Time To Act: A Proposal For Sustainable Businesses

Phil Keoghan, Chief Executive Officer at Ricoh UK, discusses the importance of sustainability for business operations.

Sustainability is one of the biggest areas of focus for business operations, and now is the pivotal moment for companies to address their own green innovations and responsibility to ecological neutrality. According to our global CEO Jake Yamashita, “Any company that doesn’t contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be ignored by the market and will go out of business. Companies in the future will be evaluated not just by their financial performance, but also their contribution to addressing these social challenges”. As such, businesses can no longer sit on the sidelines, they must act. 

Taking the first step

Businesses across the globe are being prompted to take immediate response to the critical climate situation, particularly following the recent COP26 summit. Now is the time for businesses to take control of corporate responsibility for their impact on society. It is imperative that companies both develop and enact innovative measures and ecological-oriented strategies to reduce CO2 emissions, limit the excess use of finite natural resources, and eliminate the consumption of non-recyclable materials. Businesses should leverage energy-saving, renewable energy, and decarbonisation activities. Therefore, a winning strategy could include the increased use of renewable energy, the development of extensive energy-saving activities, and the improvement of production processes. At the same time, highly efficient technology could help to reduce a business’ negative environmental impact and enhance long-lasting plans and policies. 

Taking action

So, how can organisations aim for better environmental policies? The deployment of technological development can act as a great asset to boost and realise a zero-carbon society. In this regard, we are doing our part at Ricoh by sustaining the global environmental goals for 2030 and 2050 in alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris agreement. 

As part of these objectives, we are committed to reducing 63% of all direct greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing sites, offices, and vehicles by 2030 and 100% by 2050. By focusing on energy management, prevention of climate change, and resource conservation, we also enabled a circular economy system and developed a Sustainability Management Service to support customers to operate with an environmentally responsible approach. Currently, we are working on a variety of technological innovations, such as office equipment that combine high energy-saving performance with ease of use, while offering low CO2 life cycle emissions, and operations that involve renewable energies, such as solar energy and energy from lighting fixtures.

Moreover, throughout the production circle from the manufacture to the client and its final disposal, companies should aim at a circular economy based on recycling as many materials as possible. In this regard, we, at Ricoh, have reduced the production of packaging materials in virgin plastic derived from fossil resources and are improving the use of recycled plastics for imaging products. This promotes the effective use of resources through recycling with less environmental impacts and high economic efficiency. In addition, to prevent contamination by chemical substances used during manufacturing processes, we take measures to prohibit harmful chemical substances at the pre-use planning stage. Currently, we are working to minimise the risk of soil contamination while implementing environmental risk assessments for chemical substances. 

In our opinion, however, these efforts and vision should not be limited to a single department, but rather, they should be shared by every part of a company, first and foremost by production sites. Manufacturing facilities should implement comprehensive energy-saving activities and replace the energy used in operation with renewable energy to make our businesses operations carbon-free further. Therefore, a real culture of sustainability should be created to enable a chain reaction that sensitises the entire production process and does not stop at the customer.

In conclusion, there is a huge need to align corporate objectives and sustainability to obtain outcomes that not only benefit the economic productivity of companies but also produce quantifiable results for the society of today and tomorrow. Companies should achieve energy efficiency, resource conservation and human wellbeing to meet new business sustainability targets while protecting the planet and reducing our own environmental footprint.  Companies have the responsibility toward the environment and should take group-wide measures for the reduction of impacts for the restoration of the earth’s regenerative ability.

Time is running out for businesses, don’t get caught unprepared.

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