Tick the boxes and discover the sustainability dividend

The danger with sustainability is that it becomes a box-ticking exercise, and that businesses may actually lose sight of the rationale behind it in the rush for the all-important sustainable business credentials.

Perhaps we shouldn't be too concerned by this because with familiarity comes understanding and to a certain extent, it has already happened. We now have terms like 'greenwash' where companies might spend a lot of money touting their 'green credentials', and rather less making systemic changes to their businesses to reduce waste and consumption; but any well managed business now looks at sustainability as a practical framework for reducing costs and increasing profitability.

Standard for sustainable events

Sustainable standards were created in response to mounting environmental awareness within the event industry, and with the backing and support of the associations, they were incorporated into the international standard for sustainable events, ISO20121.

What you may discover, working towards ISO20121 compliance or generally improving your sustainability as a business, is just how much waste one SME can generate in a year, and how much money could be saved with simple investments like a waste compactor. Or you may find out that fitting new taps and appliances in washrooms can dramatically cut water consumption. At JMT we have found all this and more in our progress towards ISO20121 over the last few years.

What might start out as a box ticking exercise, becomes a journey of understanding. The aim must be to create an industry of zero waste businesses, but that will require much more than a unilateral effort on the part of individual companies, and will depend on the infrastructure and support delivered in partnership with governments and international bodies. However, every step in the right direction is real progress.

Legislation for sustainable business

Of course, legislation and regulation are also powerful factors in changing behaviour to make businesses more sustainable. Restrictions like the London Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) and similar initiatives in Europe are forcing us to improve our vehicle fleets to Euro 5 standard, but the improvements in fuel consumption and the concomitant effects on the bottom line are just as compelling, if not more so. With our One Network across Europe, JMT is able to dramatically reduce the number of 'furniture miles' travelled by its stock by delivering customer orders for furniture and floorcoverings from its nearest warehouse in Europe. Also, our products are logistically beneficial as they are stackable and lightweight, but also we try to use materials that are reparable, recyclable or renewable.

You might be asking yourselves, who benefits from all this? Well it's a win-win-win situation! Primarily, businesses are moving in the right direction, event businesses especially, to create cleaner, environmentally sustainable industries and that's a win for the public, the world and the environment. Customers win through greater efficiencies and lowered overall costs, and businesses win by cutting costs for fuel, power, water and waste disposal.