include-
- Reducing Energy Use - Cutting back on the amount of energy that a business uses can save money and reduce waste. This can be done by using energy-efficient appliances, installing automatic water taps, and using LED light bulbs. Businesses can also reduce energy use by asking employees to turn off lights or developing a workplace carpool to cut down on carbon emissions.
- Advancing Public Health - Business sustainability plans can go a long way to creating a healthier environment, which directly impacts public health. Changes that reduce gas emissions and improve the air will have a positive impact on people's health and can inspire higher public health standards.
- Industry Leadership - Companies with established business sustainability plans should advocate for changes in their industry and community. Encouraging other organizations to embrace environmentally-friendly policies will create a positive future for everyone.
- Attract a New Audience - Businesses that develop sustainability plans often attract environmentally conscious customers. This can be a public relations win that can improve a brand's value. Therefore, it is important to let consumers know about sustainable policies to capitalize on this competitive advantage.
5 Steps for Developing a Sustainability Plan
Creating a sustainability plan doesn't have to be complicated. However, it is a good idea to go beyond regulatory compliance to demonstrate to customers and the public that sustainability is a priority for the business.
The following 5 steps can help organizations to create an effective business sustainability plan.
1. Learn about Sustainability
The first step to developing a solid sustainability plan is to understand what sustainability is all about. There is information available through the Internet and guides published by reputable organizations and the government.
A business sustainability plan is more than just making green choices. It involves considering the long-term impacts of business decisions and processes. This requires a shift in perspective that considers the business, economy, and households.
A sustainable mindset sees these three elements as connected with the environment rather than as separate entities.
2. Assess Current Business Practices
The next step is to discover areas in the business that can be improved. To do this, organizations should research local laws and industry regulations. Understanding the standards that are already in place can unveil shortcomings in a company.
Sustainability plans for businesses should focus on bringing the company into compliance with current laws. To protect profits, investigate cost-efficient ways to bring practices into compliance.
In addition, learning more about bigger issues such as climate change, energy crisis, and ecosystem decline may also uncover ways existing practices are contributing to these problems.
3. Identify Opportunities
Creating a successful business sustainability plan requires innovation and creativity to find new opportunities to reduce waste and energy consumption.
Innovation can include incorporating new technologies or it can be uncovering more cost-effective methods. Asking employees for their input can lead to innovative solutions that improve business sustainability.
Discovering sustainable opportunities also requires some self-reflection. Companies may also want to reflect on the sustainability levels of their partnerships.
4. Create Objectives
No business can attempt to tackle all global sustainability issues at once. Rather, a solid sustainability plan requires focus and continued effort. Select one or two areas where the business can make a positive impact.
Depending on the nature of the company, a separate sustainability vision may be needed for each department. Be specific about the objectives for the business in the sustainability plan.
It is also important to include details about the sustainability model the company will be adopting. This can help employees to understand their individual responsibilities in achieving organizational sustainability goals.
5. Make Changes
The final step in creating a business sustainability plan is to implement the changes. This includes communicating the plan with employees and other stakeholders.
Businesses will also need to update policies so they align with the new environmentally conscious objectives. Management should also define metrics and key performance indicators to measure and track the success of sustainability initiatives.
Businesses should ensure that there is data to support all claims of environmentally conscious efforts, as these figures will be useful when publicizing the effectiveness of the business sustainability plan.