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Going Green: The benefits global businesses reap from environmental initiatives

|Mar 28|magazine17 min read

Australia’s government offers a fairly comprehensive plan for reducing the negative impact the country’s people and businesses have on the environment. The Department of the Environment has specific goals to maintain clean air, land and water to preserve the country’s national heritage.

 Included in these plans is a push towards renewable energy, with a look towards offshore wind energy and a shift from coal to gas. The government is also focusing on energy efficiency and bringing new technology to the industrial sector increase efficiency. Public transportation is a priority.

Green initiatives are part of what some are considering a global economic revolution towards improving sustainability and the environmentally-friendly nature of business. Using clean energy and promoting energy efficiency in your own business is a competitive advantage too few companies are taking advantage of. Read on to find out how global brands are implementing green initiatives and benefitting from the move to green.

IKEA: DIY assembly means less fuel usage

Care for the environment is taken at every turn with IKEA. After highly publicised scandals involving the company’s use of formaldehyde in the 1980s and 1992, IKEA has been proactive in instituting environmentally-friendly initiatives. Not only do they support sustainable forestry techniques, but they are also heavily investing in solar and wind energy. By doubling their investments in renewable energy, IKEA plans to be using 100 percent clean energy by 2020.

Their core environmental values are available for all to view via their IKEA Way of Purchasing (IWAY) initiative. IWAY standards are the minimum requirements for environmental and social and working conditions to be addressed when the company purchases products, materials and services.

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Recently, plastic bags are no longer provided to the customer; instead, reusable bags are for sale. IKEA GreenTech, a venture capital fund founded in 2008, plans to invest in companies focused on solar panels, alternative light source, energy efficiency and water saving and purification. And the reason you assemble the furniture for yourself? You can ship more flat packages easier, saving on fuel and fuel costs. For more information on their current and future sustainability efforts, click here.

Amcor: Innovative packaging for sustainability

Amcor is a multinational packaging leader that had its roots originally in Australia. Their three focuses for responsible environment management include greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions – spotlighting a 10 percent reduction by 2015-2016, and a 60 percent reduction by 2030; waste to landfill – including a 50 percent reduction in waste to landfill with a long term goal of zero waste sent to landfills; and water use – hoping to reach a 25 percent reduction in water use by 2015-2016 (for their Australasia business).

Their sustainability policy is all encompassing, covering the environment, community, workplace, marketplace and economy. The company vows to keep communication open with the community and workforce so that issues and concerns can be quickly addressed.

And because they are a packaging company, Amcor strives to continuously innovate their packaging to be lighter and include more recycled materials so that it has a smaller negative impact on the environment. They are always looking to optimise packaging size, promote resealable packaging to reduce food waste and promote more energy efficient methods of food preparation by engineering microwaveable packs. For their 2013 Sustainability Report, click here.

Nike: Environmentally friendly football shoes

Nike’s headquarters in the Netherlands used recycled aluminium frames in its construction, and utilizes an underground energy storage system. The company has strict emission standards, and as such as reduced their carbon footprint by approximately 80 percent since the 90s. SF(6), a greenhouse gas, has been phased out of their products, and they continue to research the impact Nike products have on the environment.

By the end of 2011, their environmental initiative, which had been implemented in only 36 percent of their stores in North American stores, had save 3.1 million KWHs of electricity, which equates to over 420 cars off of the road. Most impressively, the initiative showed a 20 percent return on investment.

What’s more, Nike is focusing their green efforts on the manufacture of environmentally-friendly products like the Nike GS 2, released over a year ago. The football show is made from renewable and recycled materials, and has been optimized to reduce weight and waste. Several components of the shoe are made from a minimum of 70 percent recycled materials. For more information about Nike’s environmental impact, click here.

Benefits of running a green business

The benefits from setting some environmentally-friendly plans in place are far-reaching. Perhaps the most attractive upside is saving on energy costs. Chemical manufacturer DuPont saved over $US3 billion over two decades just by reducing their carbon emissions. Switch to renewable energy sources or use compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs, and revel in the savings.

Being known as a green firm could potentially attract like-minded employees and consumers. Sustainability and environmentally-friendly concepts contribute in part to a revolution in the way global companies do business, and the trend has many supporters. Make your environmental initiatives part of your marketing campaigns – advertise the changes you are making on your website. You’ll no doubt garner support from the green community.

Employing these environmentally-friendly plans doesn’t have to be a selfless move – on top of the monetary and personnel benefits, there are also several awards and recognitions for companies that choose to do green business. The Australian Business Awards offer a specific award for sustainability, and Queensland’s Department of Environment and Heritage Protection offers several community, eco-efficiency and innovation awards.

Promoting the green concepts with your employees can have unexpected returns as well. Encouraging healthier diets and more exercise could lead to your workers taking less sick days. Don’t fill your vending machines with sugary snacks and drinks – see if there are more natural options.

Of course, leaving the planet better than we found it so future generations can enjoy it has a pretty big appeal as well.