Australian businesses could inject 57 per cent more budget, time and people towards environmental initiatives during the post-pandemic recovery.
The report found that 85 per cent of businesses are already taking measures to reduce their environmental impact. Waste management seems to be the leading, and most manageable, concern. More than half of executives say (57 per cent) their organisations are reducing waste management processes including reusing, refurbishing, recycling and disposal.
Focus on reducing emissions
On reducing carbon footprints, 48 per cent are reducing their energy consumption, 24 per cent are increasing local sourcing and 23 per cent are reducing travel and product transportation.
Large organisations (more than 501 employees) seem to be taking charge in reducing emissions, with two thirds (66 per cent) focusing on reducing their energy consumption, compared with 41 per cent of small businesses (less than 50 employees). More than a quarter (29 per cent) are reducing their travel and transportation emissions, compared with 21 per cent of small businesses.
Saeid Nikdel, environmental management systems expert at SAI Global, believes the COVID-19 crisis has caused a fundamental shift, presenting an opportunity for businesses to rebuild more sustainably.
“The global pandemic has presented many challenges to businesses, but the silver lining of the crisis is that it allows us to rethink our future and build resilience to other challenges such as climate change. The pandemic also hastened the transition to a hybrid working model, which has resulted in employees avoiding unnecessary face-to-face meetings as well as domestic and global travel, in turn, reducing fossil fuel depletion and the associated impacts on climate change.
Less common are taking measures to improve efficiency of resource-heavy processes, which only 17 per cent of businesses are acting on, and improving end-of-life treatment of products, chosen by 14 per cent.
Saeid says not enough businesses are taking a holistic approach to environmental sustainability to also look at the lifecycle of their products, better uses of raw materials and natural resources, and better utilisation of space.
“The end-of-life treatment of products, how they are stored and how raw materials are acquired and extracted all have an impact on a company’s environmental impact and should be considered when developing an environmental strategy,” he said
Saeid said businesses should look to adopting an environmental management system, such as the ISO 14001 standard to improve an organisation’s ability to deliver environmentally responsible and sustainable business practices.