Every organization has a variety of environmental costs that need to be managed. Whether there is direct management, as with construction companies who have to deal with water management and waste management, or indirect management of resources such as fuel costs or the impact of weather upon a distribution system, environmental costs are present in every organization. These costs are increasing recently – in fact some estimate that such costs will double in the next 14 years or so – as a result of various forces. Sometimes called “megaforces”, these forces include energy and fuel availability, climate change, resource scarcity, water shortages, food shortages, environmental problems and so much more. These forces are expected to have a huge impact on various organizations’ growth over the next two decades.
A Changing World In the future the various resources that businesses require to create their products and deliver their services – the things that they rely upon to get their jobs done – will become more scarce and thus more expensive. This will continue to put strain on environmental systems and business infrastructure. This means that in the coming decades organizations will be required to understand the limitations of resources and make changes in their business practices to ensure a continuous ability to be cost effective and to maintain production/sales or hopefully to grow. For example, as fossil fuels become more scarce globally businesses will need to be prepared to respond quickly to fluctuating prices and availability; this unknown of fuel prices and availability needs to be acknowledged and planned for.
One Thing Leads to Another It is important to recognize that nothing in our globally connected world occurs in a vacuum. A draught in India can damage availability of cotton to textile mills around the world. A bad frost in Florida can impact citrus availability across the United States impacting juice makers and more. An oil spill in the middle of the ocean can impact fuel costs for all companies as well as tourist income in various areas. One thing leads to another and all areas are connected in some way.
Using Resources Effectively It has always been economically important for a company to use resources effectively. Certainly unnecessary waste costs money in buying materials that the company does not need and then in disposal of left over materials. But today’s changing environmental and global climate requires companies to keep a closer watch over resources and plan for unexpected scarcity of materials. What this really means is that businesses need to become more sustainable, both for their own survival (and growth) but also for that of the environment as a whole.
Moving Towards Sustainability The point of the matter is simply that we live in changing times, socially, environmentally, culturally and economically. Businesses need to do two things to move forward with more security. First, they need to work on sustainability issues in daily business, on finding ways to reduce waste, use fewer resources, spend less money and be more environmentally conscious. Second, they need to be prepared to deal with emergency issues in resource management.
The future has the chance to be very bright for the environment and businesses. What it requires is an acknowledgement of the resource issues that we face as well as the fact that our modern global connectivity requires us to be concerned about resources not just in our own backyards but around the world. Businesses also need to look for opportunities to better the environment including ways to become zero waste and low carbon, while also balancing the modern lifestyle with the needs of our planet.