In 2018, transparency is key for growth, and the world’s largest and well-known corporation are fully aware that this is true. Having an ethical corporate image, a strong stance on what’s right, and positive policies that engage staff, customers and communities are all important, as are being truthful and accountable for the business’ activities, both good and bad.
In this article we are going to look at five large and well-known corporations’ environmental commitments, targets & responsibilities.
Outdoor clothing company Patagonia have been outspoken in their attempts to be good to the environment, operate sustainably and do their part, so much so that the New Yorker called their strategy ‘anti-growth’! However, being transparent about their approach to reduce the negative and social impacts of their products and operations has won them many admirers.
Each product has something called ‘Footprint Chronicles’, which shows the supply chain, including carbon emissions from production stages like textile mills and sewing factories. The same goes for the whole company, they have made it their policy not only to take a proactive approach to meeting environmental targets, but to holding themselves accountable for supply chain emissions by display all of the data. If the supply chain has a weakness, people are invited to help offer solutions.
In the past, they released adverts suggesting that people shouldn’t buy more than they need, including their products, and they even offer a repair system too. They’ve also made contributions to the political world, encouraging support for eco-friendly leaders. Patagonia know that when companies are open with their customers, and they can embed their mission into their products, they can build trust, a local customer base, and help the planet!
Since IKEA’s inception, their founder Ingvar Kamprad has put sustainability and environmental protection at the forefront of their operations. For a company that inherently uses an abundance of textiles, wood, metal and plastics, as well as other materials, they have made considerable efforts to do so in a respectful way. Here are just a few of their environmental commitments:
50% of their wood is sourced from sustainable forests
100% of the cotton used in their products comes from farms that meet the ‘Better Cotton’ standards, which require farms to reduce water, energy, chemical fertiliser and pesticide usage
More than 700,000 solar panels are used globally to power their stores (and they plan to sell this technology to customers in the future)
In 2012, IKEA set the goal of becoming 100% powered by renewables by 2020
In 2016, with big progress being made on this goal, they raised the bar, aiming to be a net exporter of renewable energy by 2020
When we say ‘Large and well-known corporation’s environmental commitments, targets and responsibilities’, it’s hard to avoid the concept of corporate identity. Whilst Patagonia and IKEA have made a point of always trying to be eco-friendly, Unilever put together a ‘Sustainable Living Plan’ that made it an autonomous obligation.
Their targets include sustainable sourcing, reducing supply chain emissions, reducing energy and water use in production, looking after the suppliers and communities along their supply chain and more. The Sustainable Living Plan came into effect in 2010, and their CEO Paul Polman set the huge target of doubling the size of Unilever whilst halving the emissions.
Some results have been recorded already, such as a 75% landfill diversion rate for non-hazardous waste, and a tripling of sustainable agriculture suppliers. The UN gave Unilever the ‘Champion of the Earth’ award in 2015 for their progress.
The key to Nike’s sustainability turnaround, from a somewhat inconsiderate and pollutive force, into Morgan Stanley’s ‘most sustainable clothing and footwear brand’, has been largely due to their commitment to transparency. They now share their supply chain and production practices and data, allowing customers to hold them accountable, when in the past they were more secretive.
It’s also easier for Nike designers to make greener decisions thanks to a tool they built that compares the environmental footprint of different fabrics. Nike also started using recycled materials in some of their products, as well as reducing packaging through more intelligent design, investing in better energy efficiency in their factories, and reducing their chemical output. Nike also has a partnership with NASA to spark green innovations in raw materials chemistry.
British multinational retailer M&S was founded more than 130 years ago, and has evolved over that long period of time to become a sustainability leader. They drew up their ‘Plan A’ programme to improve their corporate identity and make a positive difference. This programme states that they will:
These are just a few of the one hundred social and environmental commitments that you can find detailed here.