In the near future, companies that don’t prioritise sustainability will struggle to compete with their rivals.
But what exactly is a sustainability strategy, and what are its advantages and disadvantages? To succeed in today’s competitive business environment, companies need a well-thought-out strategy that aligns with their goals. There are various marketing strategies to choose from, such as experiential, direct, influencer, content, social media, or guerrilla marketing. Whichever strategy a company selects, it should serve as a roadmap to achieving its objectives.
With climate change, biodiversity loss, increasing pollution, and the rapid growth of fast fashion, a new corporate strategy has emerged: sustainability strategy.
So, what does this guide for companies entail? A sustainability strategy consists of tools and procedures aimed at implementing sustainable practices. It involves pursuing goals at the local, regional, and international levels, guided by policies.
Sustainable development can be pursued in different ways, and companies can choose from three main strategies: efficiency, consistency, and sufficiency. Experts believe that a combination of these strategies is crucial.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these sustainability strategies:
- Sufficiency – Knowing when “enough” is enough
Sufficiency aims to reduce resource consumption compared to current levels. It involves using less energy, fewer resources, and reevaluating our needs. Sufficiency does not require complete abandonment of products or services, but rather a shift towards a more high-quality and conscious consumption. It emphasises the responsible use of renewable and non-renewable resources, considering the well-being of future generations. This strategy encourages conscious choices, such as reducing meat consumption, purchasing from local farmers, and being mindful of daily habits.
- Consistency – Embracing circular economy
Consistency focuses on transitioning from existing technologies and substances to more sustainable alternatives. It involves considering the entire lifecycle of products, promoting reuse and recycling, and reducing waste. This strategy aims to reconcile technology with the environment and shift away from the linear production model. Consistency requires significant changes in production processes, but it offers long-term environmental benefits. Examples include the use of renewable energy, returnable bottles, and the reduction of environmentally harmful substances.
- Efficiency – Maximizing output while minimizing input
Efficiency focuses on achieving maximum output with minimal resource use. It involves adopting eco-friendly practices, optimizing processes, and implementing technical innovations to reduce the environmental footprint. However, efficiency strategies should be mindful of the rebound effect, where increased efficiency leads to increased consumption, offsetting some of the benefits. Despite this challenge, efficiency remains a valuable strategy for companies looking to optimise their resource usage.
Advantages and disadvantages
Each sustainability strategy has its advantages and disadvantages:
- Efficiency: Maximises output while minimizing resource use, aligning with traditional profit-maximization goals. It can be easily implemented and offers various benefits such as energy efficiency, material/resource efficiency, water efficiency, and transportation efficiency.
- Consistency: Promotes the circular economy and minimises waste. It contributes to significant positive changes, including renewable energy adoption, environmentally friendly technologies, and sustainable agricultural practices.
- Sufficiency: Encourages responsible consumption and high-quality lifestyles. It offers benefits like reduced over-consumption, increased product durability, and a shift toward conscious consumer choices.
- Efficiency: This can lead to increased consumption and is not always aligned with long-term sustainability goals.
- Consistency: Requires significant changes and investments in technology, production, and distribution. Implementing consistency may be time-consuming and costly.
- Sufficiency: Faces resistance and challenges in changing consumption patterns and mindsets. It requires a cultural shift and may involve a gradual implementation process.
To achieve sustainable development, companies should combine these strategies and consider their unique advantages and disadvantages.
Acceptance of sustainability strategies varies among companies and consumers. Efficiency and consistency strategies are generally more popular, while sufficiency faces more resistance. However, when used together, these strategies can achieve both environmental and economic sustainability goals.