Image via The Economic Times
Did you know that textile mills use a whopping 200 tons of water? In a joint initiative by Clean by Design and Jason Jay, an MIT Sloan professor, 33 Chinese textile mills were able to save over three million tons of water, 61000 tons of coal, 36 million kWh of electricity, four-hundred tons of chemicals and cut down operational costs by $14.7 million.
All this was possible by moving to sustainable business practices. As to what that is: sustainable business means creating business value by focusing on creating value for society and the environment.
Transforming the Fundamental Role of Industry Think-Tanks
Industry think-tanks can no longer just focus on the bottom line (productivity, profit, any of the usual business parameters). Instead, they have to focus on creating and adopting sustainable business practices, by emphasizing on the various challenges faced by their specific industries.
Take the example of the construction and infrastructure industry. Though green buildings cost more initially, the lower electricity bills and other maintenance costs make them cheaper in the long run.
“Why bother with sustainability? What’s wrong with the bottom line?”
Studies show that when businesses take a methodical approach to incorporate sustainability into their business practices from the ground up, they actually begin to do better financially.
Here are a few key industries that could zoom ahead by adopting sustainable practices:
Right now, pharma companies produce tons of waste that contaminate soil, water, and air. According to a recent news report, it was found that marine life health gets impacted by the wastewater let out by pharma companies.
Some pharma companies are taking the first steps to sustainability. Biogen, the biggest pharma company in Massachusetts, has gone completely carbon neutral. This move has had a major impact on the bottom line of the company. Biogen was able to increase its annual returns by more than 18%, and attracts some of the best talents in the field.
If the world is slowly transitioning to cloud storage, then it means it’s good for the planet, right? Eh, not so much. The cloud isn’t physical, but cloud tech is massive server farm, which consumes correspondingly massive amounts of energy.
Another area of concern is the massive tons of e-waste being generated all over the world. Only a minuscule amount of old devices get recycled; the rest end up in landfills, releasing harmful chemicals into the soil and water. The amount of e-waste generated worldwide is expected to reach a shocking 50 million tons by the end of 2018 and is predicted to grow at a rate of 4-5% every year.
This is one industry that can make a huge impact by shifting to sustainable business practices. More than 50% of the greenhouse gases emitted in the US in 2015 came from electricity production and producing petrol and diesel to fuel automobiles. Walmart, among others, has committed to solar and is making huge profits from this move.
Apart from the industries listed here, there are tons of others like logistics, construction, apparel manufacturing, food and more – all of which could profit immensely by adopting sustainable business practices.In all proposals, think-tanks should analyze and take into account the price the future generations will have to pay for our current rapacious pace of growth and ‘development’.
It’s time to shift our collective business approach: as we said elsewhere: there is a huge difference between standard of living and quality of life, and we need to choose which one we’re going to raise.
Sustainability pays! Are you ready to move towards a sustainable future?
By Athar Mohammad.