Corporate Giants and their take on a Sustainable Business
Sustainability is the future. With the state of the environment and changing climate, it is a goal every start-up aims for, and a challenge every multinational corporation has to overcome. As we move towards this sustainable revolution, it is interesting to see how big companies who started out back when there was little to no awareness about the environmental footprint of a business, are taking on this trend. These companies have hundreds of industrial settlements all around the globe and countless supply chains attached to each. Let’s take a look at 4 of the biggest corporations in different sectors and how they’re adapting to greener techniques (and possibly compensating for their not-so-sustainable past):
Unilever is a British-dutch multinational goods company that currently operates in over 190 countries. Based in London, England, this 90-year-old company has made billions in consumable goods, household items, and personal care products. You’ve probably seen their small logo on the back of every consumable product made by a renowned company found in your favourite convenience store. Being one of the oldest multinational corporations, it isn’t surprising it holds over 400 brands under its belt, Unilever had a been criticized time and time again for using unethical sources and illegal practices to source its raw materials. However, looking at those controversies, to compensate for their unsustainable growth in the past, Unilever has made sustainability a part of their brand identity now. More than just making green investments, with the help of their sustainable living plan, they cater to not only the resources that get imported but also to the communities that supply them. They employ agricultural labour that uses sustainable practices, 3/4th of their industrial waste does not end up in landfills, the CEO of the company was thus given the champion of the earth award in 2015. They’ve even taken up a tremendous goal of reducing their carbon footprint by half in 2030.
IKEA is a Swedish giant that has taken over the world, it is the world’s largest furniture brand operating in over 52 countries. In 2019, they sold over $44 billion dollars worth of furniture. They’re known and loved by customers for their DIY shelves, kitchen utensils, and other home appliances. Like every other billion-dollar giant, IKEA also had a rocky beginning in terms of sustainable growth, but their response and action to create a more environmentally friendly brand was quick and impressive. They took action on the issues addressed, beginning in the 1990s, and had developed a strategic environmental plan for the entire firm by the 2000s. Today, experts admire and commend the brand for its sustainable resourcing. 70% of the wood and almost 100% of the cotton they use is sustainably farmed, with tangibly less use of energy, water, and pesticides. In 2012, they took on the goal of making IKEA run on completely renewable energy by 2020. Most of their stores are run by solar-powers collected by their solar panels, which they plan to start selling to the customers soon. They’ve even pledged that 91% of their store waste will either be recycled or be used for energy conservation.
Started by two college students in 1998, who probably did not have any idea about the massive giant this company would soon come to be. Google, the most visited website in the world, has since expanded to be more than just a search engine, incorporating into several sub-companies, products, and separate social media services. Youtube and Blogger are examples of google’s sub-companies that also fall under the most visited websites. In 2017, Google was declared the most valuable brand, the same year it pledged to power all it’s data centres and offices by renewable energy. Despite being the biggest player in the silicon valley, google uses 50% less energy than any other data centre. They’ve also taken an initiative to take 91% of their waste products away from landfills. Their recent project is moving towards protecting marine life by showing a transparent image of commercial fishing across the globe in hopes of providing sustainable tools to help these industries. You can track live fishing activities with the help of their maps, they also contribute to scientific research and help with fishing management. They also invested $2 billion dollars in wind and solar energy, the biggest investment ever made in renewable energy by a corporate entity.
Starting out as a small company that made light-bulb sockets in Osaka, Japan; Panasonic has come a long way today, playing in the fields with Sony, Hitachi, and Toshiba. They’ve even expanded from electronic products to services like urban development and renovation.
Panasonic products are known for having a longer life and being extremely energy efficient.
More than just making everyday products environmentally friendly, Panasonic also makes huge strides in renewable energy and efficiency. And by huge, we mean ‘shifting their headquarters to a different location so that the employees don’t need to drive and increase their carbon footprint’ huge. The company is also in the works of making a ‘sustainable smart town’ in Fujisawa City, Japan. It is a project to showcase what a smart city in 100 years might look like.