Green trends to help the planet – and your profits

Sustainable strategy

Sustainability is an increasingly important purchase decision driver. Polls suggest up to half of consumers are willing to pay nearly 20% more for sustainable products. This rises to over three quarters of Millennials.

Consumer concern over global warming is growing, thanks to influencers like Sir David Attenborough. Social – and social media – pressure makes it harder for consumers to justify buying unsustainable products. A third of Britons “feel ashamed” if they buy from companies they consider socially irresponsible.

Sustainability can help build brand loyalty. It can also reduce manufacturing costs. Pepsico claims its sustainability programme has saved the company $600 million in the last five years.

Whatever the reason, adopting trends like those below will be good for the planet – and your bottom line.

 

It’s a wrap

Packaging accounts for a quarter of the world’s plastic use. The WWF claims two thirds of plastic waste comes from packaging. Companies are looking to science to provide alternatives. New packaging innovations include mushroom styrofoam, algae-based plastics and a see-through wrap made from hemp. Italian designer Emma Sicher has combined food waste with bacteria and yeast to create disposable packaging.

L’Oreal collaborated with sustainable packaging company Ecologic to create a recycled, compostable, paper-based pump bottle for its shower products. Fairy Liquid’s new Ocean Plastic bottle is made entirely from recycled and ocean plastic. Carlsberg’s created glue that holds its beer cans together, removing the need for plastic rings.

 

Watering down

Water use in the manufacturing process is costly, financially and environmentally. By 2030 the UN believes global demand for water could outstrip supply by 40%. For companies, water conservation can be win-win.

Levis has found ten new ways to ‘wash’ jeans without water, including ozone gas machines, saving 200 million gallons so far. PepsiCo too has identified alternative manufacturing methods, including air pumps and smart filters, to reduce its water footprint. It’s also working with farmers to find more efficient, water-free farming methods: something future advances in AI and IOT will enhance. Water reduction has saved $1.5 million per year at its Arizona plant alone.

 

Waste not

Several brands are finding innovative ways to repurpose food waste. Iceland’s teamed up with a craft brewer to launch beer made from surplus bread. Kellogg’s is partnering with Se7en Brothers on an IPA made from Corn Flakes too big, small or overcooked to sell. Morrison’s has started coating fruit and vegetable packaging with a blend of minerals and clay that extends shelf-life by up to four days.

Companies are targeting clothing waste too: offering apparel on a rental, recycled or pre-owned basis. Tommy Hilfiger is launching 100% recycled jeans. Rent the Runway has introduced a clothes-rental subscription service.

 

Fake views

Tipping your hat to social concerns is no longer enough. Pepsi‘s Kendall Jenner TV ad was superficially rebellious but stood for nothing. The online reaction against it, which caused Pepsi to pull the ad, proved the importance of authenticity here.

In contrast, Nike’s Colin Kaepernick ad was a huge success. They took a stand on something they knew would be unpopular with some, to show commitment to their core audience. The strapline ‘Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything’ should be the mantra of any brand looking for involvement in sustainable issues. For consumers to trust their commitment to politics or ecology, brands need some ‘skin in the game’.

 

Brand activism

Pepsi’s ‘protest’ ad was inauthentic. But the company’s recent support for water safety –  a growing problem in developing countries – is an example of how brands should approach sustainability: active involvement in practical projects.

The epitome of this is Patagonia. It supports over a thousand environmental projects, donating 1% of all its sales to the environment: $90m so far. Activist brands can succeed on a smaller scale too. Energy company Ecotricity has taken an activist stance against fracking in the UK, teaming up with Friends of the Earth and providing a £60 donation to anti-fracking groups for each new customer it gets. Lush partnered recently with naturalist Chris Packham on a campaign to end the “war on wildlife”.

 

Meat free

There’s a growing acceptance of vegetarianism’s environmental benefits. A third of Britons reduced their meat consumption last year: the biggest reason, after health and money, being the environment.

Burger King announced in April it’s partnering with radical vegan manufacturer Impossible Foods to create the meat-free ‘Impossible Whopper’. Vegetarian food manufacturer Beyond Meat made $60 million last year and is set for an IPO.

 

Electric avenues

Global ownership of electric vehicles rose 54% in 2017 alone and is expected to reach 125 million by 2030. EVs could be the way forward for transportation and distribution too.

Ikea Australia has begun converting its delivery fleet, committing to all-electric by 2025. Canadian travel company Harbour is planning to create the world’s first all-electric airline. New technology is reducing the cost of conversion, via special packs that electrify the chassis of already-existing vans and trucks.

 

Flower power

Many offices strive to incorporate an outdoor-feel. But some are going further, using materials that actually support the environment. 3M’s new roofing asphalt uses smog-reducing granules that remove as many pollutants as several trees. Other workplaces are enjoying bee-friendly wildflower roofs.

Some HQs are replacing cut flowers with more natural sources of greenery. Edible Landscaping provides offices with changeable planters of herbs and vegetables which employees are encouraged to use in their lunch.