Looming resource constraints go way beyond carbon, warns the Carbon Trust

Carbon Trust report

Sustainability in business must expand to meet future demands on resources. These constraints will go way beyond energy management, but include water, waste and land-use; for example there could be a 40 per cent gap between available water supplies and water needs by 2030, and some critical materials could be in short supply as soon as 2016. Organisations that adapt their business models by assessing their exposure to such resource constraints can identify how to manage these risks and exploit commercial opportunities. In turn this will improve efficiency, strengthen long-term resilience, and drive business returns. So says the Carbon Trust’s new report, Opportunities in an resource constrained world, which has profiled four of its customers: Whitbread, BT, Stagecoach, and Bord Bia and sets out some of the steps they have taken on sustainability.

The report also identifies the key drivers for action in the four case studies, which although not exhaustive – start to provide insight into what motivates companies. They are:

Competitive differentiation: By setting themselves and their products apart on the basis of environmental credentials, companies can increase their competitiveness and strengthen their brand;

Leadership: Some companies seek to characterise themselves as sustainability leaders as part of a strategy to enhance their reputation through action on sustainability and/or have strong leaders who want to prioritise sustainability;

Cost, efficiency, and value creation: Being more resource efficient is most compelling for business when it can deliver savings or create new growth opportunities, such as creating new products that meet evolving consumer demands.

Most businesses remain to be convinced of the business value in acting on sustainability, as only 5 per cent of companies surveyed by The Carbon Trust saw their response to sustainability as that of a global pioneer. By contrast 40 per cent of companies saw their response to sustainability as reactive.

Commented Tom Delay, chief executive of The Carbon Trust: “The organisations that have contributed towards our report are well on the way towards building sustainability into their very DNA; we believe that all organisations have potential for success in their own response to sustainability issues.”

“In this and our future work we hope to work together to help you make sense of and react to this complex and dynamic challenge.”

Click here to download Opportunities in an resource constrained world.