Recognising that sustainability is a key business driver, a growing number of SMEs are keen to get certified sustainable, but are confronted with complex processes and high costs. Sustainability experts advise on what SMEs can do.
As big corporations move forward with sustainability initiatives to save energy, improve efficiency and build sustainable supply chains, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are following suit. They no longer dismiss sustainability as merely good intentions, but as a key business driver and strategic differentiator for brands.
Increasingly SMEs are trying to establish stronger standards surrounding their sustainability practices with many being keen to work with established sustainability certifications and accreditation bodies.
The challenge for SMEs, however, is that sustainability certifications for big corporations, such as those conducted by the Global Resources Initiative (GRI) and the CDP, are expensive and complex relative to the scale of their business operations.
How can SMEs link sustainability to profit and leverage sustainability to better market their company?
Experts Steve Malkin from international sustainability certification programme, The Planet Mark™, and Tony Wines, Founder and CEO and Ian Catley, Director and Head of Business Development of Turnkey Group – A sustainability platform and services company — share their practical advices in this area.
What does it really mean for a company to be sustainable?
Steve Malkin (SM): In simple terms, sustainability defines the ability of systems to remain diverse and productive and self-sustain indefinitely. For a business, this means the capability to continue for an indefinite period, sustain itself in a rapidly changing world and market by balancing economic, social and environmental impact.
Sounds straight-forward but how can SMEs achieve it?
SM: For sustained, strong economic performance you have to consider the social and environmental impacts of your business. They are inter-dependent. Let’s consider the environmental aspect as a primary impact. Our aim here will be to reduce carbon, energy, water, waste.
You can achieve it by engaging your employees to start looking at resource efficiency and being better for the planet. By reducing your carbon footprint, you reduce costs.
By measuring results, you are getting evidence of your environmental and social performance that could be used to diferrentiate and attract customers. It is a virtuous circle – good for business, planet your employees and customers.
Ian Catley (IC): From an ethical perspective, by embedding sustainability initiatives into your business, you are are engaging your employees towards a common goal. This strenghtens your team, helps to retain and attract good employees and makes you more attractive to customers and investors.
This article was originally published by Eco Business.