Sustainability offers businesses potential £100bn saving

4th July 2013

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Embracing resource efficiency and circular-economy business models could save UK companies more than £100 billion each year, says Business in the Community (BITC)

The UK’s carbon footprint could be cut by 13% and businesses could cut productivity costs by £61 billion annually if there was wide-scale adoption of initiatives to cut consumption of energy, water and materials, according to the BITC’s latest report, Fortune favours the brave.

Adopting new business models that support new consumption patterns – such as renting goods as a service rather than selling them – or sharing value with local communities could help firms to save £29 billion each year, says the report. And designing products for a circular economy, by improving resource recovery or extending product lifecycles, offers industry an opportunity to cut costs by a further £15 billion–£18 billion.

BITC concludes that companies have to go beyond reporting-focused approaches to sustainability and incorporate the principles of resource efficiency and social responsibility into their corporate strategy.

“Those companies that innovate, demonstrate bold leadership and move beyond business-as-usual approaches to sustainability are most likely to be the winners,” it states.

Olly Benzecry, managing director at consultancy Accenture, which contributed to the report, said: “There is an opportunity to make sustainable business practices a driver of growth and competitiveness. That requires companies to innovate and to embrace the disruption that new sustainable business models can create.”

According to Accenture’s analysis, the resource efficiency savings available to firms, which are estimated to be £25 billion, could be achieved through no- or low-cost measures, such as minimising waste. A further £36 billion could be saved if payback periods are extended to more than 12 months.

BITC has also published an online “sustainable business toolkit”. It provides guidance on how to identify new sustainable, commercial opportunities.

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