During our research, we encountered some encouraging trends:
Confronting climate change. Our Eco-Leaders are not shying away from the most urgent environmental issue of our age; to the contrary, some are putting the issue front and center with bold commitments and aggressive goals for increasing the energy efficiency of products and reducing operational emissions. Some are pouring research money into developing sustainable products.
Embracing renewable energy. GreenBiz cites a “growing number of corporate commitments around renewable energy purchases” in 2015. We’ve noted this trend among our Eco-Leaders, as well. Many are promoting renewable energy directly through their products and services; most are also turning to renewable energy to power their facilities.
Increasing transparency. More and more companies are responding to customer demand for transparency. But this trend is about more than third-party certifications. As companies delve into the cradle-to-grave impacts of their products, they are prompted to reexamine their choices, from raw materials and supplier ethics to the number of components in products and the type of materials used to package them. Some are revamping their R&D process to consider these impacts from inception—a much more effective sustainability strategy.
Movement toward circular economies. The linear extractive model—from extraction to production to use to landfill—is unsustainable by definition. By contrast, a circular economy produces no waste. Products are designed for their next incarnation, and resources are restored, not plundered. Part of this trend is a movement away from good and toward service, seen in companies such as Schneider Electric and Philips. The Internet of Things is facilitating this transition.