The pandemic has shone a light on our collective duty to respect and support our planet for the generations to come. As businesses navigate 2021 and beyond, the focus on climate change and the collective drive to create a more sustainable future will be amplified. Many businesses are now planning for their recovery and positioning their business for future growth – in a sustainable way.
Sustainability has often been considered a priority without a timeline, but that’s changing. Customers, partners and regulators are beginning to put a greater emphasis on sustainable business practices, and many companies may find themselves shedding market share if their sustainability efforts are seen as sub-standard. In fact, with the introduction of the Carbon Tax, the federal government ensures that sustainability is built into the bottom line of businesses.
Canadian businesses have become more aware of the growing importance of sustainable business practices. Last year, our Navigator Resilience report showed that two-in-five Canadian businesses felt that the events of the first half of 2020 illustrated that sustainability is more important than ever before. In fact, nearly five-in-six said they’ll need to reassess/review how sustainability plays into their operations in the wake of COVID-19 in order to rebuild on firmer foundations.
“It’s clear that sustainability will be a theme that continues to grow in importance for businesses nationwide as we recover from the pandemic,” said Dana Krechowicz, Senior Sustainable Finance Manager, HSBC Bank Canada. “But as with many complex initiatives, taking the first step can often be difficult.”
HSBC will soon be launching its “How to Get Started on Sustainability” guide, a helpful resource for businesses of any size looking to become more sustainable. In the meantime, here are three ways you can start your business on a journey to becoming more sustainable.
Make paper a thing of the past, and enter an era of environmentally-friendly efficiency
You may think that having a recycling program in place at your office is ensuring you’re limiting the amount of waste your business is creating, but as much as 50% of office waste going to landfills is still paper. In fact, some estimates suggest that Canada uses as much as six million tonnes of paper annually, but only 25% of it is properly recycledi.
Finding digital solutions for many of your day-to-day office activities can help you quickly become a greener organization.
Businesses need to see their business activity, but it need not be on paper. Digital solutions like HSBCnet offer real time access to banking information without paper and ink. Moreover, you can create custom reports to suit your business and access them online whenever you need to, reducing both administration and paper waste.
In addition to paper-based reporting, Payments Canada data shows paper-based payments are on a steady declineii. In fact cash, paper and cheque transaction volume dropped more than 20% between 2018 and 2019iii alone. Electronic payments, including electronic funds transfer, wire payments and mobile cheque deposits are replacing and intercepting paper from clogging the network, and becoming the de facto payment method for most businesses and consumers
Survey your supply chain
Very few businesses operate in a bubble, meaning for the majority, their environmental footprint extends far beyond the walls of their own offices and facilities.
“Research has shown that the majority of the overall impact a business has on the environment comes from the practices and processes of those that live within their supply chain,” adds Krechowicz. “Many companies are taking a closer look at the sustainability efforts of their suppliers, and using their influence to effect positive changes in their supply chain.”
For instance, one of the ways the apparel industry is trying to engrain sustainability into the supply chain is with Serai, an HSBC-backed B2B platform that allows apparel buyers and manufacturers to trace the origin of raw materials (like cotton) that go into their productsiv
. Others are exploring green trade financing
as a means to improve sustainability in their supply chain.
Use 2021 as an opportunity to map your supply chain, and create a supplier code of conduct that clearly outlines sustainability expectations for those that contribute to your products and services. If necessary, look for new suppliers that can offer you the same quality product and service, but with a greater emphasis on sustainable business practices than current providers.
Find eco-friendly financing
A greater emphasis on sustainability is a long-term investment in the way your company does business, but there’s no way of getting around the fact that larger-scale sustainable projects cost money to get started. The capital expenditures that are necessary to launching new sustainable practices and projects may have traditionally been seen as deterrents, but the business case for these investments is improving. Many leading financial institutions like HSBC now offer solutions to make financing for these programs more accessible and attractive.
“If your business is planning to invest in areas like renewable energy, electric vehicles, waste reduction, or energy efficiency projects, green financing options can support turning sustainability plans into sustainable business,” says Krechowicz.
HSBC is committed to supporting our customers around the world to make the transition toward net zero by 2050. We’ve also dedicated between $750 billion and $1trillion to support our customers and partners to meet this goal.
Contact us to find out how to turn your green ambitions into a reality.