A few days after the celebration of Earth Day, an awareness-raising initiative first launched in the 1970s, it still seems difficult to reconcile the ecological imperative with economic growth. However, this is indeed what is required of companies today. Confronted almost daily with the changing expectations of their customers, they are called upon to innovate constantly to remain competitive. At the same time, citizens are demanding that they reorient their economic activities towards a more ecological path.
Therefore, what are the levers available to companies to perpetuate their activity while integrating ecological imperatives into their business plan? We have identified 8 levers which, according to him, allow companies to act concretely to make their activity more sustainable. Objective: to allow each company to find, in this list, the levers that make sense for them.
1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!
Known as the 3Rs, this mantra invites companies to conduct an audit to identify departments where processes can be simplified.
The optimization of operations, in production and logistics departments for example, is the first essential step towards sustainability. It contributes to the efficiency of human and financial resources, and thus to the profitability of the company. It is also possible to focus on the consumption of material resources by thinking about optimizing the consumption of packaging, a virtuous action that will not only reduce waste production but also the associated costs.
Flore Berlingen, in her book Recyclage, le grand enfumage (Recycling, the great smoke and mirrors), invites us to prefer reuse to recycling: “In reality, recycling feeds on disposables and contributes to perpetuating their use.”When it comes to thinking about the ecological impact of companies, and individuals, two visions clash according to her: optimizing the exploitation of resources through recycling or reducing their consumption at the source through repair, reuse and reemployment.
2. Focus on renewable energies
About 80% of the world’s primary energy consumption is based on fossil fuels such as coal, crude oil and natural gas. Fossil fuels are not only limited resources; their transformation also releases large amounts of carbon. Renewable energies are therefore a natural and easy to implement alternative.
In France, it is possible to obtain electricity from sustainable suppliers, or to use so-called “off-grid” solutions, such as the use of photovoltaic panels. These are all options that can reduce the carbon footprint of your company.
For heating, there are various systems that use environmental heat from the air, the sun and the earth. 24 m2 of solar panels can save up to 3 tons of CO2 per year. The quest for energy efficiency can also be achieved through intelligent heating and lighting systems that adapt to the working hours of the employees. In this way, it becomes possible to save up to 25% on energy costs and emissions.
3. Training and promoting sustainability in the company
Many large companies have already appointed managers or created entire departments to support the ecological transition of their company. Through training, they raise awareness among employees over the long term, which leads to the implementation of positive actions and sustainable solutions.
As an example, BNP Paribas has launched its corporate commitment intrapreneurship program called People’sLab4Good. The concept aims to support employees in projects with 100% positive impacts. The winners of the call for projects are supported for four months, with around 20 days of training. At the end of the program, 50% of the projects continue to develop within the Group.
4. Implementing a green policy
When done correctly, training can change the behavior of every employee: from the proper use of heating and ventilation in offices and production rooms, to “little things” such as preventing food and water waste, for example. Every employee can contribute to sustainability and help reduce their company’s CO2 emissions. Setting up fun contests or challenges can be a good way to encourage employee involvement.
To encourage employees to practice regular physical activity and to take care of their health, some companies use the United Heroes application. Every week, employees are offered sports and solidarity challenges. This initiative has an environmental component, since all the kilometers covered can be transformed into donations to support associations, particularly those that defend the environment.
5. Choosing transparency to take concrete action
Faced with the need to make an ecological transition in economic activities, declarations and good intentions will not be enough. To generate trust and win the loyalty of customers who no longer tolerate greenwashing, economic players must now opt for transparency by showing the progress they are making. progress they are making towards specific, realistic and measurable environmental objectives, all within a reasonable timeframe. This is precisely what tools like ZEI or Takagreen can do.
Indeed, the Zei platform, which aims to be a real impact gas pedal, supports both companies in reducing their environmental impact and citizens in discovering more sustainable alternatives. The Zei platform was labeled GreenTech Verte in March 2020 by the Ministry of Ecological and Solidarity Transition and now supports several hundred companies in their ecological transition.
6. Building a green supply chain
Analyzing a company’s carbon emissions means taking into account the activities of its service providers and suppliers. It is therefore important to ask how sustainable our suppliers are and to know under what conditions their products are produced and where their raw materials come from.
The more you know about your supply chain, the better you can choose alternative solutions: regional suppliers, climate-neutral service providers, environmentally friendly packaging, etc.
7. Opt for environmentally friendly means of transport
Whether commuting to and from work, travelling in groups or on business, it is important to choose the most environmentally friendly mobility option.
In France, it is easy to use public transport instead of your company car. If it is not possible to do without a company car, why not opt for an electric vehicle? The same principle can be applied to long-distance travel, for example, by using the train instead of air travel.
Many companies already encourage the use of public transport through subsidies or the provision of train tickets. A study by the German Institut für Angewandte Arbeitswissenschaften (IFAA) showed that about 850 million tons of CO2 could be saved in Germany if every employee would telecommute once a week. This example allows us to imagine the positive impact of such a practice in France.
8. Aim for climate neutrality and offset the carbon footprint
It is almost impossible not to produce CO2. Yet there are countless national and international projects that can be supported to offset these emissions.
In these projects, the CO2 emissions of the company are calculated and evaluated. The compensation is then made by supporting a selected project in the form of an offset payment. This payment will be used, for example, to support reforestation efforts or the supply of drinking water and the protection of forests and wildlife.
This gives companies considerable scope for effectively and sustainably reducing their C02 emissions and thus contributing to environmental protection.