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6 Most Common Sustainability Mistakes Businesses Makes

Updated: Aug 7, 2020

Our environment is getting more and more polluted by each passing day –with old ways of industries being the major contributor to problems like water and earth pollution.  Pesticides, toxins, and chemicals leaked out from the factories and poisoned many areas. Smoke coming from the same places polluted the air and sped up global warming by many years, bringing us close to the disaster!

Therefore, waking up now and incorporating sustainability into businesses, is one of the most important elements all entrepreneurs should consider, but, unfortunately, it is the one that is often the most overlooked. Many large, global companies are now embracing sustainability, and are very public about the changes they are making

Let’s look at a few examples of sustainability initiatives taken by companies: 

  • Nike and Adidas:  Nike has focused on reducing waste and minimizing its footprint, whereas Adidas has created a greener supply chain and targeted specific issues like dyeing and eliminating plastic bags.

  • Unilever and Nestlé: Unilever notably on organic palm oil and its overall waste and resource footprint, and Nestlé in areas such as product life cycle, climate, water efficiency, and waste.

  • Walmart, IKEA, and H&M have moved toward more sustainable retailing, largely by leading collaboration across their supply chains to reduce waste, increase resource productivity and optimize material usage. It also has taken steps to address local labor conditions with suppliers from emerging markets. 

  • Singapore’s leading real estate player – CDL has established the longest history amongst Singapore companies to have a dedicated Sustainability department with climate action initiatives like – Saving Glacier Alliances, Ecobank Collection Drive – for recycling and waste management, etc. CDL is also named as one of the most sustainable real estate company in World Finance’s Sustainability Awards 2020

  • In biopharma, Biogen and Novo Nordisk have both worked toward energy efficiency, waste reduction, and other ecological measures. They have also focused on social impact via partner initiatives in the areas of health and safety.

  • In financial services, we see how banks like ANZ and Westpac in Australia both advance local communities with good sustainability practices and by embedding sustainability in their business processes and culture.

  • Leading player in financial services  – DBS bank is also practicing responsible business practices like managing environmental footprint through sustainable practices, behavior, and technology. 

  • Car manufacturers like BMW and Toyota have made strides on energy efficiency and pollution reduction, not to mention Tesla as an outsider really challenging the industry’s overall footprint.

Clearly, it's important for businesses to be sustainable. However, too many companies rush into 'going green' without giving enough thought to details, strategy, and the bigger picture goals of what they are trying to achieve. Here are a few mistakes that companies make when trying to go green:

1. Not giving the whole effort

Most companies consider their tasks done by sending a team out to pick litter once a year or holding a fundraiser for an environmental charity. However, it is important to understand the difference between CSR and Sustainability responsibilities and act accordingly. 

Creating a sustainable business requires 100% commitment to reducing the undesirable outputs of your business, such as your carbon footprint, and increasing the desirable elements, such as sustainable employment. Companies should look at the bigger picture and take initiatives to help the environment and people at the same time. Something like encouraging people to come to work on a bicycle or a bus or giving free bus or metro tickets, encouraging a no-plastics policy could be a great start.  2. Operating in the wrong kind of building

It’s important that your organization operates in a building that was designed with sustainability. Otherwise, your eco-friendly efforts will be on the back foot from the start. You should also make sure that there are proper recycling options, that everything from electricity to heating is eco-friendly in your building.

3. Not investing in smart technology

Businesses waste a lot of energy by not turning electrical items off when they aren’t being used. A printer machine could be consuming energy throughout the day when it has been left to idle. The same goes for artificial lighting that’s being used in an area where nobody is using it. Investing in smart appliances that will power down when they are not in use will reduce the amount of energy consumption is used.

4. Not having a proper recycling policy

Many businesses make sustainability mistakes when it comes to not utilizing recycling in their small business. Businesses should have a long-term goal of closing the waste loop by implementing recycling practices within their organization. If the company is in a growth phase and cannot afford to have a dedicated internal resource to manage the organization’s sustainability efforts, it should partner with a specialist organization that will be able to manage the recycling process. 

5. Underestimating the power of marketing

It could be fatal to assume that your customer is stupid, but they also have lives and they don't have the time and energy to spend hours analyzing your carbon footprint and your products' lifecycle.  If you don't actively market and EXPLAIN your company's legitimate green initiatives - no-one is going to know about them.  Don't assume that because your business is doing the right thing, people are just going to naturally find out about it -- you need to tell consumers and market your green initiatives. 6. Not having a sustainability policy

Sustainability can be better implemented when the primary business activities & strategy are re-designed to incorporate environmental, social & economic sustainability. If any established business processes or practices are unsustainable and are leaving huge adverse impacts on society or the environment, then those processes or practices need to modify to reduce the adverse impact. If a business doesn’t have it yet, then a sustainability policy needs to be created to form sustainable business ethics & create the right principle of action for the business. 

The of the most effective way to ensure sustainability to your building is to do Energy Audit. The digital energy auditor, like Qi Square’s Virtual Audit, has multiple goals including reducing energy consumption, managing costs, and environmental impact. Improving the energy performance of existing buildings through energy retrofit measures is a great opportunity for developing sustainability in building structures and developing a green building economy.

Contact us now and start saving on your energy bills from today by getting your building’s virtual energy audit done. 

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