Today's trends for tomorrow's business
Pathways to a Sustainable Culture
March 17, 2019
and the hidden benefits
Many small business owners might hear the words “environmental sustainability” and roll their eyes. Who has time for such altruism? How does being sustainable even matter for a growing business?
Truth be told, it matters quite a lot. Today, your company’s reputation depends just about as much on what you do for the world around you as it does on your product features or service and support.
In fact, a global survey last year by American Express and Oxford Economics found nearly 75 percent of shoppers actively seek out businesses that offer sustainable products and services. And nearly 90 percent of small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) said they see sustainable and ethical business practices as key drivers for growth and profitability.
What’s more, 76 percent of SMBs believe there is a growing market opportunity for ethical, transparent and locally-sourced products.
If you’re not among these companies, then it’s time to seriously consider putting environmental sustainability at the center of your business strategy. Not only will you feel better about your company (and yourself), you’ll save money by reducing waste and drive new business with customers who appreciate your commitment to reducing carbon emissions.
How do we know? Well, in 2017, at least $700 million of HP revenues involved sales where sustainability factors were a consideration.
Here are some ideas:
1. Build sustainability into your culture
The best time to make sustainability a part of who you are as an organization is to do it from the very beginning. Fortunately, if you’re a new and emerging business you’re in great shape to do this. Even if you are not, these ideas will easily port over to established businesses.
Start by putting together a long-term sustainability plan. Don’t worry about it being perfect. You’ll update it once or more each year. As a first step in this effort, make sure to bake environmental commitment into your mission statement (hopefully you have one of those).
Pick a few target areas where you want your company to make a difference - say, picking up litter from local neighborhoods or trimming paper waste by 10 or 20 percent - and regularly communicate your progress to the staff.
If you make noteworthy gains that other companies might benefit knowing about, talk about it in social media, to the press or during environmental events like Earth Day (April 22nd this year).
Remember: the key to a nascent culture’s success is ensuring that everyone in a company - from the CEO to sales reps in the field to your partner - lives, loves and believes in what you stand for.
2. Enforce power management on all devices
Ever walked through a corridor and noticed bright, white computer screens glaring at you from desks along the way? Do you typically leave your computer on at the end of the day? Both practices can be huge energy wasters, which means they are costing your business money.
All you need to do to solve this is set power management policies for your employees. Have them go to power-and-sleep in Windows 10 and tell them what the company’s standard settings should be (if you don’t have an IT department to do it for them).
Ensure their computers go to sleep after a few hours of non-use, have a rule about the level of screen brightness and tell them they should not turn the PC off-and-on, since that uses more energy.
By the way, you should only be using ENERGY STAR-labeled office equipment. This gear can provide drastic savings - as much as 75 percent on some products. Overall, ENERGY STAR-labeled office products use about half the electricity of standard equipment.
3. Consider Managed Print Services
One of the things you learn when building a business is when to do something yourself and when it makes more sense to delegate certain tasks to someone else. A professional who may cost a little more up front, but ultimately saves you a whole lot of time and money in the long run, might be the way to go.
That’s the idea behind managed print services (MPS), an approach every growing business should consider. With managed print, you basically outsource responsibility for managing your printer fleet to an outside expert. This expert will study your organization’s printing habits, determine how many printers employees require, where the devices should be installed in different offices and the best way to manage them.
This often leads to printer consolidation or replacing older machines with newer, more energy-efficient ones. It could also involve ensuring you have just the right amount of ink and toner on hand at any given time - that employees aren’t tossing cartridges before they’re truly spent. The pros would also program machines in the fleet to print more efficiently by, for instance defaulting to printing on both sides of a sheet of paper.
In total, MPS can help reduce printing costs by 10 percent to 30 percent, paper waste by 25 percent and energy use by 20 percent to 40 percent.
4. Subscribe to Instant Ink
If you’re not using MPS (or even if you are), you might consider joining the HP Instant Ink service.
Because modern printers are wireless and online, they can communicate across the digital ether with the company designing and engineering your toner and ink.
This means it’s possible to alert the home office that you’re running low and send replacement cartridges before you actually run out. Not all HP printers are eligible for the service, but you may find a model that suits your work environment perfectly.
You get this convenience for a reasonable monthly fee that’s based on how many pages you typically print. You also receive a postage-paid envelope to return your spent cartridges for recycling.
Instant Ink cartridges contain 50 percent to 75 percent recycled content. The service itself also helps trim the energy used to make cartridges by 86 percent, and water use is slashed by 89 percent. It’s pretty slick.
5. Join the circular economy
If you manufacture anything, chances are pretty high you follow an older “take, make and dispose” approach. This means you make it, sell it and forget it. Ultimately, the product may end up in a landfill.
But with the global population on pace to hit 9.4 billion by 2050 and landfills overflowing with plastics and other toxic materials that won’t decompose for decades or even centuries, this approach simply isn’t feasible.
That’s why companies of all sizes need to be leaders and champions in driving toward a more circular, low carbon economy. A Circular Economy is regenerative by definition. It involves companies designing products that, when they reach their end-of-life, can easily be recycled and returned to production - possibly by the original manufacturer.
HP® for instance, has a Device as a Service (DaaS) approach where it provides business customers with access to a full portfolio of modern personal systems products as well as IT and life cycle management services.
With DaaS, business customers can upgrade their products every two to three years while avoiding the up-front costs of purchasing.
When customers are finished with the products, HP® manages all hardware and software migration and decommissioning, which includes refurbishing or responsibly disposing of old products. Historically, approximately 90 percent of returned products have retained value and are reused.
Every SMB should strive to become more sustainable. Customers and employees want it, and business realities suggest it’s a smart way to go. By starting with these five tips, businesses can embrace sustainability early in their development and derive significant benefit over time.