Sustainability is a set of actions that guarantees human needs without compromising future generations. In other words, from an environmental point of view, they can be actions that save water and that restore green areas, compensating the emission of polluting gases, but also, from a social and economic perspective, activities that promote equality and that respect the limitations of resources, for example. The intelligent use of natural resources is what guarantees sustainable development.
The term Sustainability originated in the 1980s and was first mentioned in a report commissioned by the United Nations (UN) on the impact of human activities on Planet Earth. A group of scientists and specialists concluded the finitude of natural resources, and with this, the present generation should manage its activities in a way that does not compromise the needs of future generations. The situation was directly linked to environmental practices, depleting natural resources such as water, which compromise life as a whole.
Environmental sustainability becomes the most urgent and immediate issue, but the report still warns of social and economic factors, which must be balanced by companies, forming the Tripple Bottom Line, the tripod of sustainability, used in the creation of a management model sustainable.
Sustainability in companies
The issue of sustainability is directly linked to economic development. Since the UN report, it was realized that industrial growth and consumption of natural resources would, very soon, threaten human development. Polluted rivers in industrial zones, forests burned in favor of economic activities, among other problems, have become unsustainable for the environment and for the economy itself, since the forms of production have also been successively affected. With this, the concept of corporate sustainability was created, which includes the management of natural resources, productive systems that are self-sustainable, that is, that do not consume more than they can do / recover, and practices of social responsibility.
Among the sustainability challenges in companies are raising awareness and changing the internal culture of employees and engaging employees in recycling practices, saving resources, etc. As well as the involvement of the board, which should set an example.
The implementation of sustainable practices also involves a problem of prejudice on the part of managers, on the grounds that they represent an increase in production costs, which in the long run is exactly the opposite. Ultimately, corporate sustainability is a way to save resources and money.
From a marketing point of view, it is also a competitive advantage. There is a growing consumer interest in green products, and an increase in brand reputation, created and perceived by the consumer.
Corporate Sustainability Index (ISE)
Created by the São Paulo Stock Exchange, it serves as a metric for the level of commitment of companies in the Brazilian market to sustainable development, as a way of indicating to investors the progress of the adoption of these practices among companies.
How can a company be sustainable?
According to electronicsencyclopedia, sustainable practices can vary a lot depending on the company’s area of operation, but there are actions to be implemented universally, and some are even quite simple. Here are some tips:
- Water savings: staff awareness programs for not wasting water, use of rainwater for cleaning, and even the use of innovative systems in industrial production that use less water in product development.
- Energy savings: the energy and fuel used in Brazil are, in most cases, from natural resources (such as hydroelectric energy and oil). Clean energy sources can be used, such as wind and solar, and consumption can be reduced with simple initiatives, such as turning off computers at the end of the workday.
- Adequate waste disposal: not only industrial waste, but the company’s day-to-day waste can be recycled. This includes technological waste.
- Exchange of suppliers for more sustainable services and products: the company can start consuming organic foods, which do not contribute to soil pollution with the use of pesticides; the courier delivery service can be exchanged for companies that do the same by bicycle, among others.
- Rational exploration of mineral resources, respecting preservation zones.
- Do not agree with slave and / or child labor: this includes care in contracts throughout the supply chain.
- Have programs that promote equal opportunities: observe if there is representation of blacks, women and people with disabilities in the company’s staff.
- Fair remuneration of employees, showing that the company has a social concern and is not focused on maximizing profit.
- Awareness programs also among consumers: practices to encourage sustainability in all spheres of society.