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How implementing sustainable practices across all areas of your office can influence greater change

Steph Panecasio

This article is sponsored by Nespresso Professional.  »

In 2019, sustainability needs to be a priority for businesses, given the substantial mutual benefits of remaining competitive in a changing landscape and having an environmental impact.

Increasing your standard of sustainable production and management can have a tangible impact on the day-to-day functioning of your office and, as a result, your company as a whole, but it’s the sort of change that needs to come from the top, with executives and business owners aligning the company’s mission with a view to help reduce of waste and environmental degradation.

These high-level employees are only the beginning, with company-wide policies required to fully integrate a sustainable philosophy into each facet of the business. Enacting full-scale, often global change in the sustainability market hasn’t always been an easy achievement for brands, but it’s imperative for a successful outcome.

Create alignment from the top

Companies like Nespresso have a legacy of championing fully integrated sustainable business practices. CEO Jean-Marc Duvoisin emphasises the importance of ensuring each level of the brand, from conception to consumer, is fully focused on demonstrating the environmental ethos that the company has worked so long to refine.

According to Duvoisin, “Thirty years ago, Nespresso reinvented the way people consumed coffee. Today, the issues facing our planet present ongoing challenges and, we believe, opportunities for the coffee sector.”

“Inspired by the [UN’s] Sustainable Development Goals, Nespresso is well positioned to deliver against the twin needs of sustainable production and consumption. We have a responsibility to again lead the industry by encouraging consumers to make choices that support a sustainable lifestyle.”

Through the work of the company’s sustainability program, The Positive Cup, Nespresso has achieved zero waste-to-landfill since 2014 and 100% renewable electricity since 2017, in addition to strides being made to the livelihood of more than 100,000 farmers in the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program, through which over 93% of Nespresso coffee is sourced. Businesses can enjoy this sustainably sourced coffee with Nespresso Professional coffee solutions.

Introducing policies and programs like these into your own company is entirely achievable, with the Harvard Business Review arguing the introduction of a more comprehensive sustainability strategy can even be the tipping point which makes a company competitive.

An integrated strategy can also affect investment opportunities. According to the Harvard Business School, many investors are now using Environment, Social and Government (ESG) metrics, which take into account the company’s carbon footprint, water usage and diversity, to decide if they want to invest in a company.

If you’re unsure how to implement a strategy across business units, the UN Global Compact has created a Roadmap for Integrated Sustainability that seeks to educate companies on how best to address integration.

The roadmap helps companies focus their attention, emphasising the need to decide which areas of the business are driving progress towards the current sustainability goals and what areas of the business are influential to the business value.

Simple changes, big results

The first step any company should make to have a long-term impact and implement sustainable business practices in a smart way, is to amend corporate policies and practices. This is because, to ensure its success, sustainability needs to move beyond a top-level strategy and be implemented on a daily basis by all members of a company.

The easiest start is by addressing high-volume but low-touch areas of the business. Changes like providing recycling stations for paper, toner, cartridges, and miscellaneous office waste can be small but effective, in conjunction with actively seeking out ways to empower your employees to take action.

Take for instance, your company’s coffee consumption and wastage. This kind of small change is important because coffee is a source of socialisation, according to a study by Galaxy Research Online Omnibus and commissioned by Nespresso Professional, and it’s also historically been a challenge for companies to provide sustainably.

Nespresso provides offices with recycling kits for used Nespresso Professional coffee capsules, a tangible way for everyone to work towards their company’s goals for sustainability — plus employees can bring their own empty capsules from home for easy recycling ensuring both the aluminium and coffee can go on to a second life.

But recycling is only one aspect of sustainability. Through the process of conducting a life cycle analysis, Nespresso concluded that the biggest environmental impact comes from the way coffee is prepared. Factors such as how much energy is needed to heat the water and how much coffee is wasted can have a significant impact on the results.

As a result, Nespresso Professional machines themselves are designed to maximise sustainable outcomes, using the right amount of coffee, water and power for each extraction while offering features including standby modes to reduce electricity consumption.

This holistic approach to sustainable processes is a demonstrable example of how top-down policy implementation and the introduction of proven value chains can have huge benefits on your company’s environmental impact.

It would be worthwhile encouraging your business to always look for office products and suppliers that understand their full value chain, so you know the impact your business is having on the environment, from the paper you use to the coffee you consume.

Because ultimately, the core benefit of creating a business that strives for sustainability in every area cannot be undervalued. It can not only create a driving purpose for your entire company, it can also have an impact on the financial results of the business, with a report on sustainability research from the University of Beijing, concluding sustainability has a “significant positive influence on financial performance.”

Regardless of financial impact, however, the flow-on effect that small changes and sustainable practices can have on the environment are reward enough.

According to Duvoisin, “Companies listen to their customers, and we can hold them to account. For all of us, the stakes could not be higher.”