Innovation in Sustainability

As the importance of sustainability continues to increase, so does the need to incorporate innovation into sustainable practices. Innovation is vital for growth, and organisations that do not adopt innovation are very likely to fall behind in the competitive business world. Sustainable innovation allows companies to not only innovate their products and services but also do their part for the environment – by having unintended environmental impact. In a world where 90% of Gen X consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable products, now is the time to take action and prioritise sustainable innovation.

Alexandra Palt

Executive Vice President & Chief Sustainability Officer of L’Oréal, Vice President of the L’Oréal Foundation

Jeremy Schwartz

Non-Executive Director of Revolution Beauty, Chairman of Sustainability and Inclusion Transformation Practise for Kantar & Former CEO of The Body Shop

Steve Howard

Co-Founder & CHair of WE MEAN BUSINESS & Former Chief Sustainability Officer at IKEA

Göran Carstedt

Former President of IKEA North America & Advisor to The Clinton Climate Change Initiative

Sally Uren

Chief Executive Officer for Forum of the Future, Board Trustee for the Galapgos Conservation Trust & Board Member for Travalyst

Mike Barry

Former Director of Sustainable Business for Marks & Spencer & Former Co-Chair of the Sustainability Steering Group for The Consumer Goods Forum

Maria Agazio

Co-Founder of Equitable Solar Solutions, Business Developer for Iconergy, Named on Forbes 30 Under 30

Sue Garrard

SVP Global Communications at Unilever & Fellow at the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership

Ellen MacArthur

World Record Holder for Single-Handedly Sailing Around the World Non-Stop & Fastest Circumnavigation of the Globe

Paulette Frank

Chief Sustainability Officer for Johnson & Johnson & Former Worldwide Vice President of Environmental Health, Safety and Sustainability for Johnson & Johnson

Sustainable innovation is the practice of making intentional changes to products and services, that in the long term have an impact both socially and environmentally – whilst also having economic benefits for a company. Sustainable innovation can involve developing novel products or changing operational processes to ones that prioritise sustainability – such as reducing waste or emissions. With 38% of executives already acknowledging that sustainability is a top priority and 86% of organisations having a sustainability strategy in place, now is the time to act and prioritise innovation in sustainability today.

What are Examples of Sustainable Innovation?

  • Public electric transport – Public transport has been innovated to have a sustainable and environmental impact, through the use of electric vehicles. Such transport is better for the environment as it reduces the emissions being generated, such as CO2 and NOx.
  • Plastic recycling – The plastic industry has encouraged sustainable innovation through recycling, moving away from their ‘take, make and dispose’ methods to ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’. By innovating their processes to include recycling, they are helping contribute to a circular economy.
  • Bio-fuel – Companies have innovated their processes by turning waste products into biofuels, such as the company Bio-bean which has turned their waste coffee into fuel to help power London double-decker buses.

How Can I Achieve Sustainable Innovation?

Ultimately, to achieve sustainable innovation you must innovate your services and processes whilst having a positive impact on the environment. This can be achieved by:

  • Reducing the use of natural resources in manufacturing and distribution processes
  • Reducing the production of waste
  • Introducing the opportunity to reuse and recycle products
  • Using more efficient and environmentally friendly packaging

Source: Network for Business Sustainability, Forbes, IBM Institute for Business Value & McKinsey