As climate change, global pollution, and other environmental crises have escalated over the years, sustainability has become much more than just a trend or a buzzword. Public concern about reducing the negative impact our lifestyles have on the planet is now at an all-time high. More and more people the world over are making a conscious effort to reduce waste, to contribute to environmental restoration initiatives, and to use natural resources more prudently. In turn, they’ve also come to increasingly expect that the businesses they support will do their part to preserve the environment for future generations.
The concept of environmental sustainability has developed into a movement that’s now spreading steadily across nearly every industry in the world. As part of our own commitment to sustainability, we at Grab are eager to help our GrabFood and GrabMart merchant-partners learn all they can about how to do more environmentally and socially responsible business. Read on for an in-depth exploration of sustainability in business, its many benefits, and some concrete, actionable tips for more sustainable operations.
Understanding Sustainability in Business
Traditionally, the generation of profit is known as an enterprise’s “bottom line,” and all company activities and initiatives tend to revolve around the main goal of enhancing financial performance. Companies design business strategies and make decisions primarily to generate the highest possible profits at the lowest possible cost, with a minimal amount of risk.
For many firms, the pursuit of profit has always been the be-all and end-all. Nowadays, however, more businesses are seeing value in embracing the “triple bottom line,” a business concept that argues it’s in companies’ best interest to assess their environmental and social impact in addition to profitability. Business leaders around the world are now finding ways to leverage their enterprises as forces for positive social and environmental change without sacrificing financial viability. In fact, multiple studies have shown that adopting sustainability initiatives can even make a business more successful.
Embracing sustainability in business involves caring about people and about the planet in addition to profit, and it also entails redesigning one’s business practices and activities accordingly. Ensuring fair and equitable hiring practices, encouraging employee volunteerism, reducing waste and pollution, and switching to sustainably sourced water and electricity are just a few important sustainability moves companies can make.
Benefits of Being an Environmentally Responsible Business
Sustainability in business is not only beneficial for the planet but for people and companies as well. Enterprises that embrace more environmentally and socially responsible business practices enjoy the following significant benefits:
Sustainability is concerned, in large part, with conserving human and material resources, and this concern lends itself naturally to designing more efficient workflows. Sustainable businesses won’t hesitate to revisit and revamp their regular operations in the interest of streamlining employee effort. They’re also likely to be more proactive about employee welfare and support, as they’re well aware that satisfied and healthy employees are also likely to be more productive.
Reduced Business Costs
Rather than taking away from corporate profit, sustainable business practices are proven to help companies reduce their operational costs. Reducing water usage, for instance, is not only environmentally beneficial but also allows foodservice and retail businesses to earn substantial savings. Workplace recycling and repurposing helps cut waste disposal costs and reduces the need to purchase new materials.
Energy conservation initiatives can be as simple as keeping lights and air conditioning off when not in use or as complex as a company-wide switch to renewable energy sources. While high-impact efforts are likely to be expensive to implement upfront, their long-term benefits are substantial enough to justify the initial investment.
Better Brand Image
Consumers today are more likely to take a company’s environmental impact into consideration when purchasing products and services. A sizable percentage actively desire to support sustainable and ethical companies. As a result, contemporary businesses have come under significant pressure in recent years to be transparent about their social and environmental values. Their customers now also expect them to operate in ways that observably reflect these values, such as by promoting recycling or renewable energy.
Efforts to protect the planet and actively support local communities have been at the heart of many recent successful advertising campaigns. This suggests that working to affect positive change is also an efficient way to drive brand awareness and inspire customer loyalty. In light of this, it’s especially important for members of a sustainable business to practice what it preaches. Employees help enhance their company’s brand image by living out its values and passing the positive habits it encourages on to their families, friends, and beyond.
Appeal to Potential Investors and Employees
People and organizations generally favor the idea of contributing positively to their society. They also certainly don’t want to be associated with business entities that frequently come under fire for poor environmental or social practices. Hence, it’s to a company’s benefit to present itself as serious about environmental stewardship and respectful of its stakeholders. Holding this position gives the company a competitive advantage when it comes to courting new investors and attracting talented new employees.
Worldwide discussion on climate change, flagging natural resources, and environmental degradation has pushed governments to enact more stringent environmental policies. Adopting more sustainable business practices can help companies keep ahead of changing regulations and allow them to meet new compliance requirements quickly and efficiently.
Tips for More Sustainable Business Operations
At Grab Philippines, we encourage our GrabFood and GrabMart merchant-partners to adopt measures and solutions that many sustainable businesses the world over already practice. Once your business decides to prioritize sustainability, there are many concrete steps it can take to become more socially and environmentally responsible. The following practices, for instance, are viable for almost any enterprise and come with significant positive impacts:
Explore Eco-Friendly Packaging Options
Companies that sell and ship products can trace a large portion of their waste generation to packaging and shipping materials. Each product ordered is not only individually packaged but must also be packed into cardboard boxes or mailers for delivery.
Among foodservice merchants, the challenge is equally true, if not more pronounced. After all, food and beverages have to be packaged properly in order to keep them in the best condition possible while being delivered to customers. In most cases, this means using food-grade packaging materials that are made of plastic and are designed to prevent spillage or temperature changes while the order is in transit. All of these packaging can add up to a sizable amount of waste fairly quickly, even for small businesses.
A recent survey has found that up to 64% of customers are more likely to buy from retailers that offer sustainable packaging, especially if they’re able to do so at no additional cost. Another key takeaway, however, is that many customers are in fact willing to shoulder the cost of more environmentally friendly packaging. One survey found that as many as 43% of consumers would pay more to go green. Hence, it’s ultimately worthwhile for any business to invest in sustainable packaging solutions in line with greater customer demand.
Grab has begun to launch more concerted campaigns for environmentally friendly packaging in a number of countries. Grab Malaysia, for instance, offers special incentives to merchants in their Eco-Friendly Merchant category. Food merchants who qualify for this category can enjoy special deals and partnerships with eco-friendly suppliers, enabling them to provide their customers with sustainable packaging and containers.
Make an Active Effort to Cut Waste Generation
Companies can cut down on the amount of waste they produce by finding ways to reduce, reuse, or recycle everyday items. Reducing usage of single-use items, for instance, should be a major priority for businesses in any industry. Offices, for instance, can stock brewed or instant coffee in lieu of coffee pods, while retail establishments can make a conscious effort to reduce plastic and paper bag consumption by asking each customer if they really need them. Among foodservice businesses, employees can be encouraged to forgo using disposable plates, cups, and cutlery for meals in favor of reusable alternatives. These establishments can also offer rewards and incentives to customers that bring reusable containers for takeout orders.
Reusing items whenever possible is likewise a viable way to cut down on the amount of waste a company produces. Encouraging office employees to print on both sides of the page has the potential to save significant amounts of printer paper. Boxes, paper shopping bags, glass jars, and other containers that remain structurally intact can also be repurposed around the business to reduce waste.
Finally, recycling is the next best option when reducing or reusing disposable items is not possible. Companies should take advantage of public recycling services if these are available at their location.
For its own part, Grab has also taken steps to encourage both its customers and merchant-partners to forgo single-use plastic cutlery when possible. For some time now, GrabFood Philippines has featured a “no-cutlery” tick box for all orders made on the platform. This feature was launched as part of a larger, more long-term plan to promote more sustainable and environmentally responsible business solutions within the Grab ecosystem.
Partner Up with Other Green Businesses
Sustainable businesses can also work together to support each other’s operations and reduce their overall environmental impact. From packaging and labels to shipping services, computer software, and even electronics, environmentally conscious vendors can now be found in almost every major industry. These organizations give business owners a wealth of more sustainable options for sourcing their various business needs.
Within the foodservice industry, best practices for such partnerships are springing up in some of the most innovative locations around the world. GrabFood Singapore, for example, maintains partnerships with packaging companies Muuuse and barePack to provide customers with reusable packaging options for food deliveries. Customers based in the city-state can now opt for reusable containers when ordering from more than 80 participating restaurants. Best of all, GrabFood merchant-partners can offer this option at no additional cost.
In Metro Manila, businesses in the the food and hospitality industries are also beginning to experience the benefits of working and partnering with green businesses, particularly in the area of solid waste management. Composting services and plastic waste collection services are two of the most sought-after sustainable services by foodservice establishments, particularly because of the large amounts of food and packaging waste that they can generate in their day-to-day operations.
Aim to Be More Energy-Efficient
Making energy-efficient upgrades to company workspaces will not only reduce a business’ carbon footprint but will also shrink its energy bill significantly. There are many simple but effective ways to cut down on energy consumption in the workplace, such as:
Providing Staff with laptops instead of desktop computers
Switching to LED lights
Installing sensor-equipped office lights
Installing sensor-equipped office lights
Outfitting workplaces with energy-saving appliances
Encouraging employees to take advantage of natural light during the day
Pave the Way to a More Sustainable Future with Grab Superapp
Given the success of Grab’s sustainability efforts in neighboring countries over the past few years, consumers and merchant-partners in the Philippines can look forward to similar initiatives coming to the country in the near future. Business owners who are passionate about environmental sustainability and top-quality service can enjoy numerous benefits from joining and participating in the Grab ecosystem. Apply to be a Grab merchant-partner today for access to a wealth of exclusive business solutions, tools, and learning resources.