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Reduce your environmental footprint, boost your bottom line

Wendi Latko, Environment, Health, Safety & Sustainability VP at Xerox, outlines why sustainability needs to be part of your business DNA.

Combatting climate change – at a consumer and political level – has skyrocketed to the top of the UK news agenda over the last twelve months. Now it has captured the attention of the general public, there have been monumental shifts across Government policy and everyday behaviours, from ultra-low emission zones to reusable coffee cups.

But as the world races to reduce its environmental footprint, the onus doesn’t just lie with the consumer. Instead, the focus is turning towards corporate organisations, who are increasingly being called on to lead the charge. In fact, a recent report revealed that 83% of consumers expect businesses to make sustainable choices – as a result, sustainability is becoming business-critical.

So, against this backdrop of consumer expectation and corporate responsibility, how can companies advance their eco-friendly efforts without compromising the bottom line? Whether you’re a start-up or a multinational corp, here are some simple steps to help you navigate the path towards building an environmentally sustainable business:

Measurement means management

Firstly, it’s imperative that you have a clear plan in place to outline how you will measure your environmental footprint, allowing you to prioritise your efforts, invest accordingly, and create a roadmap to secure buy-in from key stakeholders. But where should you begin?

Start with an in-depth assessment of your current operating environment and a detailed assessment of your current workflow. It’s important to have a clear picture of the total current cost of ownership (TCO) and costs. Following this, you’ll need to evaluate and access. This includes evaluating current operating costs and performance (and the potential savings opportunities) and accessing current operations in terms of overall power and carbon consumption, including paper, trees and natural resources.

From there, it’s time to project into the future and model potential environmentally-preferable business solutions and ‘what-if ’ scenarios. This will give you a better idea of future TCO savings stemming from the modeled scenario. Once you have these in place, you can then assess the benefits of your proposed changes against your physical site map and plot them against internal policies. You should ensure that you supplement any proposals with analytics that enable fact-based discussions and designs across the business.

Look at the value chain

Once you have finalised your measurement plan, you should start considering your overall value chain and how your decisions will impact your broader supply chain, and eventually the customer.

It’s often useful to work upstream with your suppliers as their processes and services contribute to your overall environmental footprint, and work downstream to your customers and other suppliers. For example, Xerox’s Green World Alliance relies on customers to return spent cartridges and then Xerox connects with certified recyclers to process the returns.

Engage your employees and look for quick wins

Once you have drawn up your new initiatives, it’s vital that you engage your employees in order to implement your ideas. As the psychological engine that drives corporate performance, employee engagement can make or break your sustainability strategies.

It’s important that everyone in the business, from the c-suite to the newest intern, feels incentivised to execute change. At Xerox, we help our customers to achieve their sustainability goals through our Print Awareness Tool offering, which promotes sustainable habits at a personal level, displaying print performances and offering tips.

Businesses should also look to build momentum by identifying quick wins, which not only require minimal input from employees, but produce quick results. It might be as simple as turning your default setting to ‘duplex’, reducing paper consumption by 50%, minimising the costs for supplies and recycling, and freeing up the device.

By incorporating the above practices into your company’s core values and operations, you’ll be taking the right steps towards building a sustainable future for your bottom line. Because in 2019, sustainability should be more than just a corporate buzzword. It needs to be a part of your business DNA.

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