Business priority drives the green agenda

API Insurance Services praised by in-business south australia magazine (Feb./Mar. 2011)

Most business owners and managers would agree the need to minimise environmental impact from business operations is ‘the right thing to do’ and may lead to intangible benefits such as greater brand value and employee engagement.

But according to Tony Innes, principal of the Sustainable Directions Consultancy, day-to-day financial pressures and the need to maintain market share often push a ‘green agenda’ down the list of strategic priorities.

This is changing as developments compel business leaders to think seriously about ‘green’ imperatives.

SME organisations are being asked for evidence of their environmental strategy when tendering for supply contracts. Larger companies, with Environmental Management Systems in place, are reviewing supply chains and strongly encouraging goods and services suppliers to follow suit.

Many banks, legal firms and large manufacturers have a sustainability clause in their supply agreements. State and Federal government tender documents require potential suppliers or contractors to have in place – or at least in process -a basic environmental strategy.

Secondly, embracing a green agenda can save operating cost. This was discovered as an unexpected benefit by early adopters of sustainability in their quest to reduce their carbon footprint.

A classic example is global manufacturing company DuPont which introduced an Environmental Management

System in the 1990s. The ‘green’ process saved DuPont about $3b in global operating costs.

‘What started as an effort to address our carbon footprint has turned out to be financially a very good thing”’ said Chief Sustainability Officer, Linda Fisher.

Sustainability reviews of business operations now generate cost savings as a primary aim, with lessened carbon footprint flowing from the process. Management tools such as Six Sigma and Lean are being recast as strategies to reduce waste and save money.

The API Insurance Services office in Victoria Square, Adelaide recently reviewed its paper-intensive procedures and managed to reduce storage requirements by about 50%.

“We were delighted with the results of our review as we not only reduced our storage costs, we also reduced our impact on the environment. It has encouraged us to look for reductions in other areas,” says MD, Rob Skipper.

The third factor driving the ‘green agenda’ for business owners is the increase in the number of environmentally conscious consumers. Formerly a small, passionate band of ‘greenies’, nowadays a growing sector of the general public considers environmental impacts when taking major purchasing decisions. This trend has been ignited by the increased exposure of the environment on the political front and also the introduction of successful green products such as the Toyota Prius into mainstream markets.

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