Sustainability in business: leaders gather to discuss Australia’s commitment to change

- June 28, 2016 2 MIN READ

Sustainability in business not only encompasses your environmental impact, but looks to ensure that your social and financial demands are responsible as well. Investing in sustainable practices can help your business become more resilient and productive, cut down costs and give you a distinct competitive advantage.

More than 200 of Australia’s sustainability industry leaders have gathered in Sydney to discuss the environmental and social impact of brands. The local and international professionals have gathered at the Sustainable Brands Sydney Conference to voice how Australia can be part of a sustainable world, creating business models that deliver both purpose and profit.

Dr Sally Uren, CEO of Forum for the Future, flew in from the UK to emphasis the key opportunities for Australian brands, such as system innovation, the circular economy, pre-competitive collaboration and closing the circle between government, business and the consumer/community.

“The role of business in delivering solutions to society’s current set of significant and complex sustainability challenges has never before attracted so much attention. It’s critical to transform the key systems we rely on and to involve everyone in the value chain, from the producers and manufacturers right through to the end-user, all working together towards a common aim,” said Uren.

Leading the way in eco-capitalism and upcycling, Tom Szaky, Founder and Chief Executive of TerraCycle, shared insights into how his brand has grown by engaging consumers in recycling post-consumer products and packaging.

“Recycling something that isn’t recyclable, like many other key sustainability functions, requires an investment of money, so what we really have to unlock is that we can learn to create value from sustainability investments,” he said.

“At TerraCycle we repurpose hard-to-recycle post-consumer waste, ranging from used cosmetics to coffee capsules and cigarette butts. The waste is collected through free, brand-funded recycling programs, as well as various consumer and government-funded models. The collected waste is recycled, reused or upcycled into a variety of sustainable consumer and industrial products.”

Discussing how brands are attracting millennials as another view on brand sustainability, Ben Peacock, Founder and Partner at Republic of Everyone together with Mark Chapman, Director of Tax Communications at H&R Block, explained, “Millennials think differently. Brands need to consider ‘purpose’ as a driver, for people for whom financial rewards are no long top of the motivation tree.”

“There’s oodles of research to show that millennials – and indeed Gen Y – will go out of their way to work for a company who shows a genuine commitment to CSR, environment and sustainability. And that current workers are more engaged and stay longer in a company that shows real purpose and commitment to reducing its impact on the world,” said Peacock.

Andrew Petersen, CEO of Sustainable Business Australia congratulated brands who worked to align their business strategies with the Sustainable Development Goals.

“Australian business is becoming very aware of the opportunities that are opened up by the newly adopted United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and many are planning strategic partnerships to pursue and implement the Goals. I’d like to congratulate my members, Abergeldie, KPMG and NAB, who were listed in the Top Ten of the 8th Annual Review of the State of CSR in Australia and New Zealand, released today.”

“Businesses are powerful actors to help resolve the big challenges of sustainability, and the collaboration of businesses to deliver transformational solutions cannot be underestimated.”

“Our members, as well as others in the business community, are taking steps to create a more sustainable future,” concluded Petersen.

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