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How Sustainability is Changing the Way We View Business

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Alex
Digital Marketing Specialist
Aug 4, 2022 • 5 min

Sustainability and green technology are becoming increasingly crucial in companies of all sizes and government organizations. In fact, the market is expected to grow from $10.9 billion in 2021 to a whopping $44.4 Billion by 2028, with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 26.4%.

The appeal of innovations in sustainability is clear to see — the possibility of increasing revenue while improving people’s living standards and minimizing environmental damage almost seems like a dream. Although these are long-term goals, there’s no denying the progress we can potentially achieve through technological advancements. 🚀If you’re wondering how, then keep reading!

In this article, we will look at some sustainable solutions for three key sectors and the benefits they bring. But first, let’s define what it means to be a sustainable business.

What Is Sustainability in Business? ♻️

The core principle of sustainable business is to operate and grow without negatively impacting the environment, economy, or society. Achieving even one of these three goals requires long-term plans and considering countless factors and effects. 

For example, a company that wants to minimize its negative ecological impact must first identify which processes are damaging the environment and by how much. Ikea, the famous home furnishing retailer, analyzed its climate footprint for 2016 (materials being the biggest contributor) and started working from there. In 2021, 56% of their materials were renewable and 17% recycled — a positive initiative among many others the company has launched.

From an economic point of view, sustainability is reasonably straightforward — generating growth in the long run, an objective that companies follow by default. The circular economy concept is relevant here - the idea to keep resources in the economic system for as long as possible. This means repurposing, repairing, or recycling products as much as possible but also using materials to their full extent. The microgrid is an apt example in the energy industry - distributing excess energy across a network to fully leverage every watt of power. ⚡

Lastly, social sustainability is the most open-ended goal, as corporate initiatives need to fit with local issues. There’s no “one size fits all” solution here, but here are some ideas you can adapt to your context:

  • Donating to good causes;
  • Professional development initiatives (organizing workshops or granting employees a budget to invest as they see fit);
  • Organization-wide volunteering or charity programs;
  • Promoting equal-opportunity, work-life balance, and healthy habits within and outside the company;
  • Providing employees with valuable benefits and ensuring their well-being at the workplace.

For us at Wolfpack Digital 🐺, sustainability is not just about specific actions, but it’s about the mindset we are in, as several areas need to connect to ensure a sustainable future: from cherishing the natural environment to understanding the role of physical, mental & emotional wellbeing to support our team’s health sustainably, to encouraging sports, and to making sure our growth as a business is a sustainable one - one that is primarily focused on quality and not quantity. We believe that when the right mindset is present, healthy decisions and microdecisions are more easily made.

Environmental issues and mental health (we have developed two in-house apps to that end) are top priorities. Still, everyone can get involved in the causes they care about the most, both as individuals and as teams. As such, our wolves are avid supporters of Code 4 Romania, an NGO dedicated to providing digital solutions that help the local community with a wide range of challenges they face.

While all sectors are starting to focus more on business sustainability, some industries stand out, either due to being early adopters or to the huge difference sustainability can make in their field of work. In this article, we will look at three such cases:

Better Healthcare for All 💊

Conceptually, sustainability fits perfectly with the healthcare industry’s mission. Having a positive impact on the community’s life is a given with medical services. Financial sustainability and higher turnover can lead to better services and equipment. Lastly, protecting our ecosystem also protects people’s health. 🌲

So, how can organizations within the healthcare space become more sustainable? There is no shortage of answers:

  • Minimize waste in hospitals. Energy-efficient lighting and low-flow fixtures in bathrooms can make a significant difference in the long run, considering that hospitals generally run around the clock. Even medical equipment and stocks can be used more efficiently. For example, Floow2 creates digital platforms through which healthcare and pharmaceutical organizations can share their resources and reduce waste. 
  • Limit the pharmaceutical industry’s effects on the environment. Businesses must have a comprehensive sustainability plan that includes the efficient use of non-toxic ingredients & bio-degradable or recyclable packaging, and eco-friendly shipping solutions.
  • Promote awareness and responsibility. All sustainability initiatives work better when stakeholders are informed and committed to them. That means communicating your organizational goals (and their benefits) to medical personnel, medicine producers, and patients.

More Efficient Transportation 🚅

A typical consumer company’s supply chain accounts for 80% of its carbon footprint and 90% of its impact on air, land, water, biodiversity, and geological resources. Transportation is one of the largest contributing factors to ecological degradation, so it’s a key industry where sustainability initiatives must be implemented.

Implementing better vehicle tracking and analytics methods should be at the top of the list for any transportation business. Collecting this data enables companies to identify inefficiencies in their system, possibly even in real-time. Idling, for example, is estimated to cause 11 million tonnes of carbon dioxide yearly in the U.S. Another example: your vehicles may be taking busier roads instead of better options, resulting in longer driving times, more burnt fuel, and more pollution. Finding and correcting these problems benefits the environment and your revenue. 📈

Let’s look at how that would work in practice. Let’s say that a trucking company uses GPS trackers to monitor vehicle locations and blockchain to record stops, travel distance, and similar stats. After several trips, the company notices that a route always takes longer than expected for all vehicles that use it due to heavy traffic. Through some testing, they find an alternative way to save 30 minutes on each trip and eliminate 45 minutes of idling.

Another valuable action point is to transition to electric vehicles which don’t cause air or noise pollution. Such a move can come with a steep initial investment, but as gas prices rise and electric fueling stations become more common, it will pay for itself in the long run. 🏦

Public transportation is also a key factor in reducing carbon footprints. Trains, in particular, are more eco-friendly than cars. Since people ultimately choose which travel method to choose, sustainable companies must stay competitive and offer excellent UX to attract customers. In this context, digital solutions have proven a valuable tool to address problems efficiently, communicate with passengers, and ensure a pleasant experience.

Digitized Manufacturing 🖥️

Manufacturing processes consume approximately one-third of all the energy we produce. As such, even small efficiency improvements can lead to huge results. As manufacturing lines and companies vary greatly, each organization needs to take responsibility and ideate a sustainability strategy that fits its context.

Manufacturers are used to high operational prices and occasional breakdowns due to the complexity of their assembly lines. With the advent of digital technology, though, it’s becoming easier and easier to keep a vigilant eye on each step of the process:

  • The quantity of used raw materials;
  • Energy consumption;
  • Equipment condition;
  • Product quality;
  • Manufacturing time.

Once a company starts collecting that data, it can begin experimenting, comparing, optimizing, and repurposing its resources. ⚙️ Technological innovation plays an important role here: data gathering helps us define the challenge, but manufacturers often need to develop the solution.

The Sustainable Business Culture 🙌

No matter the industry or company size, there’s no denying that our view as a generation on sustainability is shifting. Initiatives that would have been considered forward-thinking a decade ago are now viewed as basic corporate responsibility, and are even getting regulated.

As such, any sustainability strategy needs to start with the vision and desire to make a positive change in our environment. Moreover, this enthusiasm should be shared across the whole organization and integrated into the company’s culture.

Encourage eco-friendly initiatives from within the team, and ensure that people at all levels follow sustainable best practices. Teambuilding activities to clean waste or nature trips can’t happen every weekend. Still, small routines can make a world of difference. 🌍

Here’s an idea — an optional monthly meeting where all team members can participate, discuss sustainability issues they’re passionate about, organize, and help. From the company’s perspective, the investment is minimal, and you’re empowering your colleagues to work on the causes they truly care about. This is something we also do at Wolfpack Digital.

Thanks to digitalization, rallying to a cause is much simpler, and distance is no longer a barrier. Teams from across the globe can come together to work towards preserving the rainforests in South America, for example. Meeting and communication apps can make a massive difference by connecting people. Custom software and niche digital solutions are already game-changers and play an essential role in this case. As we focus more on ways to help our planet by designing sustainable solutions, the need for digital solutions will grow at the same pace.

We hope you found this article informative and that we’ve inspired you to integrate sustainability into your own projects. We also invite you to read more about our thoughts on mental health and what employers and software developers can do to help others. ✨

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