Sustainable Operations

You may already know your ecological footprint or your SPI. If not, you can calculate your ecological footprint.

What are the basic levers you have at your disposal to manage sustainably?

Hold your product development to making each new product more sustainable than the previous one. Your product management can provide the specifications for this.

What aspects should you pay particular attention to?

As a rule, you and your customers do not pay directly for damage caused in our world by the purchase, operation and marketing of non-sustainable items. That includes, for example, damage resulting from the fact that wastewater from the manufacture of T-shirts is not purified in a country of production, that people die because of scarce water resources, that raw materials are mined for the semiconductors of tablets and notebooks, that tropical rainforests in South America are cleared for the cultivation of cocoa, coffee or palm oil, that human rights are violated and fair wages are not paid, that environmental disasters are not effectively prevented, that our soils are polluted with nitrates, that our climate is affected by the CO2 emissions of our mobility and by our industrial processes, that poisons and antibiotics from factory farming are discharged into our drinking water, and so on.

Look at your value chains holistically and choose countries of origin where sustainable work is done, choose renewable energy sources, materials that are sustainably produced and recyclable, design concepts that make material separation practical, processes that are sustainable, products that are durable and recyclable at the end of their useful life, and leadership that respects human dignity.

At the very least, your CO2 emissions are increasingly being charged to your business. Even if other environmental impacts are not (yet) priced, systematically look for ways to minimize the material and energy resources you use, enforce environmental standards even with your suppliers, and work toward fair and social management of human resources. Also consider how you can work with your customers to make specifications more sustainable. Promote lightweighting and make your products last longer, be easier to repair, and be recyclable. Transform the way you work to circular processes whenever possible. Also put to the test whether your customers’ applications are sustainable and whether you want to support these applications.

Example: A manufacturer of conveyor systems for hard coal mining does good business in Australia, in China and in South America, where hard coal is used as an energy source for power plants. If this machine builder wanted to do business sustainably, management should consider how they can gradually transition their business from this business for a definitely non-sustainable application to sustainable applications.

Sustainability and efficiency do not contradict each other, but are mutually dependent. Take the opportunity to eliminate weak points. Your commitment to sustainability strengthens your competitive position.

Give this mission as a requirement to your marketing, procurement and development teams and systematically expand sustainability.

A self-commitment by communicating is a clear position on sustainability can help you to follow this path in a disciplined way. To this end, a strong statement in corporate governance is a good idea.

Actively advocate holistic sustainable business practices. “Green-washing” by buying CO2 certificates does not help the world.

Customers and employees, as well as investors, will appreciate your company’s sustainable management. Balance the economic with the ecological and the social. The implementation of a balanced scorecard can help you well in this reconciliation.

Growth is not unlimited. Exponential economic growth leaves irreversible marks on our world. The consequences of this long-term damage to our world will be costly. Nature and our health will strike back. We need to make provisions for this. In parallel, there is an urgent need for sustainable management and for responsibility at the latest now. The implementation of an effective environmental management system can help in implementing sustainable management. A balanced scorecard can be used to incorporate targets for sustainable management into corporate practice.


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