Concept Note Series E-077. June 2015.
This is a special feature of GDRC's Sustainable Business programme. It looks at four sustainable business concepts that enable businesses to 'go green'. It covers (1) Green Productivity, (2) Green Consumerism, (3) Green Procurement, and (4) Green Labelling.
Businesses are increasingly looking at making their operations more environmentally sustainable - driven by pressures that are:
- internal (cutting costs, preventive or remedial measures etc.), and
- external (an aware clientele, discerning consumers public policies/laws etc.).
A number of concepts are currently in vouge to help businesses become more environmentally sustainable. They are directed at both the supply and demand ends of the product lifecycle, and often span the entire continuum.
Green Productivity (GP) is a strategy for simultaneously enhancing productivity and environmental performance for overall socio-economic development that leads to sustained improvement in the quality of human life.
It is the combined application of appropriate productivity and environmental management tools, techniques and technologies that reduce the environmental impact of an organization's activities, products and services while enhancing profitability and competitive advantage.
Green consumerism creates a balance between the expectations of consumer behaviour and businesses' profit motives - within the orbit of environmental protection. It is increasingly calls upon to look at the entire life cycle of a consumer's purchases - because a consumer does not just buys 'a' product, but also everything that went into its production, and everything that will happen in the future as a result of that product.
We need to realize that all products have an environmental impact, however small. The concept of green consumers also focusses on businesses, and their survivability as they respond quickly to demands of consumers for products and services that are also environmentally friendly.
A business' green procurement policy (also called a Green Purchasing Policy) should strive to purchase products and services that have less negative impact on the environment.
Environmental considerations forms part of the evaluation and selection criteria, which could cover, depending on goods and services to be purchased, their manufacture, transport, packaging and disposal.
Eco-labelling schemes help consumers make decisions about the products they buy and whether they are environmentally friendly. There are several existing eco-label schemes around the world including the German Green Spot, the Nordic Swan and the US Green Seal.
Most current eco-label programs are cradle to graveE that is, they involve some form of analysis based on the environmental consequences of their manufacture, use and disposal.