How can businesses integrate sustainability into their current business model?

By Lauren Williamson

Businesses all around the world are being pressured to adopt more sustainable business practices. The Sustainability Goals set by the UN for the year 2020 are unlikely to be met unless drastic action is taken at both the macro and microeconomic level.

The Paris Agreement, which was signed by over 190 countries at the end of 2015 is promising, however investor-owned and state-owned businesses from around the world account for the largest contribution to pollution. Furthermore, local businesses are also guilty of not prioritising sustainability practices, thus contributing to the problem.

It doesn’t have to be doom and gloom. Businesses have the choice to restructure their business model so that sustainable practices are implemented and that contributions to carbon emissions, waste and environmental degradation are reduced.

Leverage new technologies that promote sustainability

There are several eco-friendly technologies on the market that can be implemented into the running operations of a business.

Rather than forcing businesses to adapt to change, the technologies allow the business to operate as usual while incorporating the eco-friendly changes that the business desires. Some of popular solutions include the following:

Upgrading to energy efficient lighting

Making the switch from incandescent bulbs to halogen or eco-friendly LED lights has allowed businesses to reduce their lighting consumption by up to 60 per cent per year.

Not only has it helped businesses reduce their contribution to carbon emissions, but it has also helped them reduce their overhead costs, thus increasing their overall profits.

Upgrading to a ‘green’ office

Green office designs are growing in popularity because of the benefits that they provide to the environment as well as the cost reductions that they provide. Some of the ways sustainability initiatives have been incorporated into green offices include:

  • Rainwater harvesting from the building’s drainage system.
  • Architectural design that allows the building to be more dependant on natural light.
  • The use of green walls to minimise the building’s temperature.
  • Indoor plants to keep the air fresh within the building.
  • Harvesting solar energy to power the building.
  • Installing water efficient toilets.
  • Installing energy efficient hand dryers such as air blades


Businesses can make huge improvements to their businesses’ sustainability practices by partnering with organisations that specialise in sustainable practices such as recycling or manufacturers that use eco-friendly materials.

Instead of trying to make the business change its practices, leverage the expertise of organisations that already have processes in place. For example, partner with recycling businesses that offer a pick-up service, which will help to minimise your business’s contribution to landfill.

Seek out incentive schemes

There are incentive programmes from local governments that can help your business improve its sustainability practices. For example, state governments in Australia are offering subsidies for businesses that upgrade to energy efficient solutions.

Improving behavioural habits

Businesses need to educate the people in their organisation about sustainable habits. Many people grow up in a ‘throw away’ culture where they quickly dispose of items and contribute to landfill. Additionally, they waste energy and other resources because they don’t see the impact that it has on them.

Businesses can improve behaviour through incentive programmes such as the money that is saved from energy consumption is put towards an event sponsored by the organisation.

Implement eco-friendly distribution channels

Many businesses are unaware of how much their supply chain contributes to environmental problems. Typically, it is a result of carbon emissions from burned fossil fuels that are used to create energy or that’s used for fuel.

Some businesses are addressing the problem by minimising distribution routes and sourcing clean energy suppliers.

Businesses need to reevaluate their business model to create a sustainable business where profits are maximised and the actions of the business positively impact communities and the environment.

This story, originally entitled “How can businesses integrate sustainability into their current business model?” originally appeared on e27.

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