Governments must ensure it pays to be sustainable

18th May 2016 Posted by

In a bid to become increasingly sustainable, businesses cannot be expected to ignore commercial realities, without support from governments, according to SUEZ.

Gev Eduljee, the External Affairs Director for SUEZ, said that there are limits to the extent that even the biggest companies can turn the wider economy around by influencing their supply chains. Often, doing so failed to make commercial sense without the help of governments around the world to establish a level playing field.

His comments were made following the publication of a report compiled by the All-Party Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group (APSRG), exploring resource-efficiency in business supply chains, which was launched at an event at Portcullis House in February.

The SUEZ sponsored report, entitled Link to Link: Driving resource efficiency across supply chains, was compiled over the past six months. It features a collection of essays and case studies, all of which contribute to a series of recommendations, made by the report, to the government and the private sector.

Link to Link examines and explores the potential to improve resource-efficiency and decrease the amount of waste produced across business supply chains of all sizes, including SMEs. It contains contributions from business leaders, consultants and academics, which highlight best practice examples, areas for potential improvement and ways to make supply chains more sustainable, resource efficient and circular.

Among its 12 recommendations, the report called on the UK government to implement a call to action on resource-efficiency in the UK. In order to establish the barriers that are preventing companies from becoming more resource-efficient.

The report’s recommendations also asked the government to engage with the EU’s ongoing eco-design policy-making, provide funding support to remanufacturing, and develop sustainability guidelines for businesses.

The report was released at an event on 09 February 2016, which was co-chaired by Barry Sheerman MP and Peter Aldous MP. They were joined by speakers including Prof Helen Walker, Professor of Operation & Supply Management, Cardiff Business School, Mark Varney, Director of Food, FareShare, Sophie Thomas, Director of Circular Economy, The RSA and Ray Parmenter, Regulatory Affairs Director at Veolia.

SUEZ External Affairs Director, Dr Gev Eduljee, said:

“There are limits to the extent that individual companies can turn an entire economy around by influencing their supply chains. The central message both from the Link to Link report and at the launch event, was that governments very much have a role to play in stimulating and rewarding resource-efficiency in order to build a circular economy.

While some front-running businesses recognise the benefits of resource-efficiency and are tackling the challenge head-on, we are still a long way from full alignment between the commercial interests of business and the wider environmental concerns of society.

The UK Global Compact Survey of CEOs found that the majority felt they had taken sustainability as far as they viably could within their organisations. Greater support and market intervention by governments (not just the UK government) was necessary to incentivise circularity.

I do not believe that it is reasonable to expect businesses to fully set aside their commercial interests in order to achieve public policy aspirations, so we must create a system and environment where it also pays to do the right thing.”

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