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The field of green technology in business and corporate fronts for environmental sustainability has been gaining substantial momentum as world gradually shifts into a different ecological regime. More companies have recognized numerous benefits that can be gained from adoption of environmental-friendly processes and products especially in terms of reduction of production costs and healthy working settings for their employees. Canon Inc. is such a corporation that has acknowledged sustainable procedures in its operations in reducing the impact its product has on the environment. The firm joined the Sustainability Advantage Program in 2009 and has seen significant reduction of carbon emissions to the environment. The outfit’s energy consumption has considerably dropped. Interventions such as on-site recycling of wastes have not only had positive outcomes in environmental considerations but also long-tern economic value to the organization. CSC is an IT entity that has also incorporated such mechanisms in their strategies towards sustainable supply chain management procedures through routine monitoring of environmental performance by all its business units. Innovative products, processes and business models have the key to ensuring that the pressure on the environment and other crucial resources is contained and also give firms and corporations a competitive edge in consumer markets. The essay will utilize the two case studies as a basis to argue the position that the initiative have in supporting core environmental policies and attempt to delve further on other creative approaches that can be deployed to achieve desired outcomes.
Role of Sustainability Initiatives for Economic and Environmental Development
Since the advent of industrial revolution, the impact of human activities on the eco-systems has radically increased. Despite several ground-breaking technologies and social progress in various fields, myriad harmful- human induced- effects such as climate change, destructive urbanization, indiscriminate natural resources extraction and an upsurge of lifestyle diseases have resulted. Taking into account the exploitation of non-renewable resources, the current trends cannot be maintained for long. Urgent solutions have to be established to enable future generations be in a prosperous and sustainable trajectory. Policy makers and business leaders are becoming increasingly aware of the necessity of having eco-sensitive legislations to guide decision making at both local and international levels with regard to future methodologies that will restore and maintain the integrity of working surroundings and ecologies. NSW Government and Office of Environment and Heritage (2015) defines sustainable development as one that meets needs of the present without necessarily compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. Although the potential of this concept to create significant behavior change and value for nature is attained, there are promising indicators that it will eventually be internalized in key institutions to propagate revolutionary transformations.
Role of Corporations in Sustainable development
The duty of implementing initiatives to foster sustainability is in the hands of different actors and can be credited to specific measures for authorities, consumers and manufacturers. Corporations bear the biggest responsibility in this endeavor as they seek for means to streamline their organizational cultures to help the meet targets stipulated in the Sustainable Development Goals blueprint through cutting down on carbon emissions, energy conservation and waste handling (NSW Government & Office of Environment and Heritage, 2012). Apparently, tendencies of firms and companies focuses on promoting producer responsibility and implement strategies such as the ones aimed at recycling electronic waste. The firms impact on natural environment, their personnel and the society at large and hence need to lay down methodologies to mitigate against adverse effects. Businesses contribute to damage of the environment through choice of raw materials, engineering processes that generate wastes, organizational frameworks and work practices. For a long time, firms such as Canon have been tirelessly occupied in reducing effects of their products on the environment (NSW Government & Office of Environment and Heritage, 2012). For instance, the company has asserted that its production line of large cluster of devices with a broad range of applications consume less than half the energy other gadgets are using and have laid emphasis on design of their products by producing smaller and lighter devices. Some critics have maintained that corporations in most cases act on behalf of their clients and therefore it is the latter who are responsible for the impacts. The groups note also that the firms stimulate consumption through selective advertisement and promotion hence the information is not publicly available. In that way, the outfits outline their products and processes and thus influence sustainability in either a positive or negative manner.
Typical Sustainability Initiatives for Companies
According to experiential studies, most companies that have been cross-examined have shown that their sustainability efforts have been anchored on compliance to ISO 14001 that has enabled them have consistent environmental performance improvements hence cultivating a more environmentally aware culture.
Green Reporting Initiative
One of the tools that have been used by contemporary firms in monitoring environmental performance within workplaces is the green reporting initiative which informs the annual sustainability reports. Such corporates have a broad range of standards applied while communicating with both internal and external stakeholders. The GRI has gained prominence for the past few years as some reputable organizations such as Google, IBM and Microsoft have adopted it to enable them support their sustainability initiatives (NSW Government & Office of Environment and Heritage, 2012). Research into the set of parameters has indicated a progressive correlation between environmental standards and level of unrestricted disclosure for its processes. Supply chain emissions have been implicated for their contributory role in climate change that possess great risks on nature and should be addressed with firmness. Not long ago, Walmart was determined to assess its greenhouse gas emissions by tallying the carbon footprints of its megastores and quantifying emissions from its products (NSW Government & Office of Environment and Heritage, 2012). Data collected was utilized in instituting corrective measures such as enhancing energy efficiency of its products including lightbulbs. Corporations have been pressured by environmental agencies to periodically evaluate and publicly disclose their emissions to promote accountability.
Streamlined Manufacturing Processes
Most firms dedicated to improving their general sustainability index have adopted production methods that recognize need of using raw materials in an economical approach. The firms deploy their dynamic capabilities to meet ecological demands of both their internal and external shareholders. For competitiveness, IT companies use distinct means for their energy-efficient data centers and web-based applications. CSC is a firm offering IT services in Australia and in its efforts to facilitate environmental protection strategies created a resource-efficiency unit that enables it monitor power consumption levels within the facility. Data centers for the company are ISO 14001 certified and have been incorporated into its environmental management system (EMS). Additionally, IBM engages in innovations that improve utilization of energy for its hardware and software services for their data centers. The IBM iDataPlex system utilized for high-performance cloud computing uses up to 40% less energy relative to a standard server in the industry (NSW Government & Office of Environment and Heritage, 2012). Life Cycle Assessment methodology has also played a key role by appraising environmental impacts of manufacturing processes and design of products especially the ones that involve release of toxic wastes.
Employee Engagement in Sustainable Practices
Tech companies have appreciated the fact that sustainability is a viable investment since guarantees business continuity through use of resources sparingly. An enterprise that is committed to the cause embraces and requires a team effort from all levels of the organizational structure. Managers, mid-level personnel and clients all have a part to play in collective sustainable practices since this promotes long-term impact on company’s general culture. For instance, Intel Inc. Corporation established a Sustainability in Action program that funds innovative ideas of its employees geared towards tackling local environmental concerns. Grave to Cradle (G2C) concept is one such beneficiary of the financing that encouraged recycling of the firm’s plastic wastes into pencil boxes been supplied to local schools as charity. Some companies have also integrated environmental performance into the merit pay system where employees who meet and surpass sustainability targets get rewarded in form of bonuses on top of their wages. About nine years ago, CSC Australia reduced number of waste bins from about four workstations and urged their staff to segregate generated waste bound for recycling and disposal and within a period of one year, the firm had cut down on waste bin liners by a whopping 68,640 which is a testimony that company culture holds the key towards sustainable practices (NSW Government & Office of Environment and Heritage, 2015).
Partnerships towards Sustainability.
Companies and firms do not pursue sustainability on their own but instead form alliances with other entities with similar motives. The outfits cooperate with other organizations in sharing of ideas, resources and manpower and in so doing, creative strategies are formulated. In 2007, Google and Intel formed a coalition that brought together consumers, firms and conservation agencies that were eco-cognizant. The target of the collaboration intended to save on energy expenditure by close to $6 billion and shrink greenhouse gas emissions by 54 million tons annually. Partnerships have enabled unleash transformative means of operating and mobilizing skills to create shared responsibility in the dynamic world. Currently there is a noble alliance between Coca-Cola, Ford, Heinz and Nike seeking to catalyze development of 100% plant-centered PET materials and fibers to reduce environmental pollution (NSW Government & Office of Environment and Heritage, 2015). Evidence-based partnerships for sustainability include using self-organizing system to seize an efficient rhythm for change, business leadership that is well-coordinated and transparency of objectives for desirable outcomes. Corporations that have ventured into cooperating with other like-minded entities have reported positive experiences and improved sustainability standards in their areas of specialization. Canon Australia partnered with Sustainability Advantage Program and has since that period, recorded tremendous results in its path towards sustained development. There has been a decline of carbon emissions by almost 18% and generated waste from its various departments has been cut down significantly
Civilian Education on Sustainability
As discussed above, it is evident that sustainability is a collective effort that should be achieved through involvement of all key stakeholders hence creating the growing need to involve consumers in this process. Companies are taking advantage of current popularity that has been bestowed on sustainability to market their initiatives globally. As companies rapidly engage in ground-breaking innovations, customers need to be in the core offer an insight on significance of such practices towards ensuring a future that will satisfy its needs without necessarily straining (NSW Government & Office of Environment and Heritage, 2012). Consumers are now armed with requisite information on the various practices such as unplugging appliances from power sources when not in use, recycling some most common types of wastes instead of throwing them away, and encouraging them to purchase reusable items and devices in place of the ones that can be easily disposed. An example of such a successful campaign is the sustained online campaign initiated by Nokia to notify customers on an initiative they called Take Back which is an electronic waste minimization program that attracted international recognition (NSW Government & Office of Environment and Heritage, 2012). The company launched centers globally where Nokia mobile phone users could drop old devices for disposal. Instead, it collected the disposed old mobile handsets, dismantled them and recycled their components into new products. The copper and nickel found in old battery cells is reprocessed into stainless steel items, new batteries and magnets while the gold and copper in these phones’ charging systems is recycled into jewelry and other useful consumer merchandises. Plastic exterior of the mobile phones are used to manufacture traffic cones, car cushions and benches located in parks. Through such an intervention, Nokia was able to raise awareness on various strategies at the disposal of clients in aiding to contribute to the sustainability culture.
Corporate Social Responsibility in Sustainability
Internalization of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) with sustainability practices has emerged as a fundamental and dynamic way of acknowledging local environment through which a company operates. Synchronized with the advancement of CSR, a broader recognition of the environmental concerns occasioned by corporations have been widely deliberated upon originating from decentralized mechanisms at societal levels and could result to reduced pollution and ecological conservation within the surroundings (NSW Government & Office of Environment and Heritage, 2015). The initiative focusses more on non-financial aspects of the company to influence behavior with special regard to prevailing sustainable processes and practices. One of the direct benefits that companies reap from good citizenship is reputational gains. A positive public image is one of the most powerful tools that can be exploited for sustainable responsible businesses. Accolades such as the Public Eye Award have been used to demonstrate need for participation in eco-sensitive manufacturing processes. Agencies also highlight some of the companies that have violated environmental standards and contributed towards pollution. Concentrating CSR activities where firms are to benefit most is of essence to strike a balance between profitability and public engagement. Governments have traditionally mediated the relationship between companies and the society through compliance laws. For example, IBM engages the public to avail the World Community Grid to about 200,000 volunteers who offer dormant processing power of their computers to generate a “virtual supercomputer” that is dedicated solely to humanitarian research and development (NSW Government & Office of Environment and Heritage, 2015). The initiative is strategic to IBM as it demonstrates how public participation in projects for companies can have promising results in addressing global constraints and gives them feedback on performance for quality improvement.
Recommendations and Conclusion
An effective electronic waste collection system should be formulated by companies and firms to enable them classify and quantify wastes that they generate. The e-waste collection system facilitate formation of e-waste collection zones in strategic points with the organization based on the concentration of discarded waste. Aligning sustainability goals to the organizational culture will be a sure way in working towards a prosperous future for companies and firms. Investment decisions, improvement on products and modifying supply chain management systems will all have to be undertaken with a perspective on how they are contributing towards a sustainable future for the firms. Notably, to comprehend where the efforts should be intensified in the companies, it is imperative for the firms to identify matters having the biggest impact on businesses and shareholders. Another key means that the units can adopt include instituting policies that work towards tracking progress and effectively communicating the actions to be undertaken. Measurement of progress is critical towards defining key performance indicators to accomplish set goals and enable them highlight areas in need of improvement through systematic collection of data that offer guidance to future decision making and trace major developments (NSW Government & Office of Environment and Heritage, 2015). Metrics and gages would be useful in reporting environmental standards. Internally, the data can enable firms prioritize their initiatives and enhance employee engagement in sustainability effort. Notably, it is clear that businesses need to be actively involved in environmental-friendly initiatives to meet sustainability requirements. The sooner the outfits realize that there is more to business than generating income, the better for the corporates in ensuring long-term continuation of their operations and adequate raw materials for future products. Compliance to established regulations and policies that promote sustainable utilization of available resources will be vital in such strategic interventions.
NSW Government & Office of Environment and Heritage (2012). The corporate philosophy that sustains one of the world’s great brands, sustainability advantage, http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/resources/business/sustainabilityadvantage/110633-cs-canon.pdf
NSW Government & Office of Environment and Heritage (2015). I am action maters CSC, http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/sustainabilityadvantage/csCSC.htm.
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