How large corporations can ensure a meaningful and continuing impact of their sustainability efforts

Egyptian youth volunteers collect waste and plastic as part of a campaign to clean up the Nile River sponsored by Egypt's environment ministry in cooperation with VeryNile and Greenish, in Cairo, Egypt February 10, 2019. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
  • Planet earth is not in the best shape. Our excessive consumption and our pattern of using and disposing is taking its toll on the environment.
  • In recent times, we have seen a tremendous surge in environmental awareness.
  • It is imperative for large corporations everywhere to be even more focused on sustainability efforts and responsible consumption in their businesses.

It’s a fact - our planet is not in its best shape. Our excessive consumption and our pattern of using and disposing is taking its toll on the environment, overloading landfills and increasing our dependence on scarce resources.

But it is not all doom and gloom. In recent times, we have seen a tremendous surge in environmental awareness. More people are shifting to more eco-friendly habits, many cities are introducing plans to ban single-use plastics and there is in general, greater awareness in reducing one’s personal patterns of consumption to minimise waste.

However, to make a meaningful impact, everyone should play an even more active role in driving sustainability at scale.

It is imperative for large corporations everywhere to be even more focused on sustainability efforts and responsible consumption in their businesses. It is no longer enough to merely sell a product or a service. Today’s socially-aware consumers want brands that are unafraid to take a stand: to lead the way in influencing behaviours and offering solutions to pressing issues.

For corporations that are seeking ways to inspire and lead environmental sustainability efforts that will have a lasting impact, here are three ways to get started.

When companies create innovative, environmentally friendly products, customers will want to use them because the products align with their personal earth-friendly consumption principles. Many brands are beginning to innovate to have as minimal an environmental impact as possible.

Importantly, we must do our part to inspire consumers to make the educated switch by offering them superior products that help to save the world’s resources at the same time.

Civic infrastructure must support innovation for sustainability efforts to be effective. The term “circular economy” is more than an industry buzzword. To make a meaningful and sustainable impact on a large scale, this is what all parties should strive to achieve through the entire supply chain from production to consumption.

In the production process, this requires thinking differently about the type of materials used and how they are sourced, the manufacturing work process - such as waste management and water use - and the distribution and transport of products.

During consumption, circularity requires an integrated waste management system including a new civic infrastructure which allows the transformation of the current consumption patterns of “consume and dispose” to “consume, collect, recycle and reuse”.

Global sustainability is a goal that no single company can achieve alone. It is essential to collaborate closely and form strategic alliances and partnerships with other innovators, suppliers, retailers, governments, NGOs and businesses to achieve a multiplier, scalable effect.

The world is facing its moment of reckoning now but, together, we have a fighting chance to be a bigger and better part of the solutions. With my peers and colleagues in large corporations all around the world, we stand in support of this and assume leadership to drive sustainability at scale in any and every way possible.

Magesvaran Suranjan is the President, P&G Asia Pacific, India Subcontinent, Middle East & Africa. He has served as the President of Asia Pacific Selling and Market Operations at The Procter & Gamble Company since November 2015 and as a Director of Procter & Gamble Australia Proprietary Limited from December 1, 2015, until June 30, 2018.

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