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What is Sustainability?
Sustainability is a complex concept. The most often quoted definition comes from the UN World Commission on Environment and Development: “sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (Source: https://www.sustain.ucla.edu/about-us/what-is-sustainability/)
Sustainability deals with maintaining the Earth’s scarce resources through the responsible use of these resources. In an effort to get the most out of natural resources with the least amount of damage to the environment, it is necessary to reduce, reuse, and recycle.
Reducing the amount of pollution your company creates helps preserve the land as it naturally is and provide resources for generations to come. By reusing resources, your company can not only help protect natural resources but also save money by reducing costs associated with harvesting new resources. By recycling, your company can protect resources, cut costs, and even profit by selling your recycled materials to other companies. Having a sustainability initiative for your company will not only financially benefit your company but will also show that your company cares about all your customers and their concerns about maintaining the environment.
The four steps involved in sustainability in an industrial atmosphere:
- The first step is to eliminate or at least decrease the rate at which humans extract resources from the earth.
- The second step is to decrease the production of plastics and other non-biodegradable products that create waste.
- The third step is to more consciously and efficiently use the land in regards to agriculture, forestry, and animal cultivation.
- The last step is to create better working conditions for all workers so they may more successfully provide for themselves.
Corporate sustainability is a growing concern among investors who not only seek economic profit but also social good. Environmental Social Governance (ESG) investment represents the 3 pillars of sustainable investing: environmental, socially responsible, and governance. With the growth of socially responsible funds and Exchange Trade Funds (ETFs), corporate sustainability may ultimately add a competitive edge to a company’s Bottom-Line.
Perhaps more importantly, a sustainability strategy that is publicly shared can deliver intangible benefits such as public goodwill and a better reputation. If it helps a company get credit for things they are already doing, then why not? For the companies that cannot point to an overall vision to improve in these three pillars, however, there isn’t a real market consequence — yet. The trend seems to be making sustainability and a public commitment to basic business practices, much like compliance is for publicly traded companies. If this comes to pass, then companies lacking a sustainability plan could see a market penalty, in contrast to proactive companies seeing a market premium.
Residents and corporations can work to promote sustainability through practices that include recycling, a reduction of air and water pollution, and a shift toward green practices to preserve natural resources for future generations.
The environmental sustainability factor often gets the most attention. Companies are focusing on reducing their carbon footprints, packaging waste, water usage, and their overall effect on the environment. Companies have found that when they fulfill their moral obligation of protecting the environment, the results show financial benefits from greater public acceptance to their products and services. Sometimes corporations become eligible to obtain grants and discounts from government agencies for their efforts in environmental sustainability.
It is the inclusion of the economic aspect and profitmaking that makes it possible for corporations to come on board with sustainability strategies. The economic arguments prove to be counterweights to extreme measures that corporations are sometimes pushed to adopt, such as abandoning fossil fuels or chemical fertilizers instantly rather than adapting gradual phase-out.
A sustainable business has a social responsibility to earn the support and approval of its employees, stakeholders, and the community it operates in. The approaches to securing and maintaining this support are various, but it comes down to treating employees fairly and being a good neighbor and community member, both locally and globally. The reputation of being a socially responsible corporation comes from demonstrated commitment to the protection of social causes such as environmental protection and sourcing from environmentally and socially responsible providers. An example is the sourcing of paper for corrugated products from a company who procures raw materials from conserved forests and does not use illegal logging.
- Socially conscious corporations and employees should seek Environmental Sustainability certificates.
- Sustainability certification is most popularly sought after by packaging Industries where, either due to customer demand or government pressure, they need to source from sustained forest resources.
- Environmental Sustainability certificates are mandatory for most automotive parts manufacturing companies where they are responsible for their products until the end of life of the product.
- The senior leadership group and staff work group who work in partnership with conservation groups must get sustainability certification through adherence to Chain of Custody standards to prove their fulfillment of social responsibilities.
- Companies causing most damage to the environment, such as chemical industries, plastic industries, paper based industries, and packaging industries, must all consciously seek environmental sustainability certification as a part of their social responsibility.
- Chain of Custody (COC)
- Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI)
- Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC)
- Chain of Custody (COC)
- ISO 14001 – Environmental Management Standard
- Sustainabiltiy gives your company credibility as a supplier concerned with the protection of global resources in today’s economy.
- Sustainabiltiy provides a new level of community engagement as your company works to reduce the concerns of people native to lands where supplies are sourced or used.
- Sustainabiltiy provides access to new markets as most large companies prefer to buy from eco-friendly suppliers. This can increase your company’s market share.
- Sustainabiltiy protects valuable resources from being used up to the point of irreversible damage.
All customers of Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers of Automotive Parts have made it mandatory to obtain environmental certfications as per ISO 14001:2015. Similarly, customers of packaging industries are demanding that packaging companies have a certificate for Chain-of-Custody standards and prove their commitment to the conservation of forests. This customer expectation is met through certifications. QSE trains, provides a simplified documentation system, and guides until your company is certified to desired standards.
Risk Associated with Corporate Responsibility
QSE helps organizations identify the risks involved in sourcing from not certified providers and the methods to mitigate the risk through proper sourcing.
Profitability Connection to Business Sustainability
QSE makes it a point to establish to corporations that going in for certification improves their customer base and profitability by attracting investors with better pricing based on their globally acceptable certifications.
Sustainability Related Terminology
QSE incorporates all sustainability terminology in its documentation to avoid findings during audits or while seeking government aid as promoted by government from time to time.
Establish Sustainability Objectives and Targets with Business/ Environmental Indicators
QSE’s templates are perfected to identify, create, and disseminate all sustainability factors of business for total implementation within the organization and have evidence to show to auditors regarding sustainability targets and the means to achieve them.
Design Products to Meet Sustainability Objectives or Targets
QSE’s template-based documentation and training ensure that organizations meet design requirements to meet environmentally sustainable targets and objectives.
Disseminate Customer Expectations to Supply Chain/Procurement Channels
QSE’s simplified documentation ensures that all sustainability-related customer expectations are communicated to all employees and external providers (suppliers) for meeting or exceeding customer expectations. QSE creates evidence to that effect to prove the point during your sustainability certification audit.
Apply Right Tools / Techniques / Standards for Sustainability Certification
Documentation and Training developed by QSE ensure that proper tools will be built in to the system as required per selected standard, and we train personnel to fully implement them for best results.
Measure / Monitor / Audit for Sustainability Certification
QSE‘s documentation includes methods to measure, monitor, and audit all processes to ensure adherence to the standard’s requirements and obtain certifications without a nonconformity.
Implement Solutions Using Disciplined Methodology for Sustainability Certification
QSE aids organizations in finding solutions to problems both technical or functional through statistical and other scientific techniques to find lasting solutions and continual improvements in operations.
Conduct Management Review and Continually Improve for Sustainability Certification
QSE’s unique, evidence-based, Simplified Documentation System has detailed templates for use during management review. These templates provide for a systematic review and the recording of Action Items emerging out of Management Review. It is rare that any company will have an audit finding on Management Review when the QSE system is fully implemented.
Recognize and Reward for Sustainability Certification
QSE provides all kinds of support in identifying the great contributors to the success of the projects and make recommendations to management to recognize the efforts in a manner which befits the organization to keep up the morale of the contributors.