Are businesses hurting themselves when they work against sustainability initiatives?
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More than half of the companies looking to improve their eco-efficiency are doing so to cut costs, new research has found.
Companies are also seeking to enhance their corporate reputation and manage risks by focusing on implementing eco-friendly practices. Overall, the researchers found that 52 percent of respondents say eco-efficiency is a high and growing priority for their business.
"Eco-efficiency has traditionally been thought of as energy only, but companies that employ a broader strategy are finding opportunities to reduce costs and impacts for other expenses such as fuel, waste, packaging and water," said Don Reed, managing director in Price Waterhouse Cooper's Sustainable Business Solutions practice, which conducted the research. "By identifying opportunities across the full organization and taking advantage of the financial incentives offered by governments and utilities, companies can quickly realize direct and indirect financial savings."
Business executives admit there are a few easy areas of improvement that many companies are missing out on. Fifty-two percent of executives say they can reduce energy usage and 27 percent say they can reduce waste. Additionally, companies can upgrade lighting and their fleet of vehicles and reduce water usage in their attempt to become more eco-friendly, the researchers suggest.
Even with easy fixes, the cost of implementing other solutions is a big impediment for companies looking to go green. Nearly 40 percent of respondents say that a lack of funds is a big barrier to implementing eco-friendly practices. And 21 percent of respondents say they also have trouble with management support and the ability of their company to implement those measures.
"Beyond the cost focus, company leaders are looking at other motivating factors, including strengthened reputation, reduced risk and improved employee and customer experience," Reed said. "Being more efficient and reducing environmental impacts means thinking and acting differently and companies need to learn how to understand and measure benefits of their eco-efficiency initiatives to really maximize the value and returns."
The research was based on the responses of 600 business professionals.