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Sustainability Management Strategies – Top Management Commitment

Materiality Sustainability Management

No sustainability management program will be successful unless top management is committed to it. 

It is possible to appeal to top management using either a financial or strategic (risk-based) argument. Top management will generally respond better to a well-reasoned financial argument but there is no conflict – it is entirely possible to be more sustainable and to improve profits at the same time. 

Sustainability is not simply about environmental issues; it is also about social and economic issues and about the issues which link these main topics. 

Improving sustainability is often seen as a cost but a well-directed and managed sustainability management program can easily deliver substantial cost savings through resource use reductions, e.g., a well-managed energy management program can give a 30% reduction in energy use and costs for many sites. This is equally true for other sustainability actions such as improved water management and improved waste management. 

Companies need to stop thinking about sustainability as a cost and start thinking about sustainability as an opportunity to review operations and reduce costs. 

It is impossible to ignore the strategic aspect of sustainability. Whatever the cost debits or credits, failing to improve sustainability can lead to society and legislators withdrawing a company’s right to operate. 

Action: 

  • At this stage, the objective is simply to get top management commitment. It is not to get approval for the activities that need to be taken. The activities will be determined at a later stage. 
  • Getting commitment should be relatively easy, most top management teams are already aware of the importance of sustainability issues. In many cases, they have already started the process. 
  • Top management need to be aware that a commitment to sustainable operations is not a short-term action, it is a long-term program to protect the company’s operations. 

Dr. Robin Kent is the author of ‘Sustainability Management in Plastics Processing’, published by the British Plastics Federation and Managing Director of Tangram Technology Ltd. (www.tangram.co.uk), consulting engineers for energy and sustainability management in plastics processing.

By Robin Kent | November 30, 2023

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