Growth goes green

Members of the House of Lords are calling on the government to do more to tackle commercial and industrial waste, rather than focusing on household waste.

In the ‘Waste Reduction’ report produced by the House of Lords Science Committee they conclude that the government should restructure the way local authorities deal with rubbish to allow them to address the high volumes of waste produced by the commercial and industrial sectors.

The report puts the blame for waste firmly at the door of business. Their Lordships’ logic seems to be that businesses are just producing waste for the hell of it and that consumers consuming has very little to do with it.

Unfortunately the report’s recommendations are already looking dated. Recent research shows that it is business not government that is leading the way on sustainability

According to a recent survey from the American magazine Industry Week, 66% of US manufacturers believe there is a market for more expensive and greener products in their industry.

Over 300 North American manufacturing, operations and supply chain executives were asked to reveal where their greening efforts are being focused, how they’re being managed and financed, and how the outlook for eco-products is changing.

The survey, conducted by EFT Research, discovered that the corporate mindset around environmental initiatives is changing, and the need to invest in innovative products and new technologies is growing.

With 77% of manufacturing executives in agreement that energy prices will rise significantly next year, the focus of operations budgets is turning sharply towards how to cut the dependence on oil. With this in mind, EFT asked respondents to pinpoint what real projects they are investing in, what the challenges and barriers have been, and where they are seeing an ROI. The report revealed that the vast majority of respondents, 95%, agree that green manufacturing will continue to expand.

Furthermore, 66% believe there to be a market for more expensive and greener products in their industry. The finding showed that it’s not just the increased profits that are driving green initiatives – 43% of respondents report that environmental imperatives have resulted in improved efficiency and product quality for their operation.

To achieve results from green efforts 65% of respondents were investing in recycling and reuse programs. Additionally water reduction programs (58%), continuous improvement (54%), energy management (50%), environmental management (46%), materials management (36%), establishing a corporate green team (33%), and supplier management (32%) are all being used to make manufacturing leaner, greener and more profitable.

When asked how they view green manufacturing initiatives, 84% said that they see them as part of an overall optimization strategy.

Indeed, 96% of executives agree that environmental initiatives and traditional business objectives were far from mutually exclusive, and can and should be combined to move businesses forward.

In the UK this view has been echoed recently by non-other than Sir Terry Leahy chief executive of Tesco who said, “All too often, politicians and businessmen have said to me: ‘You’re a businessman, so surely you’re opposed to the green agenda'”

“They think you cannot make a profit and go green. They think a consumer society cannot be a green society. And they believe that developing economies cannot afford to go green.

“From my perspective, this is all muddled thinking. I fundamentally disagree, and say that if we want long-term growth, we must go green.”

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