Is it Worth Going Green?
According to the recent goodpurpose 2012study by Edelmen, the world’s largest PR firm, 73% of consumers would switch brands if a different brand of similar quality supported a good cause.
The reality is that the ‘green issue’ isn’t going away; governments are still setting environmental targets, energy prices are still volatile and there is a resulting compelling business case for reducing costs. Over the last few years then, the green movement has gathered pace and increasingly savvy consumers are expecting actions to back up words.
With large multi-national firms keen to keep their clean, green images intact, increasingly the supply chain is under increasing scrutiny to ensure they’re taking green matters seriously. Consequently, even the smallest of businesses are now being asked about their environmental management, in a similar way to how health and safety management has become mandatory.
Whilst being accepted onto an approved suppliers list may be essential for some, forcing an organisation to become green isn’t really in keeping with the spirit of things! The good news is that there are plenty of good reasons to become a green business.
Using an Environmental Management System
Green targets should be built into an organisation’s overall targets. The framework to achieve this can be created with an Environmental Management System (EMS).
Developing an EMS is a proven, sustainable method of improving business performance and minimising environmental impact, as well as a means to ensure you are meeting relevant environmental regulations. In summary, it helps you to reduce waste, improve resource efficiency and avoid unnecessary re-work.
A study on SMEs by Defra showed that developing an Environmental Management System has been linked to growth. Despite the majority adopting an EMS initially because of commercial opportunities, they also found they made significant cost savings.
Unsubstantiated claims about environmental credentials have caused many consumers to become sceptical about so-called green businesses, resulting in the use of the term ‘greenwash’, when businesses aren’t substantiating their green claims with evidence.
The most common way of formalising an Environmental Management System, and gaining recognition for implementing it, is gaining third-party certification to the ISO 14001 standard. Based on using an EMS, it is internationally recognised and applicable to any sized organisation. The 2011 Sunday Times Green List showed that 87% of the best green organisations chose to adopt ISO 14001 to meet their environmental goals. As a consequence, it is often ISO 14001 which is stipulated within the supply chain.
Promoting your green stance
Whilst no business should go green purely to raise their profile, if you’ve achieved something, you should shout about it! If being green has become part of your ethos, then it should be central to your marketing communications too. With the statistics showing it can influence buying decisions, communicating your progress is a great way of keeping in touch with clients. You are demonstrating added value, and in harsh financial times, it is added justification for them to keep using you as their preferred supplier.
In order to avoid being accused of ‘greenwashing’, remember to keep things factual. Although 76% of consumers in the Edelmen study agreed that it’s acceptable for brands to support good causes and make money at the same time, some will always be naturally sceptical about grand claims.