The sustainability opportunity
With the overall benefits of sustainable business practices growing more and more obvious, leading companies are understandably enthusiastic about the value sustainability can add to their organisations. But while the long-term financial benefits are attractive, in the short-term we all have to deal with limited budgets. Getting started is often extremely challenging. Based on our experience with a wide range of leading New Zealand companies, we’ve found several low or no-cost ways to help turn your sustainability visions into action:
Focus on material issues
Material issues are the ones that matter the most. Make sure you identify what these are by proactively engaging with your stakeholders. This isn’t just your management team and staff, but includes your customers, suppliers, and regulators. While it may seem obvious that focusing your time and budget on material issues is the most effective approach, some businesses try to measure and manage too many issues and ultimately dilute the effectiveness of their sustainability efforts. There are a number of different approaches to help identify material issues such as The Natural Step Framework, the Mauri model and risk assessment tools.
Visualise your strategy
A picture is worth a 1000 words, and as people are becoming less inclined to read 1000 words, imagery is becoming increasingly important. We’ve found creating a visual map of a strategy, rather than keeping it locked in a document or spreadsheet is the best way to communicate a shared sustainability vision. You can take a ‘Post-It note’ approach or use the ‘ecoWheel’ (pictured right) which we have developed specifically for this purpose.
Pick the low-hanging fruit
Low-hanging fruit are easiest to access and deliver the fastest rewards. Picking these quick-win projects helps raise the awareness of the value of sustainability and goes a long way to securing the budget for bigger, longer-term projects. A great place to start is to celebrate the good things that are already being achieved in the organisation as this creates momentum and inspiration to motivate other sustainability initiatives.
Create a team of champions
Sustainability shouldn’t be the sole responsibility of any one person in an organisation. However in many cases we have seen very ‘lonely’ sustainability managers. Creating a team of sustainability champions is key – all you need to do is provide the staff that are engaged in sustainability issues with opportunities to create improvements. Your team will help achieve targets and naturally embed sustainable business practices into the culture of your organisation.
Streamline your processes
At the coal face, sustainability often means effectively managing health and safety, environmental and quality issues. Systems to manage these issues are all based on the ‘plan’, ‘do’, ‘check’ and ‘act’ principles and they can often be combined into one integrated system. This will streamline the processes people use on a daily basis, reduce frustration, save time and lead to a happier auditor.
ecoPortal has developed a suite of solutions to help companies achieve their short - and long-term sustainability goals. These solutions are delivered to organisations through sustainability, Health & Safety, Environmental and Quality (HSEQ) experts such as Morphum in New Zealand. Together, Morphum and ecoPortal have helped Unitec raise the awareness of environmental sustainability amongst staff and students to 67% with a collaboratively tailored sustainability strategy. The solutions have also helped Autex reduce energy costs by 50%, achieve zero waste to landfill and helped halve the time Fonterra Brands spends preparing for environmental audits. • ecoWheel is a sustainability strategy visualisation tool. It illustrates the current position of a company’s business practices, shows where they should be in the future, and presents a road map highlighting the way to get there. • ecoPortal turns sustainability strategy into action. It is an easy-to-use online management system which includes all the tools to measure, manage, and report on complex sustainability and health & safety, environmental and quality issues.
The team at Morphum ensure that organisations maximise the benefits of ecoPortal by embedding sustainability into all operational systems and processes. They achieve this by customising each implementation, recognising the existing attributes, culture and systems of the organisation. They bring a collaborative stakeholderfocused approach to developing strategy, and have a deep technical capability to create ideas and resolve any environmental certification or compliance issue quickly and efficiently.
For more information see ecoportal.com and morphum.com