Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is the process of integrating social and ecological values into a business. Experts refer to this concept as the triple bottom line — people, planet and profit. These efforts divide into three groups, including social, environmental and economic.
As businesses contend with their carbon footprint, emphasis on corporate responsibility grows. Fortunately, companies can incorporate the environmental aspects of CSR in a variety of ways.
1. Improved Supply Chain Efficiency
Boosting the environmental performance of supply chains is a multi-tiered procedure. It requires identifying waste at all levels of production. Some of these steps include decreasing energy consumption and waste production and promoting the use of renewable resources. Supply chain efficiency can reduce a company’s carbon footprint while also enhancing ROI.
2. Investment in Renewable Energy
The depletion of natural resources by industrialization is no secret. Big business is responsible for adding 6.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere every single year. Luckily, there is good news. Corporate response to the climate crisis has taken a sharp turn in the last few months, with companies making pledges to go carbon neutral, and some, like Microsoft, declaring a plan to become carbon negative by 2030.
3. Philanthropic Investments
Investing in environmental endeavors is a crucial piece of every organization’s strategic plan. The path towards sustainability may be a bit more complex for some, however, depending on the industry. For example, if there are not more sustainable alternatives available, you may choose to put money towards a cause elsewhere. Data also proves that stakeholders, especially consumers, pay close attention to a company’s philanthropic choices.
4. Reducing Packaging Waste
Particularly in the food and personal goods sector, companies are making changes to the packaging they utilize. Businesses that traditionally use plastic are turning towards alternatives such as glass, recycled plastic or aggregates. Specialized certifications, such as Cradle to Cradle, also accredit companies based on a set of sustainable principles, including material use, water consumption, renewable energy and social integrity.
5. Mindful Water Consumption
Large corporations, such as Johnson & Johnson, have taken steps towards identifying their water footprint. The Alliance Energy Corporation asserts that companies use more than half of the water available for human use in industrialized countries. Measuring water consumption is the first step in reducing waste. It can also result in considerable cost savings.
6. Rethinking Lighting
Regardless of the infrastructure where your building is, lighting likely plays a major role in your overall footprint. Most new construction in the United States utilizes LEDs and other energy-efficient lighting systems. Investing in more environmentally options can also contribute to your overall renewable energy goals. For example, JP Morgan has invested in efficient lighting as a step towards their goal of 100% renewable energy down the line.
7. Environmentally-Conscious Construction
Corporations are making a conscious effort to reduce their environmental footprint by paying attention to how they build their infrastructure. A well-known example many companies are investing in is LEED certification. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is a third-party verification that improves upon water usage, energy efficiency, emission reduction and attention to the overall ecological impact.
8. Waste Removal
Every business reduces waste. Simply decreasing the amount of waste produced is only one part of improving your carbon footprint. Handling and disposing of waste is another essential consideration. When implementing a new waste removal strategy, it’s crucial to set objectives so that you can analyze optimizations as you make progress. Waste removal is most effective when employees are directly involved and feel responsible for their role.
9. Efficient Transportation
From changing how employees get to work each day to adjusting product delivery, looking at eco-friendly transportation alternatives is a vital aspect of your CSR. Teleworking and electric car charging stations, for instance, helps companies reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Improving this aspect of businesses can result in cost-savings, too. By utilizing data analytics to reduce fuel usage and maximize route efficiency, UPS saved 3 million gallons of fuel between 2010 and 2012.
10. Innovative Technology
Regardless of the size or industry of a business, technology has a massive influence on how it operates. Eco-innovation, the process of using technology for sustainable purposes, plays a significant role in identifying possible energy alternatives and creating solutions for difficult situations. The United Nations Environment Programme reports that eco-innovation will be the deciding factor in finding solutions to complex environmental challenges, creating tools that do not yet exist.
Consider These Environmental Aspects of CSR
The environmental aspects of CSR work to balance ecological considerations with economic success. In the long term, environmental impact plays a major role in a company’s overall financial stability. Reducing energy consumption, investing in renewable resources and involving employees in waste management efforts are all aspects of environmental CSR that can reduce your carbon footprint.
Prioritizing sustainability is not just about being kinder to the planet, it’s about investing in a successful future for your business.