How to work towards a sustainable business model

Forget fluffy, short-lived campaigns - it’s time to focus on the long-term integration of sustainable values

With consumers increasingly making environmentally-driven decisions, there’s a commercial impetus for businesses to embrace sustainability. Recent research conducted this summer by Deloitte found that in the last year, 34% of consumers had stopped purchasing certain brands or products because they had ethical or sustainability related concerns.

So how can companies become more sustainable? Here are five ways in which you can shape a sustainable business model and achieve lasting change.

Set clear targets

Change needs structure and that involves setting clear targets that your company can work towards. Blanket statements and concepts may look good on a website but what does ‘caring about the environment’ mean in practice, and how do these words translate to action? It’s clear targets that will drive real, effective change.

Targets could include setting a deadline to achieve net zero emissions, setting targets for waste reduction and recycling or pursuing industry recognised certifications such as B Corp (which come with their own standards and deadlines). Don’t be afraid to turn to external experts to help inform your strategy.

Empower your team to drive change

Reshaping your business model to place sustainability at its core is no small task and requires the imagination and cooperation of your whole team. Be open to ideas and suggestions from company members within different areas of your business. They’ll have on-the-ground knowledge and insights about improving practices that your C-suite may miss.

Additionally, you should set processes in place that enable team members to continually provide feedback and present new ideas. This helps keep the whole company accountable and allows your business to keep evolving.

Make use of eco-friendly technology

Innovative tech is integral in tackling the climate crisis. Businesses in every sector should be taking advantage of them to help reduce their environmental impact. From carbon capture tech to waste monitoring sensors and e-mobility solutions, there’s a wealth of eco-friendly technology to lean on. Regardless of your company mission and business model, there are always steps that can be taken to make the way you offer services more sustainable. 

Last year, our team invested £2.5m in adding e-cargo bikes to our fleet of laundry couriers – becoming the first laundry provider in the UK to introduce an electric bike initiative. To mitigate microplastic pollution, we’re working towards installing specialised filtration technology in our washing machines, in order to reduce the amount of microplastics released into wastewater after every wash. 

Clean up your supply chains

A business is only as ethical as its supply chain; the way you procure items and the partners you work with are all part of your environmental impact and reflect on you. Your packaging may be made from paper and recyclable, but is it sustainably sourced? Are your supply chain partners clear about what they’re doing to minimise waste and emissions and are your workers being paid a fair, living wage? An eco-friendly head office means nothing if your supply chain doesn’t match up.

We’re working to make our delivery more sustainable by incorporating state-of-the-art routing technology to optimise sustainable ‘Green Routes’ for our laundry couriers. This enables as many deliveries as possible in a one-way trip to curb carbon emissions and reduce fuel consumption.

Keep reviewing your progress

The key to making progress is continually monitoring and reviewing your performance. Keeping track of your projected timelines and current results helps you maintain focus and allows you to pinpoint areas that may need extra attention or work.

If targets shift or timeframes are extended it’s not the end of the world: you should acknowledge setbacks and be transparent with stakeholders. But that shouldn’t remove the urgency from your efforts. If you can’t meet a target by your intended deadline you need to work out why and invest time and resources in resolving the issue.

If businesses truly want to tackle climate change, a one-off campaign won’t cut it. The planet’s future depends on companies putting their climate responsibilities at the heart of their processes and working for long-term integration of sustainable values. And this work must begin now.

Deyan Dimitrov
Deyan Dimitrov

Share via
Copy link