Environment is as important as profit for business
FINANCIAL, social and sustainability results are now detailed in the Annual Report of most public companies and multi-national organisations.
These three outcomes are known as the triple bottom line.
The challenge for local private businesses to report those same things comes down to capability and capacity to capture their impact.
Federation University Australia’s Business School Lecturer in Sustainability and Responsible Management Craig Hurley said, “Publicly listed companies want to report the triple bottom line to demonstrate theway they are contributing to a more sustainable way of operating their business and how they have progressed year on year.”
“There are sound strategic reasons why our local businesses should support and report social and environmental programs and efforts in our local communities”
Mr Hurley said gone are the times where the sole purpose of business is to just generate a profit because the community is saying it is unacceptable behaviour to make a profit at the expense of people or the environment.
“Environment is not just about using resources more efficiently we need to be reinvesting in some of those resources as well.”
Mr Hurley suggests businesses could consider offset programs.
If a business uses a lot of energy, indirectly it is responsible for a lot of green-house emissions, so it can look at how those emissions can be offset by working with local land care groups to support or sponsor clearing of water ways or tree planting near factories or premises.
Simple changes such as eliminating plastic cutlery from workplace canteens, reviewing the use of resources – water, electricity, gas, raw materials and waste generated and look at the utilities bills as performance indicators.
Mr Hurley said, “Environmental groups and government departs have been partnering with business to give credibility that the gains are real and achieving positive outcomes.”
This quantifiable information should be on businesses websites, Facebook pages, Instagram accounts so the message gets to the stakeholders.
Mars Wrigley Confectionery Ballarat plant director Stuart McKay said, “Like many Ballarat business owners, we are passionate about the environment and the community we operate in.”
Helping our stakeholders understand what the business does and why it does it, is all about telling stories about the choices made.
Small or large, businesses are connectors across the community and can help explain why action on climate change is so important.
Mr McKay said, “At Mars, we believe we can’t grow as a business unless the planet, people and communities we work with are healthy and thriving.”
Recognising a responsibility and opportunity to do more, Mars launched its Sustainable in a Generation Plan which transparently chronicles and celebrates the progress being made towards the commitments launched in 2017.
“This guides and measures our progress against three interconnected strategic pillars we believe are essential for sustainable growth – healthy planet, thriving people, and nourishing wellbeing,” said Mr McKay.
“The freedom of being a family owned company means that we can take the long-term perspective to our operations, and the important investments we make as a business.”
“We take science-based goals very seriously at Mars, and it was science that played a significant role in helping us establish the right targets to really help make the changes the world needs us to make.”
Mars is reducing greenhouse gas emissions – from 2015 levels – across its value chain by 27 per cent by 2025 and upward to 67 per cent by 2050 as its part in keeping the planet from warming more than two degrees.
Mars believe that forced labour in any of form, including modern slavery and human trafficking, has no place in its operations or supply chains and that business, government and civil society must work together to make progress on this complex issue.
As a consequence, its annual statement on the issue is published on the company website in compliance with the UK Modern Slavery Act.
Mr McKay said, “This is a requirement of the legislation, and we believe it also increases visibility and transparency on this important issue.”
Haymes Paints sales director Matthew Haymes said family business and employer of 240 people around Australia, doesn’t report on its environmental outcomes just to tick a box.
“We do it because we have a responsibility to make sure there is no damage to the environment and the business is responsible for what it produces,” said Mr Haymes.
“One of the most exciting and proactive environmental initiatives we are involved in is Paintback.”
Two years ago, Haymes along with four other paint manufacturers, founded a world-first, industry-led initiative designed to divert unwanted paint and packaging from ending up in landfill and waterways.
Mr Haymes said the acceptance of Paintback, an independent not-for-profit organisation which is funded through a 15 cent plus GST per litre levy on eligible products, between 1 litre and 20 litres inclusive, has been amazing.
“We thought there would be a backlash as the levy is charged to the consumer but the feedback has been fantastic. Most people say this is great, we are really pleased that the initiative has been taken.”
Information on Paintback is scarce on the company website however Haymes gets is message across to all its stakeholders – employees, suppliers, retailers and DIY home decorators.
“Our deep understanding and sensitivity to environmental issues is what underpins our drive towards achieving the goal of zero waste. Reducing our water usage, energy consumption and emissions are examples of areas Haymes are targeting to improve sustainability and protect our environment for future generations,” Mr Haymes said.