Building business resilience through sustainable practices

For businesses looking to build their resilience by reducing the cost of their utilities and establishing a respected brand in the eyes of consumers, sustainable practices have become a top priority.

This has followed a shift in consumer preferences. Customers are now demanding and expecting reputable products from companies that actively work to limit their environmental footprint, with 67 per cent of Australian consumers reporting that they are influenced by green or sustainability issues when making retail purchases.

We were recently joined at Brisbane Business Hub by Andrew Chamberlin, CCIQ ecoBiz Sustainability Coach, who took attendees through the best practices for business sustainability, and explained how these changes can increase businesses overall resilience in the modern environment.

For those who couldn’t make it, here are Andrew’s top takeaways.   

Why we need to increase business resilience

Resilience is the capacity of a system, enterprise or person to maintain its core purpose and integrity. 

“Without resilience, a business will undoubtedly fail, considering the increasingly changing business circumstances for many industries in Queensland,” Andrew says. 

As a first step, he suggests businesses ask themselves:

  • What has changed for your business?
  • Have you adapted?
  • How have you changed and what strategies have you put in place?
  • What are your plans for further improvements over the next 12 months?

“Resilience is the reason you started your business in the first place,” Andrew says. “It reflects what you are passionate about in the face of dramatically changing circumstances and your ability to keep doing what you’re doing as things change around you. It includes having a strong vision, composure, business health, tenacity and the ability to collaborate.

“Sustainability is a key tool in helping businesses to gain and maintain this resilience.”

What is changing?

Andrew Chamberlin with the welcome to brisbane business hub sign

The world is changing on a big picture scale, impacting what pressures are put on and which opportunities are available to your business.

According to CSIRO’s digital megatrend analysis, the trends highlighted below will likely impact Australia over the coming 20 years. These trends are worth thinking about in the context of your business, and many are skewed towards a more sustainable focus. 

  • More from less: Creating business efficiency with less access to and more expensive resources. Businesses need to learn how to generate the same amount of business with less resources. 
  • Going, going, gone: The world is losing biodiversity, which is impacting businesses and business systems that rely heavily on good and healthy biodiversity. 
  • Silk highway: Our strongest business and financial connections have been trending towards Asian countries over the last few years, and are expected to continue to do so into the future. 
  • Forever young: Life expectancy is increasing, meaning we have longer working lives. People are living longer, are active longer and are spending money longer into their lives.
  • Virtually here: There has been large growth in digital technologies, with fast-paced changes around online collaboration, shopping and trading.
  • Great expectations: People will rely more heavily on getting their value, happiness and satisfaction from services rather than goods. There is a trend towards a more service-based economy as awareness around sustainability grows stronger. 

“Each trend can be catered for by a careful strategy, all requiring a form of sustainable commitment,” Andrew says. “Businesses with a plan will find themselves ahead of the curve with a higher level of resilience.”

Using environmental sustainability as a tool

There are ever-increasing risks and concerns around extreme weather events and climate action failure. Andrew says environmental risks are at the front of mind for lots of consumers and businesses. 

“When it comes to building business resilience through sustainability, you need to plan ahead and follow a recommended course of action,” he says. “It is not enough to be reactive or just get by. You need to look at all the future scenarios and think about how they might transform your business if you’re proactive now.

“You need to consider the risks and the impacts they will have on your business. How can you prepare and mitigate these? On the flip side, look to opportunities you can capatilise on to transform your business in the long-term.”

Businesses can implement:

Carbon commitments

“There are now huge global markets for carbon offset,” Andrew says. “There is a lot of money around for businesses who are able to reduce their emissions through mitigation and abatement, create carbon certificates and sell those to other businesses to help them achieve carbon neutral or net zero.”

Renewable energy

Andrew says businesses should be utilising renewable energy through business practices. 

“Queensland is the biggest state for rooftop solar,” he says, “and the Queensland Government has spent huge amounts of money in developing renewable energy zones, where large-scale renewables will be facilitated to help us move towards Queensland’s target of zero net emissions by 2050.”

Circular economy

A circular economy is a system in which existing materials and products are shared, leased, reused, repaired, refurbished and recycled for as long as possible, rather than one in which resources are continually mined, made into products, and then become waste. 

It may not be possible to create a fully circular economy within your industry, but looking to implement circular economy practices within your business can create value.

“Ninety-five per cent of resources that are extracted each year are back in landfill in 12 months,
Andrew says. “You want to extract the most value from your products by extending the lifecycle of your goods and services. For most businesses, you can start with some simple recycling of plastics and reducing waste.”

Data and technology

Technology is constantly evolving, and giving us access to more tools and information to help with our sustainable journeys.

“Look for software that can help you to manage energy in real-time,” Andrew says. “There is technology available that can monitor things like cooling systems and lighting to help you get the most efficiency out of them.”

Next steps

Brisbane small businesses also have access to the Queensland Climate Adaptation Strategies. This includes the Climate Sector Adaptation Plans that can help sectors cope with and adapt to climate change. These plans are available here.

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