Sustainability means meeting the needs of the present without compromising future generations and their needs.
In business, this means finding more efficient ways of performing day-to-day operations with less environmental impact.
What if your organization could improve sustainability without spending more or taking any additional time or resources?
What if your organization was able to eliminate the use of landfills and save money at the same time?
Most organizations treat their waste streams as a cost of doing business rather than as a potential revenue stream and a way to increase sustainability. Yet there are opportunities for cost savings, new revenue and a chance to significantly minimize most organizations’ environmental impact and increase sustainability.
Experienced environmental consultants can help organizations obtain these goals, gaining a win-win solution for the budget and the environment.
The benefits of sustainability can be measured across three dimensions: people, profits and the planet. This triple bottom line approach becomes the framework for understanding the financial and environmental impact of business decisions.
Sustainability creates business value in several ways:
< Lowers operational costs – By focusing on improving sustainability, less money will be spent on disposal of waste streams, and revenue may be generated by improved recycling efforts.
< Increases sales – It is generally favorable among consumers to buy products from companies putting more of an effort in being green and sustainable.
< Improved employee engagement – Organizations with sustainability initiatives attract higher quality employees, which reduces turnover. High quality employees result in higher productivity and engagement, the backbone to any successful business.
< Risk reduction – Organizations can reduce the risk of having an accident or receiving fines, which also reduces the associated risk of bad publicity. Local communities want to know that the organizations they deal with on a day-to-day basis are being environmentally responsible.
One organization, a pharmaceutical packaging company with multiple locations, became more environmentally friendly by employing numerous recycling options, all while being cost-conscious:
< One facility now is landfill free. No disposed material goes to a landfill. The waste material that is fed into its trash compactor goes to a waste-to-energy facility that helps to power many business and residential facilities. This option saved the company 50 percent on its overall trash waste stream.
< The organization was baling its cardboard and receiving a rebate for the material. Another outlet was identified for the cardboard material that resulted in this material being handled less by their employees, all while providing a higher rebate for the cardboard.
< Recycling solutions were identified for all other materials, including scrap metal, plastic pill bottles, outdated material and wood waste. All solutions increased sustainability while lowering costs for disposal for some waste streams and generating revenue by improving recycling for other streams.
Accomplishing the win-win results of increasing sustainability while lowering costs requires a fresh and comprehensive review of all waste streams that starts early in the process.
In many organizations, there is not one particular person who owns responsibility for the waste streams, processes and costs. An experienced environmental consultant can take a holistic view of an organization.
Specifics to examine include what’s in the waste stream and how can it be optimized, disposal logistics, hauler billing and marketing pricing for recycling commodities and general waste disposal. In many cases, benefits can be realized with minimal impact on the organization and daily operations.
Can your organization increase sustainability and save money? For most organizations, the answer is yes.
Gene Waltz is executive vice president at Edge Insights (www.edgeinsights.com), an operational cost management firm in Wyomissing. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 610-898-7112.