One of the biggest challenges that is presented to business in today’s world is how to combat increased resource wastage, and that all starts with engagement with employees. Planning for the long-term can start with small-scale investment, but it has to start now, says Cloud Sustainability’s Daniel Howells…
A rapidly increasing population, the urbanisation of those people and the increase in consumption that those people will bring about will result in high demand, increased prices and ultimately shortage of resources including energy, water, food, land and physical materials. Constrained resources are evidently a sign of things to come.
Perversely, raw materials and commodity prices have become ferociously unstable – oil at $25 a barrel, nosediving prices of steel… even wheat and rice prices have become dramatically variable.
How can reducing waste and resource usage benefit organisations?
According to the Carbon Trust, organisations indirectly pay for their suppliers energy costs. The same principle can be applied to waste, or any other resource that is consumed or generated through the manufacturing or procurement process. This is because costs of production must be passed on through the supply chain in order to keep business profitable. Being resource efficient is more than saving money on utility bills, it’s also making products more attractive to a wider audience as your production costs become leaner.
Prevention of waste, as identified by the waste hierarchy, is prioritised as the most sustainable way of dealing with waste. It is surely also the most economical in the long term. Excessive waste production and energy consumption creates considerable long term economic pressures, particularly in light of commodity price instability. Reduced reliance on price sensitive markets provides an organisation with a competitive edge and financial security.
So we know that prevention of resource wastage is important – but where do we start?
Most organisations start with procurement – building into their purchasing processes considerations for responsible sourcing, product design, circular products, energy efficient products, and carbon neutral products for example.
Minimising environmental impact through the supply chain and undertaking socially and ethically responsible purchasing are now staple parts of a responsible and sustainable procurement policy. However, organisations need to recognise that on top of reduced reputational risk, sustainable procurement is also about business longevity.
At Cloud Sustainability, we believe that the solution isn’t just about finding alternative destinations for our waste or alternative sources for our energy, it’s fundamentally about reducing resource wastage and driving resource efficiency throughout an organisation. With this in mind, employee engagement should be at the heart of business growth strategy.
Employee engagement should be a priority
There is a plethora of evidence to illustrate the potential cost and environmental savings achievable through effective employee engagement and behaviour change projects in sustainability and resource efficiency. Increased staff engagement with these issues creates a passionate and enthused workforce and one that is likely to think more carefully about other business activities that they can make more efficient.
Many employee engagement initiatives report that the amount of energy and water consumed can be reduced by between 5 and 20 percent, with a reduction in waste consumption at similar levels. We have experienced this ourselves across a range of projects, and this has been backed up by a recent study undertaken by Bloomberg, EEVS and Global Action Plan (UK Energy Efficiency Trends report, Volume 13, published 21 January 2016).
More and more organisations are realising the benefits of small upfront investments to curb rising costs. Everyone is convinced that if we do grasp resource efficiency then there will be an improved environment, longevity for businesses, added value and bottom line benefits. A sustainable business is surely a business that plans for the long term. Businesses need to be engaging with their staff on resource usage now, if they plan to be in business in the future.
If you’d like to know more about the Behaviour Change Programmes that Cloud Sustainability provide, please contact me via Daniel.firstname.lastname@example.org