How to Develop an Effective Corporate Sustainability Plan for 2017
In order for companies across multiple sectors to effectively improve corporate sustainability, a sustainability plan is critical to the process of setting and meeting environmental goals for 2017. This plan will provide a sustainability roadmap for organizations who want to establish a more environmentally responsible reputation, improve efficiencies, increase brand loyalty, and secure shareholder and employee satisfaction. The following tips will help to introduce corporate responsibility and environmentally-friendly practices into the supply chain so companies can reduce their environmental footprint for a more sustainable future.
Get Organizational Engagement
The first step to developing an effective corporate-wide sustainability program is to get engagement from the entire organization. From shareholders and management to entry-level positions and contractors, it’s important to generate interest within the entire organization before moving forward with a formal plan. Through environmental education, ensure that everyone understands the internal and external benefits of a Corporate Sustainability Program. Make the development process a team effort and ask for insights and feedback from all levels of employment.
Determine Key Corporate Sustainability Metrics and Set Sustainability Benchmarks
As you establish a starting point in order to accurately assess your progress towards corporate sustainability goals, determine your corporate sustainability metrics by asking the following questions about your organization:
- How much water/power/other resources are currently being consumed?
- What’s the current carbon footprint? What will it take to become carbon neutral?
- How much company waste is being currently being diverted from landfills? What is the organization’s recycling rate?
- How engaged are company stakeholders?
- What’s the current renewable energy use?
- How can employees be empowered to participate in more environmentally conscious practices?
A downloadable webinar from National Association for Environmental Management (NAEM) is also available, offering insight into what metrics to use when evaluating an organization’s environmental impact.
Patagonia, a trailblazer when it comes to corporate sustainability, starts their sustainability planning by, “…auditing the materials and methods we use to make our products, taking responsibility for the entire lifecycle of our products and examining how we use resources at our buildings and facilities.” As Patagonia outlines in their process, it’s important to understand your starting point via an internal audit. Through analysis of your company’s current environmental footprint, you can then establish a benchmark to use to assess the success of sustainability efforts moving forward.
Set Goals and Develop Initiatives
Setting sustainability goals should be both big picture and specific in nature. What do you hope to ultimately achieve as a business when it comes to sustainability? What’s achievable for this year? Once goals have been established based on pre-determined sustainability metrics, it’s time to outline specific initiatives that will be implemented to achieve those goals. A sustainability SWOT analysis is a great place to start when setting these initiatives and formulating a strategy for implementation. One great example of setting a specific initiative is Patagonia’s use of an internal quality scorecard to reduce the environmental impact of their supply chain. As part of this initiative, Patagonia measures each product’s quality by looking at durability, repairability, multifunctionality, non-obsolescence and lack of environmental harm. They then set a goal to consistently produce products that average a rating of eight or better.
Measure, Report and Repeat
According to The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) of the world’s largest 250 corporations, 92% report on their sustainability performance. A sustainability plan should always be followed up with an annual sustainability report to measure and analyze the performance of the program based on established sustainability metrics. The report should be made available to the entire organization to help keep both shareholders and employee teams engaged in company-wide sustainability efforts. GRI offers a list of sustainability reporting software and tools that can be useful in analyzing your program’s performance. This report can then serve as a reference for setting next year’s goals and drive environmental action and sustainable change at your company for years to come.
About Pratt Industries and Sustainability
Pratt Industries has been involved in the protecting the environment for decades, using technologies and systems designed to minimize the use of the Earth’s limited resources. Our focus is on reclaiming fiber through recycling OCC (Old Corrugated Containers) and Mixed Paper and converting that discarded fiber into 100 percent recycled packaging, thereby reducing our impact and our customer’s impact on the environment. Pratt Industries has been America’s leading recycled paper and packaging company for over 25 years – dedicated to the sustainability of our planet, our customers and our people, and is recognized around the world for its environmental stewardship.