As we settle into 2020, it’s never been more clear that environmental activism is having a noticeable impact on how organisations operate, invest and brand themselves.
You don’t have to look far to find evidence. From fast food giants developing plant-based meat alternatives and retailers phasing out single-use plastics, to the increasingly significant investments reported by carbon offsetting organisations, it’s hard to deny that sustainability and environmental-friendliness are now important parts of business. Parts that can offer considerable ROI in many cases.
And while much of this very recent progress is attributable to the work of Greta Thunberg and her proponents, we must recognise that neither environmental activism nor green business initiatives are anything new. Just as long as there have been those urging us to consider the social impacts of modern business practices, there have also been forward thinking organisations investing in the development of sustainable processes and less harmful supply chains.
A Shift In Attitudes
However, I do also think that there has been a palpable shift in attitudes toward climate change in the past few years, and this has clearly spilled over into business.
Until recently, many of the aforementioned organisations simply saw themselves as the first movers who would be financially rewarded for their timely investment in alternative energy sources. Take solar power for example. Then there were those who saw any investment in new, greener processes and technology as a necessary evil for future-proofing themselves and ensuring compliance with inevitable legislative changes.
In both cases, neither brand equity nor public perception were front of mind. And why would they have been? With the exception of a few businesses who had built their whole brand on ‘ethical’ practices (take Patagonia for example), most businesses’ consumers, supply chain partners and stakeholders just weren’t particularly fussed about their shiny new green credentials.
Fast forward to 2020 and oh how things have changed. Today, companies of all sizes are realising that there’s more to sustainability than ad-hoc campaigns and charitable donations. In a world that’s never been more connected, vocal, and engaged with brands, B2B and B2C organisations alike can carve out competitive advantages and create efficiencies by weaving sustainability into their daily operations and taking small but meaningful steps to mitigate their impact on the environment.
At BurrBaxter, we know this all too well. For instance, we have seen first-hand how the widespread adoption of online shopping and movement away from bricks and mortar stores has led to an increase in the volume of deliveries and returns that companies must make on a daily basis. With this naturally comes an increase in both emissions and in the demand for shipping labels, return labels, dispatch notes and advice notes - something we happily provide in the most environmentally-friendly manner possible.
A Practical Approach
Fortunately, there are many operational areas in which organisations can have their cake and eat it too. They need not necessarily compromise profitability or growth in order to reduce their impact on the environment in meaningful ways.
For example take Missguided, L’Oreal and Superdrug. These are all brands who in working with BurrBaxter, have realised that they can minimise their carbon footprint while meeting their operational and administrative needs.
And while the ultimate aim is for companies to one day phase out first-use paper altogether (something we’re proudly helping to facilitate in the long term with true recycled and environmentally pure material), the reality is that there remain many areas of fulfilment, logistics and business administration where this is neither practical nor possible.
But this doesn’t mean businesses should shirk away from their responsibility. Instead, businesses should seek secure and effective alternatives to inefficient and / or environmentally damaging systems and processes. These might be digital, such as our secure electronic payslip solutions which reduce unnecessary paper use, or they could be something tangible such as switching to specialised packaging that does away with unnecessary wastage and processing.
In any case, the key is that businesses shift away from all or nothing thinking and recognise that lasting change is the result of small but meaningful changes at process level.
At a time when companies have been increasingly exposed for green-washing themselves into consumers’ good books, this is more important than ever before. In fact, I’m convinced that it is only those who actively invest in eco-conscious operations who really stand a chance of meeting their long-term carbon neutrality targets., which will become increasingly necessary.
After all, the only thing better than offsetting carbon is creating fewer unnecessary emissions in the first place. Then, and only then, will our ‘sustainability’ truly be sustainable.
BurrBaxter is a proudly environmentally-friendly company specialising in a wide range of print areas including operational print, transactional print, computer print, laser and impact. We also specialise in pressure seal paper and payslips, pressure seal machines, e-payslips, transaction print, logistics forms and labels.
To find out more about our eco-conscious operational print and secure digital payslip solutions, please get in touch .