Is the cost-of-living crisis threatening business sustainability ambitions?

We explore how going green isn’t another undue expense. When treated properly, your waste can be a valuable resource that can make a difference to your bottom line.

in brief

  • Economic uncertainty is having an impact, and businesses are having to think long-term to make considered investment.
  • Now isn’t the time to ignore the issue, but to instead understand how sustainability can build in economic benefit to your business practices.
  • Especially because consumers need reassurance that the sustainability claims businesses have been making won’t be left by the wayside as the going gets tougher.
  • Going green isn’t another undue expense – when treated properly, your waste can be a valuable resource that can make a difference to your bottom line.

With the impact of the of increased interest rates, inflation, fuel costs, businesses are having to plan carefully for the tough winter ahead.

The gut reaction in at a time of uncertainty is of course to cut spending in non-essential areas. But how do businesses decide what is essential? And how can they maintain momentum on sustainability goals whilst also supporting their bottom line?

Industry conversations are highlighting how important it is to look beyond the short-term when thinking about business goals. There is concern across sectors such as retail and food and drink that businesses will lose momentum on sustainability, with research in Food Navigator pointing to how value for money is fast becoming consumers’ number one priority.

To stay on track to achieve growth and hit sustainability targets, now is not time for indiscriminate cutting back, but for considered investment in the business outputs that will really have an impact.

Sustainable investment may just hold the key to offering that value to consumers. As Business Green explored, businesses that adopt a circular economy approach to production – one that prioritises the reusing and recycling of materials – will “help us do more with those material flows”, such as unlocking more efficient production streams and economic benefits from waste produced.

As our MD Ed Pigg discussed in Manufacturing Digital, rebates can be a great tool for making a return on your waste. In fact, Axil’s partnership with Whirlpool saw the kitchen appliance manufacturer receive a £400k increase in rebates from its waste streams over 2020-2021, a significant economic return from a sustainable investment.

Pictured left, Ed Pigg, Managing Director at Axil Integrated Services.

Of course, the impact of this goes beyond business too. In our recent report ‘Exploring the Environmental and Economic Opportunity of ESG’, we found that just 24% of businesses say they actually have a clear path to achieving their sustainability ambitions.

On top of that, two in five (38%) employees said they would look for a new role if they thought their organisation was not doing enough on ESG issues. It’s clear that now is not the time to dial back on sustainability investments – not just because your bottom line will suffer in the long term, but because you’ll damage crucial relationships with your employees too.

So, although it may be tempting in a period of such strain, it’s essential not to put your head in the sand.

Because customers are also prioritising sustainable production more than ever. We’ve seen a growing trend in discussions, with a recent study from recipe box service Gousto in edie highlighting that almost eight in ten (78%) people are concerned about the impact of inflation environmentally given the potential for businesses to backtrack on their ESG promises.

As we highlighted in our blog, considered waste management with techniques such as waste segregation can help you identify valuable materials with rebate value, cutting down on your overheads by reducing the costly mixing of waste streams.

We know that waste management is far from an undue expense – your waste is a valuable resource that can unlock real economic benefit to help you weather the storm.

iN the news

  • Sustainability trend takes back seat as cost of living crisis bites Food Navigator
  • Sustainable supply chains are even more vital in the cost of living crisisThe Grocer
  • Cost crisis: Are businesses backtracking on sustainability, just as they need to step up?edie
  • Why losing focus on sustainability risks deepening the UK’s cost of living crisis Business Green
  • The Importance of Waste Segregation Axil Integrated Services
  • From rubbish to revenue: how manufacturers can turn their waste into a valuable resourceManufacturing Digital
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