If there is one truth millennials hold to be self-evident, it’s that big business is bad. And you can’t help but wonder, listening to the noise on social media, whether corporations can ever do anything right.
The ground is shifting in business management and how companies generally fit into modern capitalist economies. Now, more than ever, businesses have to rethink their role as social and political actors and their economic functions.
Sustainable offerings are growing. And it's no secret that the ultimate corporate currency is loyalty. Businesses continuously seek to engage in responsible practices that give customers a reason to like them and find common ground with shared values.
Technological, demographic, and macroeconomic disruptions are reshaping our economy and society – and stakeholders are demanding change. Consumers want safety, privacy and environmental responsibility. Employees require a stronger sense of purpose and rewards.
We live in an age when the reputation of business is under siege. Society’s demands have escalated dramatically. Corporate purpose and values are becoming increasingly important because internal and external pressures force companies to move in this direction.
Twenty years ago, corporate activists called for environmental protection and labour rights. Now, they demand action on a complex array of ecological, political, social and economic issues.
So, how do businesses address these concerns effectively?
Responsibility finds a way
Firstly, we must realise that they will always be held to a higher standard, perhaps unjustly so, but that is still a reality.
Business has long played a role in society. From Roman and Medieval times, wealthy landowners provided housing, security and food for their workers. To the cooperative movement in the 1800s which started off by providing affordable food and necessities and expanded into education and other social activities.
Many notable companies started out in the nineteenth century with a strong social outlook - Macy’s and DuPont in the US, Krupp in Germany, Cadbury’s in the U.K. Macy’s funded orphanages. DuPont supported schools, construction and new highways. Krupp set up extensive employee welfare programmes. And Cadbury’s famously provided housing and education to their employees in Bournville
But climate change has conjured a new story that can galvanise the largest "we" in human history. How fast can we change our strategies and tactics to excel at solving the world’s challenges profitably?
Will we have the skills to manage this blended mission of traditional financial value and societal change? We’ve begun a new game, and the current leaders are creating a path to a better, more resilient, and more profitable way of doing business.
A circular economy is designed to feed back into itself: A product of long-lasting quality is placed into the market; the by-products from its manufacturing are repurposed, and the retired product is reused as much as it possibly can be. This rebuilds capital and enhances the flow of goods and services while bringing a manufacturer as close as possible to a zero-waste goal.
Consumer goods in the linear economy are manufactured with planned obsolescence in mind - they are designed to become outdated or wear out in order to push a new generation of product or sell a replacement. The overwhelming majority of consumer goods today are built this way – we call it Darth Vader design and the marketing empire.
A natural consequence of planned obsolescence is massive waste - wasted product when it’s thrown away and wasted energy used to produce more goods to replace the aged and broken ones.
Environmental compliance data should be the nectar of any circular economy, for the part of you that thinks big business can't do the right thing.
For a growing number of businesses, the lines between corporate profits, NGO values and government standards are blurring – and that’s a good thing. Gone are the days when a company’s job was done once a customer had a satisfactory product. And for those that have a formal sustainability plan already in place, the bar for being ecologically and socially accountable is rising.
Direction more important than speed
At Ecoveritas, we see it as a mandate to look across the entire business for misinterpreted or undervalued optimisation opportunities from greener products to eco-friendlier deliveries to green loyalty programs. And there’s room to create a differentiated experience that’s good for the planet and good for the bottom line.
That’s why we’re introducing our ‘Packaging Compass’ to support companies who wish to move towards a more sustainable packaging portfolio.
Using your packaging compliance data, we can help you understand your current packaging sustainability, how you compare to others and direct you to optimise your packaging performance.
To get you moving in a sustainable direction, we help you to address the following four points:
- Packaging Position: Utilises packaging compliance data to understand the baseline packaging sustainability in terms of weight, carbon footprint, recyclability, recycled content etc. Looks at your aims and ambitions, scope and values.
- Market Position: Identifying how you compare to your competitors in terms of ambitions and packaging performance. Considers wider influences such as regulations, voluntary agreements and NGO campaigns.
- Stakeholder Position: Works with your team to set an achievable packaging direction, gain supply chain insight and ensure strategy buy-in.
- Route Position: Provides data-driven packaging KPIs, prioritises options for packaging environmental improvements and supports in establishing partners to take the next steps. All communicated to your wider stakeholders.
Our generation has the unique opportunity to reconcile the paradox between progress for all and a sustainable future for our planet, thanks to a step change in efficiency.
We talk a lot about reducing consumption, buying less and buying better quality products when it is necessary to make a purchase. And a life less throwaway is the holy grail for those prioritising quality over quantity.
Businesses like ours exist as a vital resource for those looking to understand how to connect materials with manufacturing and the means of distribution and consumption. We help companies harness the power of knowing what they don’t know regarding environmental compliance data.
Reduce, reuse, and recycle is the standard cradle-to-grave manufacturing model dating back to the Industrial Revolution that we still follow today. Extended Producer Responsibility proposes striving to create value instead of minimising waste. This is the essence of Cradle to Cradle: waste need not exist at all.
Despite a backdrop of uncertainty, the packaging industry has continued to innovate, create and try things that could impact the future. With brands and retailers showing no signs of relaxing their sustainable targets, it’s been up to packaging specialists to respond – and they have done just that.