For the last couple of hundred years, businesses have used and disposed of the Earth’s resources and commodities to make a profit at the expense of the environment. As resources become increasingly scarce, businesses are starting to realise their responsibility to help preserve resources in the future. The best model that businesses can adopt is a circular one, where the resources that are used end up going through a process that leads to ‘zero waste’, once it approaches the end of its life. This could be achieved through the use of technology, recycling processes and partnerships. Here are a few ways businesses can migrate towards a more ‘circular’ economic model.
Seek renewable energy suppliers
The majority of the world’s energy grids supply their power by burning fossil fuels, such as oil and gas. Renewable energy suppliers are increasing in number, however it only makes up as much as 20% in most developed nations. Additionally, the energy from these suppliers tends to cost slightly more than energy produced from coal or oil.
Although it is cheaper economically, there’s a non-financial cost in terms of the impact on people’s quality of life, health and life expectancy. The Chinese government have committed to renewable energy projects and China’s citizens in Beijing are starting to welcome the reduction in the cities smog level, although much more needs to be done.
Invest in energy-efficient lighting
LED lightbulbs are the most energy efficient lighting solution on the planet right now. Compared to incandescent light bulbs, LED light bulb technology requires less energy to illuminate. Additionally, the energy that is typically lost as heat in incandescent light bulbs is utilised in LED lights, contributing to its efficient energy consumption.
For businesses, on average 15% of their energy consumption overheads is due to lighting. This impacts the environment if the business is linked to an electrical grid that isn’t powered by renewable energy sources. By investing in energy-efficient lighting, your business can minimize its direct contribution to carbon emissions.
Partner with socially responsible suppliers
In a world where every business owner will do anything to make a profit, it is refreshing to see businesses that have a larger vision. For example, Hong Kong based printer cartridge supplier Cartridges Direct help businesses with ‘closing the loop’ when it comes to the disposal of used ink cartridges – so they don’t end up in landfill.
Printer cartridges are a huge environmental problem, with over 80 million used ink cartridges ending up in landfill every year. A percentage of the cartridges that are recycled aren’t even recycled ethically, which contributes to greater problems. This is evidenced by the Chinese city of Guiyu, where ink cartridges and e-waste run rampant, contributing to contaminated agriculture and water supplies in the town.
Invest in diamond batteries
Although they are just a concept at this stage, it is a promising development for sustainability. Forbes reported that the diamonds, which are actually made from radioactive waste, can be turned into a battery that emits low power for an extremely long life (which is estimated to be about 5000 years). It will be a while before these batteries get launched onto the market, however they would offer a sustainable solution in the future.
Encourage sustainable habits
Education will have a huge impact on sustainability in the future. It’s important that the people that form a part of your organisation understand the habits that they need to adopt, in order to implement sustainability in the organisation and, possibly, even outside of it. Implement a process that will allow your organisation to educate and reward people for their sustainable efforts. These could be programs such as:
- Cycling to work
- Commuting using carpooling or public transport
- Eco-friendly office designs
The circular economic model is the way forward for businesses. The financial cost might not yield the best benefit in terms of financial profit, however, it will have a greater impact on people’s quality of life and wellbeing. Review the operations of your organisation to see where you can make improvements today!