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How B2B Partnerships Help Brands Drive Responsible Business

May 8, 2017 Comments Off on How B2B Partnerships Help Brands Drive Responsible BusinessComments Off on How B2B Partnerships Help Brands Drive Responsible Business

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Some of the world’s biggest brands — Walmart, Unilever, Nike, Apple, Heineken and more — have committed to reducing corporate greenhouse gas emissions. While setting targets and cleaning up internal operations are necessary steps in the right direction, true global sustainability isn’t something a single brand can achieve on its own. What’s more, taking on a complete sustainability retrofit can be prohibitively expensive and time consuming. That’s why working with business partners who specialize in eco-friendly operations can reduce costs, accelerate transitions and scale sustainability initiatives.

When Walmart set out to tackle sustainability over a decade ago, the company realized 90 percent of its emissions originated in supply operations and the conglomerate began working with its suppliers to incorporate environmentally sound business practices throughout its value chain. Investing in R&D to transform everything from sourcing materials, processing, manufacturing, packaging, transportation and beyond to minimize carbon and environmental footprints can be done more efficiently by partnering with eco-conscious companies specialized in a specific piece of your supply chain.

Here are a few ways business-to-business partnerships can improve corporate sustainability:

Source Recycled Packaging: 8 million metric tons of plastic pollutes our oceans each year and much of that comes from single use plastic packaging. Plastic packaging can be convenient and useful; yet it has detrimental impacts on our waterways, wildlife and environment. However, not all plastic has the same environmental footprint.

A company doing an amazing job of reducing oceanic plastic pollution is Envision Plastics. The B2B company recently committed to diverting 10 million pounds of plastic from entering the ocean within the next two years. Envision’s OceanBound Plastic utilizes plastic waste material collected by local communities before it enters waterways. The plastics maker then recycles the plastics to form a resin that can be used as packaging and various other applications. Ultimately, working with third party packagers that source recycled materials is a great way to reduce your brand’s plastic pollution.

Run on Renewable Energy: It goes without saying that utilizing renewable energy for both onsite and offsite power is a surefire way to improve corporate sustainability; however, the logistics of installing or sourcing clean electricity can get cumbersome and expensive. On the other hand, there is a myriad of renewable energy options, many of which don’t require hefty upfront costs or onsite installation.

To help facilitate corporate transitions to clean power, Rocky Mountain Institute launched the Business Renewables Center. The program offers participants information, guidance and connections with renewable energy suppliers, effectively streamlining the energy transition.  Essentially, low-carbon energy partners are a great resource for companies looking to reduce electricity-related emissions with or without installing onsite generation.

Utilize Sustainable Logistics: The International third-party logistics market was priced at over $760 billion in 2015 and, with e-commerce and emerging markets on the rise, it’s set to grow in the coming years. With increased trade on the horizon, now more than ever, it is vital to utilize low-carbon shipping options whenever possible. In general, the faster the shipping, the more carbon intensive and expensive the transport. In fact, “extra slow steaming” produces more than 40 percent less emissions than traditional sea-freight speeds. Therefore, timing shipments and estimating product flows is crucial to minimizing company carbon footprint.

An organization doing a great job moving logistics toward a sustainable future is Com4Green. The logistics group created the Global Green Logistics network, which utilizes cloud computing and minimizes transport emissions to help companies around the world ship in an environmentally-friendly fashion. The lesson here is that collaborating with environmentally responsible cargo carriers can not only reduce emissions, but also cut costs.

Waste Wisely: The environmental footprint of a company is not only defined by what it uses, but also by what it doesn’t use. Corporate waste reduction can start with basic things like separating trash from recycling and using reusable tableware. To take it further you can conduct or hire out for a complete waste audit and reduction strategy.

A brand currently working to reduce corporate waste streams is Waste Less Living, which analyzes sources and outflows, implements company composting, and facilitates event waste management.

Another amazing organization specialized in e-waste reduction is Homeboy Recycling. Homeboy helps companies and individuals responsibly recycle computers, cellphones, cables and other technological relics. What’s more, the recycler takes it a step further by employing ex-convicts with a living wage.

The key takeaway here is that working with a waste reduction partner is an excellent way to make recycling, composting and responsible waste disposal easy, cost effective and shareable.

Work With Responsible Banks: The banking industry has a significant impact on capital flows and can influence the type of projects that get funded. As the Dakota Access Pipeline showed us, banks that back projects that harm the environment or society are subject to backlash from consumers and advocacy groups. Although brands don’t have a direct say in the projects their banking partner funds, they can choose to do business with sustainably-minded financial institutions, which can be used to tell the story of brand purpose. A bank committed to socially and environmentally responsible investing is Amalgamated Bank, which is dedicated to investing in sustainable businesses and funding a low-carbon economy.

The takeaway here is that working with a socially conscious banking partner is a great way to ensure your brand’s positive impact spreads beyond internal operations and positions your company as a member of the larger global ecosystem of We First capitalism.

A growing wave of business leaders are invested in transforming the engine of capitalism to achieve not only economic but, social, ethical, moral, and environmental sustainability. While running a sustainable business helps build a better world, it can also open up amazing storytelling potential for your marketing initiatives and increase the bottomline. Ultimately, business-to-business partnerships are an excellent way to scale sustainability initiatives, support green growth and meet environmental metrics in a cost-effective manner.

 

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Title image via Flickr courtesy of user Kim Seng at https://flic.kr/p/jhLj93

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