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Sustainability is a term used by corporations, environmental groups, and politician to analyze industrial processes, corporate policies, and economic systems. From an environmental perspective, it means the potential longevity of a process in terms of natural resources drawn, and the ability to replenish, as well as the overall impact of the final product following disposal. In essence, a corporate activity that promotes sustainability is the one that underwrites to keep the environs healthy and free from pollution and degradation through reduced consumption of non-renewable resources. From the business perspective, sustainability focuses on acting in respect to the long term outcomes in mind, and managing business such that its overall state or process can be supported indeterminately. As a consequence, economically sustainable corporate development implies developing business systems that will enable the companys business process to last indefinitely. However, this ideology works under assumptions that such systems will produce less impact on the environmental system compared to traditional methods. Nonetheless, it is apparent that sustainability is a difficult term to define or measure since eventual impacts and other variables influence sustainability that remains unknown. Nonetheless, the process can be described as less sustainable than others or proceeding away or towards environmental sustainability.
According to Willums & World Business Council for Sustainable Development, corporate sustainability is defined as an approach that generates long term stockholder values through incorporation of business opportunities and effective management of risks from the social, environmental and economic development. Corporate sustainability executive attains long term stockholder values through gearing their strategies and management practices. These practices are geared towards harnessing the full market potential for sustainability services and products while reducing sustainability risks and costs. In most business forms, sustainability is enhanced through making for a decision that is based on social, environment and economic effects because they understand that every action is detrimental to the business sustainability. Sustainability can be evaluated by conducting the product lifecycle evaluation, where the environmental footprint of the product is evaluated. This evaluation is based on the resources used, the end application of the product and final disposal of the product.
Types of environmental impacts
There are ecological effects that are of special interest to both the government and the non-governmental organization. It includes the loss of biological diversity, depletion of ozone layer and climate change. Loss of diversity threatens food supply, tourism sector, energy and interferes with normal ecological functions. As a result, it reduced productivity of the ecosystem thus affecting environmental sustainability.
High carbon levels have led to depletion of the ozone layer. Governments institution is concerned by increasing level of ozone layer depletion. The government is concerned about increasing levels of chlorofluorocarbons and halogens released into the atmosphere. Furthermore, emission from aerosols, refrigerators and air conditioners contributes significantly to the depletion of ozone layer. The government and environmentalists concern about increasing temperature level. Temperature level has risen steadily in the recent years because of high level of greenhouse gases, such as methane and carbon dioxide being released to the environment. Carbon dioxide is mainly generated from fuel and fluctuations in land use, such as massive deforestation. Accumulation of such gases has led to increase in the temperature level. It threatens sustainability of people living along the ocean beach due to the high rate of ice melting.
Is sustainable business consistent with profitability goals?
The issue of enhancing environmental sustainability while still striving to achieve profitability goals emerges as a controversial topic in the corporate world. Although powerful forces, such as a resource scarcity, population growth and economic austerity, pressure the need for transformative shift, questions remain whether a win-win result between environmental sustainability and profitability goals can be achieved together. However, key barriers prevent companies from integrating sustainability goals in their long term business strategies. A number of companies in the globe strive against difficulties, such as budgeting process and capital and fail to incorporate sustainability initiatives. As a consequence, it makes it difficult to achieve both sustainability and profitability because of uncertainties related with the ability to implement metrics, which account for external environmental costs that enhance sustainability.
It is evident that attaining both profitability and sustainability goals remains a challenge for business firms. Large multi-national business firms spend millions of dollars annually. However, such projects are designed, assembled and operated in a manner that poses enormous implications towards environmental sustainability footprint in the long term. The major obstacle is that business sustainability experts within the corporation are not incorporated in making the capital budget at the onset of the project. Therefore, the companys financial leaders enact corporate decisions with the project and upfront costs. As a consequence, business firm is less probable to put into consideration the projects potential environmental benefits and risks. Inability of the company to coordinate sustainability and financial decisions leads to the project that is cost-effective today, but future of such projects usually remains unable to sustain pressure over time. Nonetheless, lack of appropriate integration between sustainability and financial related decision forms a barrier that impacts business environmental sustainability.
Understand sustainability and sustainable business
It is apparent that there is a major reason that makes business adopt sustainable business practices. It includes the companys perception that it is responsibility and ethical practice of business. In contrast, others perceive the practice as a way of gaining competitive advantage. In the market, a group of consumers is actively seeking sustainable solutions. As a result, business is extensively seeking means to include this group in its target market through social and environmentally superior products compared to the competitors. Nonetheless, business firms overemphasis on the profit and expansion of the worldwide market at the cost of environmental sustainability. However, some companies embrace environmental sustainability for a very practical reason of saving direct costs and taking gain of the monetary enticements offered by governments and utilities. For instance, the government provides subsidized capital costs for new products that are energy-efficient. Furthermore, the government provides grants, tax credits and loans to spur adoption of sustainable business practices. However, it is apparent that most business firms implement sustainable business practices as secondary to profitability goals and objectives (Willums et al., 2011).
Business activities that create negative environmental impact and initiatives that reduce environmental impacts and enhance sustainability
Different business activities have significant impact on the environment. All business operations lead to increase in the amount of carbon emitted in the atmosphere thus causing global warming. The impact of business activities on the environment raises the energy costs and not only threatens sustainability of the society but also affects continuity of business operations. Business product development and production contributes to approximately 18 percent of total carbon emitted to the atmosphere. At the workplace, carbon emission results from the services, sales and administration business operations that contribute to approximately 1 percent. However, impact can be reduced through reduction of overtime work, implementation of workplace energy conservation and use of air conditioning equipment.
Business logistic operations impact negatively on both the company and environmental sustainability in different parts of the world. The transportation methods used often rely on fossil fuel, which leads in the environmental pollutions. In order to reduce impact, business firms can essentially implement improved logistic networks through the establishment of shortened and efficient transport distances, reduce air shipments and expansion of eco-driving transport trucks. It will reduce the amount of carbon footprints environment thus reducing the impact. Other initiatives include reduction of waste production at production centers, recycling and emphasis on the use of refurbished products. As a result, it will reduce the carbon footprint thus enhancing both business and environmental sustainability.