Industry News
Sustainability in 2020: A look ahead
December 20, 2019
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This post is sponsored by Philip Morris International.

As all businesses glance at the blank slate for 2020 and start to fill in the year’s pages with benchmarks, initiatives and other goals, companies in a transformative state must pay special attention to their evolutions. 

Sustainability is one area in need of special attention in the coming year.

Though it includes subtopics like recycling and fair trade practices, sustainability reaches beyond those issues and should be viewed from a whole-picture perspective. Supply chain, employee relations and even the actual space used to produce, distribute or simply work should be taken into account. To operate a responsible business with a long-term look at what is best for its practices, and consumers, takes commitment and the new year offers the perfect opportunity to develop or reinforce standing policies.

Businesses in transformation must take a close look at how they are sourcing materials, utilizing technology, allocating resources and communicating on sustainability initiatives. This focus will not only increase consumer trust in those brands but will lead to a higher standard for other companies and a more sustainable way of doing business worldwide.

Here is a look at how businesses in a transformative state can tap these initiatives for greater sustainability in the new year.

Agricultural practices

Increased profitability is possible when agricultural practices are improved for sustainability. This includes: working conditions that contribute to the greater environmental good; labor practices that support fair trade and pay; and crop sourcing that takes into account long-term soil conditions and environmental impact. Standards set by the International Labor Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work should be the guidepost for businesses undergoing true agricultural sustainability transformation.

Manufacturing

The ways that products are created, packaged and distributed must be reassessed for sustainability to live in a state of constant improvement. Companies should focus on being part of the circular economy by designing products and using materials that can be recycled or reused. Companies should also strive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve water stewardship and avoid deforestation. Groups such as ASTM International have developed sustainable manufacturing standards developed by people in the industry to maintain as much self-governance as possible.

Consumer waste

Corporations can work to change their approaches to product creation and distribution, but the responsibility for sustainability does not stop when those goods leave company hands. The Harvard Business Review reports that the world generates 1.3 billion tons of solid waste every year and this will rise to 2.2 billion by 2025. In countries like the US, the average resident throws away their own body weight in trash each month.

Post-manufacturing waste is not simply a consumer problem; businesses must consider what happens to their products once they are out in the real world. Look for ways to make your products recyclable or biodegradable. Consumable goods are ideal but not possible in all cases.

Sustaining the future

Sustainability is not an end goal but rather a journey. As companies take more steps this year towards improving their own output, consumers will recognize those changes and entire industries will take note.

How will you improve sustainability practices in 2020?

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