Do Sustainability and Environmental Management Guarantee Success?

6 January, 2021

When it comes to the discussion of sustainability and environmental management ‘guaranteeing’ success, I prefer to be a realist.

The truth is that no system can work without several factors combining to support it, and that can be through people, culture change, financial backing, and more.

I certainly don’t believe that there are any guarantees for success, but there are actions that you can make to steer the ship in the right direction. In this article, I’m going to discuss ten ideas that can push you towards success.

Using Senior Management to Educate and Engage the Workforce

If you really want to achieve KPIs pertaining to sustainability and environmental management, it’s vital to use the authority and influence of Senior Management to do so. By enforcing positive policy changes, or simply by leading from the front, those at the top of the company can have a profound effect on the rest. This is not only for sustainability and the environment, but it can also work for many aspects of a business.

Keep on Top of Your Legal Registers

I’ve covered this in another article, but the importance of having up to date legal registers, and regularly accessing them to make sure you understand the terms of compliance, is a great way to ensure continued success. Not being compliant can cause so many hurdles and impediments to success that it’s not worth pleading ignorance.

Seeing Waste as a Resource

Waste is a great resource, full of potential, and its uses are not being maximised by most businesses. What many businesses fail to see is that if used right, waste can generate cash, energy, or great benefits to an organisation’s reputation. At the other end of the spectrum, poor waste habits can be costly and damaging to reputation. Small changes can have big results in the waste stream.

Seeing ‘Zero Waste’ as a Mindset and Not a Finish Line

Achieving Zero Waste status is fantastic, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not the point of Zero Waste. The point of Zero Waste is to bring about wider culture change and the more that people talk about Zero Waste and the methods and benefits, the more it can become mainstream. More than trying to achieve Zero Waste, your business should be talking about it with employees, partners, suppliers and customers, to show that it is a mindset and not a goal.

Give People Solutions, Not Problems

For many people, they come to work, they do their work, and then they leave. They don’t want to get caught up in sustainability strategy and environmental management. So, how do you subconsciously engage them? You fix the problem, you give them the solution, and you prove how the new method is easier and better than the previous one. Some people don’t want more problems than they already have.

Big Goals Inspire Change, Marginal Goals Don’t

Aiming to reduce your carbon footprint by 1% a year for 10 years is quite insignificant and will not inspire your workforce to make drastic behavioural changes. It also won’t inspire people in facilities, procurement, and other departments to assess how they work and make more earth-friendly decisions. Making a massive statement goal, like 50% carbon reduction in 5 years, will bring about a revolution, and even if you don’t hit that goal, you will do a lot for the sustainability of the organisation.

Embed Sustainable Thinking from Bottom to Top

Different from point number one, I’m talking more now about products and services. All products and services should be thoroughly vetted for sustainable behaviour and decision making. This can mean looking at the materials used in the supply chain, it could look at the carbon footprint and road miles of deliveries, it could simply mean recycling better in your premises. If sustainable thought has gone into all products and services, it’s a good indicator to customers and stakeholders that you are a caring business.

Employing Methods That Allow for Scalability

It’s no good if a good idea can’t be replicated and scaled throughout the organisation. To use your time and resources effectively, you should try and seek tools and processes that can be learned and embedded at all levels.

Introduce Incentives for the Supply Chain

A great way to ensure long-term success for your business is to improve the quality and sustainability of the products and services in your supply chain. Saying that, it’s not always easy to improve what you are currently getting, without changing suppliers. If you can find ways to incentivise your supply chain to make more sustainable decisions and improve the environmental performance of their operations, it will multiply the positive effect it has on your business.

Work With an Environmental Consultant… Like Me!

Having someone to keep an eye on what your business is doing is a great way to guarantee success in all sorts of areas, from sustainable decisions to compliance. By not having someone in your organisation keeping an eye on environmental management systems and sustainability, you fall prey to the broken mentality of ‘but we’ve always done it this way’. Having this mentality does not bode well for sustainability.


Have these ten concepts helped you?

Is there more you could be doing to ‘guarantee’ the long-term success and sustainability of your business?

If you need help going in the right direction, contact me here!!

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