By Gary Pickford
Sustainability has been near the top of the corporate agenda for many years, as concerns about the impact of businesses on the environment continue to grow.
A recent study by IBM revealed that more than half (51%) of respondents from 10 major economies across the globe claimed that environmental sustainability is more important to them today than it was a year ago.
This increasing focus on sustainability is seeing business leaders having to face the real challenge of maintaining profitability, while still ensuring the welfare of people and the planet. To do this, forward-thinking entities are adopting new strategies and practices to reduce their carbon footprint and promote sustainable development.
The circular economy is an economic model that aims to cut waste to the minimum and promote the use of resources in a sustainable way. It is a massive departure from the traditional linear economy model, where resources are extracted, turned into products, used, and then discarded.
The linear economy model led to the depletion of many of earth’s natural resources, pollution of water and air, and the accumulation of waste, including e-waste. The circular economy model offers a solution to these problems by promoting the efficient use of resources and reducing waste.
In the circular economy, resources are kept in use for as long as possible, waste is reduced, and materials are reused, repaired, recycled, and upcycled. This model is based on three principles: design for circularity, closed-loop systems, and regenerative practices.
The first means designing products and services with the end goal of being able to recover and reuse materials at the end of their life cycle. Closed-loop systems are systems where resources are continuously cycled through production, use, and recovery. The term regenerative practices is used to describe practices that restore and regenerate natural systems, such as regenerative agriculture and reforestation.
The benefits of circular economy model are numerous, and include reducing greenhouse gas emissions, minimising waste, and conserving natural resources. From a social perspective, it can create jobs, support local communities, and promote social equity. If we look at how businesses are embracing this model, some are adopting circular business models that focus on selling solutions as services, instead of physical goods.
Many savvy tech companies, for example, are moving towards an ‘everything-as-a-service’ model, which is enormously sustainable, and reduces carbon footprints at every stage. Other organisations are looking to create closed-loop supply chains that ensure that resources are used to maximum efficiency and waste is trimmed to the bone.
To encourage the circular economy principle in our own business, Tarsus Distribution is an active participant in the Extended Producer Participant (EPR) programme gazetted by government in 2020. This programme ensures the effective and efficient management of electronic equipment that has reached the end of its life-cycle and usually ends up in e-waste sites around the country.
Tarsus Distribution has partnered with an organization called ERA (E-Waste Recycling Authority) who work proactively in ensuring our e-waste sites receive less electronic e-waste as well as less used packaging and plastic e-waste.
Renewable energy is another major trend in sustainability that is driving companies towards a greener future today. With concerns about climate change and the depletion of fossil fuels, many businesses are looking at renewable energy options such as wind, solar, and hydropower to power their operations.
Over and above lowering carbon emissions, using renewable energy can also help save a lot of money in the long run. While the initial costs of installing renewable energy infrastructure can be steep, the ongoing costs of operating and maintaining the system are typically lower than traditional energy sources and end up paying for themselves in a few years.
The energy consumption from the technology products that we distribute are becoming a more importnant selling feature. Business understand that the energy costs in owning and maintaining old equipment can use a lot of power and result in higher energy costs. The demand for more enegry efficient equipment is on the increase.
Another way in which businesses are demonstrating their willingness to reduce their carbon footprint, is by adopting more sustainable packaging. This means using materials that are renewable, biodegradable, and recyclable.
Many businesses are also investigating alternative packaging options that were designed with reducing waste and improving sustainability in mind. For instance, some are using packaging that can be easily disassembled and recycled, while others are developing packaging that is 100% compostable and can even add nutrients to the soil.
It is very encouraging to see how many PC vendors in our I.T Industry have invested in alternative packaging solutions. The innovation in compostable and recyclable packaging has accelerated over the past few years.
Another trend in sustainability that is driving business today, is green buildings. These are buildings that have been purpose-built to be energy-efficient, environmentally responsible, and healthy for the people in them.
In many cases, they incorporate features like grass roofs, solar panels, and rainwater harvesting systems to reduce energy use and promote sustainable living. For any entity, a green building can be a clever investment. They can help lower energy costs, improve employee productivity and wellbeing, and help the value of the property grow over time.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) also has a critical role to play in sustainability. CSR is an approach to business that involves taking responsibility for the impact of an organisation’s operations on the environment and on society in general. It involves adopting sustainable practices and policies, as well as engaging with stakeholders at every level to understand their needs and concerns.
CSR is becoming more and more important for companies that want to build a positive reputation and keep ahead of their competitors. We live in an era marked by a growing consciousness about our planet, and today’s consumers are increasingly interested in doing business with those firms that show a commitment to social and environmental responsibility.
Similarly, many investors are looking for companies that prioritise sustainability in their operations and strategy.
Bringing a waste management company on board is another way companies can reduce their carbon footprint. For example, Tarsus Distribution employs a waste management company that is ISO 9001, ISO 14001, and ISO 45001 certified to take care of waste management and disposal.
The company sorts out all waste such as cardboard, plastic, polystyrene, wood, e-waste, and others, and then partners with various entities who come and collect the various types of scrap accordingly. In addition, Tarsus Distribution has a compactor on site, to compact all cardboard boxes, so that they can get remade and repurposed.
Understanding the quantity of waste the business produces is important to sustainability, the waste management company offers a user portal that Tarsus Distribution can log into, to access monthly reports on the amount of waste, be it plastics or cardboard, that was removed from site in any given month.