What is ESG – and why should you care?

   Chris Williams


ESG – Environment, Social and Governance – is a set of principles that businesses are encouraged, and sometimes required, to adopt. They are important because they demonstrate that an organisation takes its responsibilities seriously across a number of areas.

There has always been pressure on organisations to behave and perform ‘decently’. From the days of the Industrial Revolution where issues like child labour and worker safety became campaigning issues, what we now know as ESG has grown from an expectation that businesses should be acting with the best interests of their people, communities and environment at heart.

Formally, ESG was introduced in 2004, with the United Nations report Who Cares Wins. It encouraged all business leaders to adopt a set of principles that were already becoming mainstream in public consciousness. ESG covers everything from treating your staff equally to managing your waste properly and, increasingly, it is a key measure for customers, investors and regulators.

Organisations are now expected to have clear ESG policies and commitments – and to keep to them. Of course, our special area of interest is the environment, and so we are interested to see what environmental and climate commitments organisations are making – and how they plan to meet them.

Building your environmental policies

Stakeholders are becoming ever-more demanding. They expect organisations to take their environmental responsibilities seriously, and to take decisions that consider environmental impacts. And this is not just about commitments on paper – as the climate crisis builds and resources and supplies become harder to access, those organisations who have built a strategic plan will be in a stronger position to succeed.

What do you need to think about?

There are a number of environmental factors that will influence the way you approach your environmental commitments. These include:

  • Droughts – your access to water may be affected
  • Flooding – your buildings, facilities, people and supplies could be threatened
  • Supply chain – disruption to your supply chain could have a knock-on effect on your business
  • Climate instability – if you rely on sales or supplies from certain parts of the world, economic instability caused by climate change will affect your planning
  • Pandemics – global diseases, such as COVID, can damage your organisation in many ways
  • Higher temperatures – are your facilities, people and processes adaptable to working in the heat?
  • Waste and recycling – how do you manage the waste generated by your business? How could you improve it?

So, your ESG policies aren’t just about planting a wildflower garden to attract bees and butterflies – although that’s a great thing to do. It’s more about understanding the influence that the environment has on your business – and vice versa. Think about:

  • How could you improve your supply chain and sourcing to avoid using unnecessary raw materials?
  • How can you reduce your transportation impact, including people travelling to work?
  • What can you change in your facilities to make better use of renewable energy?
  • How can you conserve water?
  • Can you change your packaging to make it more environmentally friendly?
  • Do you need to educate your staff, suppliers and customers?
  • Do your procurement and supplier processes cover environmental commitments?

ESG for the waste and recycling industry

If you’re a specialist waste and recycling business, you will need to meet significant – and growing – legislative demands as a matter of course. Your long-term success will depend on your commitment to doing this well, measuring and reporting it transparently and going the extra mile to really make a difference.

For those businesses that manage a significant production, manufacturing or waste management operation, we’d recommend investigating Waste & Recycling One – our industry-leading software. It helps you to gain complete visibility over all your processes, procedures and data. It helps you to manage your operation more efficiently, and meet your growing reporting requirements. And it will give your ESG activities a boost too.

To find out more, contact our team today or visit our showcase below.

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