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Building a Circular Economy is a Corporate Social Responsibility

Building a circular economy is a corporate social responsibility

"Reduce recycling and reuse." This phrase is not uncommon in global conversations surrounding sustainable development efforts and initiatives.

However, these three Rs are often discussed on a personal level, and companies are excluded from the conversation. Enterprises should not be exempt from the principle of reduction, reuse and recycling. In fact, they should take the lead in implementing these sustainable strategies.

Circular economy is good business. When companies implement sustainable practices, they are not only helping the environment, but also helping the entire company. Let us delve into how companies strive to realize these benefits and commit themselves to fulfilling corporate social responsibilities.

Reduce, reuse and recycle for enterprises

Small and medium enterprises (SMBs) can make some of the greatest environmental contributions when they choose to adopt the motto of "reduce, reuse, recycle".

This is because they are inherently larger in scale and have a wider range of influence, and their impact is far greater than that of individuals or families. Companies can also control their supply chains and can make small choices that have a profound impact on the environment.

There is a reason for the sequence of the words "reduce, reuse, recycle". What they mean is that companies wishing to use this phrase in their strategy should:

1) Reduce commercial waste

The key to becoming an environmentally conscious company is to first reduce the amount of waste you generate.

Usually, this requires a waste audit to find out if there are any inefficiencies in your business process that will generate unnecessary waste. This can also show whether you need to adjust any purchase or production quantities to limit excess quantities.

This may mean digitizing other paper-based processes. Or, stop buying disposable materials, such as cups, plates, and certain packaging, in order to choose reusable items. On a larger scale, reducing waste may mean redesigning processes to use fewer materials, or buying certain products in bulk.

2) How do companies "reuse"

The overall goal of reuse is to delay the useful life or final disposal of the product. "Reuse" in the business world can mean many things.

For example, you can promise to buy second-hand furniture or donate old items instead of disposing of them. You can also implement policies that allow employees to reuse certain materials, such as cardboard boxes, bags, office supplies, etc., multiple times before disposal.

3) The importance of SMB recycling

Even if measures are taken to reduce and reuse materials, companies will inevitably generate waste during their operations.

The type of waste depends on the business-for example, restaurants will see a lot of food waste. Manufacturers may use cardboard, wood and metal in the waste stream. It is important to determine what materials and waste types your business is producing, and then determine the correct disposal route.

This does not mean that all waste can be thrown into the recycling bin. Many products produced by companies must be separated through waste streams and recycled accordingly.

Some examples of waste streams that require special disposal methods include:

Commercial recycling: including cardboard, metal, glass, paper, plastic, etc.; organic recycling: including food waste, wood, oil and grease, etc.; construction and demolition (C&D) waste: including wood, concrete, gypsum board, cardboard, metal, and plastic E-waste (e-waste): including computers, televisions, telephones, printers, etc.; controlled waste: including bleach, cleaning chemicals, flammables, corrosives, etc.; general waste: including batteries, pesticides, Mercury equipment, cosmetics, auto parts, etc.

With software solution companies such as Rubicon®, you can quickly organize and determine the best way to handle various materials. Rubicon prioritizes cost and sustainability, which means that all of your recyclable materials will be recycled at the lowest possible cost-even through resources such as scrap metal to make money for you.

Establishing a comprehensive corporate recycling program ensures that valuable, otherwise recyclable materials do not end up in the landfill (and your bottom line is protected.)

Influential business sustainability practices

Corporate sustainable development is more than just "reduce, reuse, and recycle". The following are some key business sustainability practices that you can adopt in the process of achieving corporate social sustainability:

1) Adopt a "triple bottom line" mentality

Historically, the company has focused on a single bottom line: profit. The "triple bottom line" principle opposes the view that profit should be the only driving force behind business behavior.

On the contrary, this concept introduces a total of three Ps that constitute the bottom line of the company:

The concept of triple bottom line is closely related to corporate social responsibility. It introduces social and environmental impacts into corporate missions. By aligning social and environmental issues with the importance of profit, your company can reformulate its mission and production processes to reflect this.

2) Pay attention to ESG principles

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) principles measure the sustainability and quality of a company through these three lenses.

Investors consider ESG factors more than ever when making investment decisions. This process is called "responsible investment" and is becoming more and more popular among investors.

According to a 2019 McKinsey report, global sustainable investment has now exceeded US$30 trillion. To learn more about Rubicon’s work in implementing important ESG principles related to the entire waste and recycling category, download Rubicon’s first ESG report.

3) Adhere to the sustainable development goals of the United Nations

In 2015, the United Nations (UN) set 17 global goals aimed at achieving a sustainable future, which are expected to be completed by 2030. Each of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) belongs to one or more of the following focus areas:

Partnership for Prosperity and Peace on the Human PlanetCompanies can play a huge role in achieving sustainable development goals. According to the United Nations Global Compact, "Global challenges-from climate, water and food crises, to poverty, conflict and inequality-all require solutions that the private sector can provide, representing a large and growing market for business innovation."

For companies wishing to improve their corporate social responsibility, the "earth" part of the list of sustainable development goals is a good starting point. Refer to the United Nations Global Compact website to learn more about how companies can play a role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and to read Rubicon’s commitment to sustainable economic growth. We regard the Sustainable Development Goals as a good blueprint for achieving our goals.

The benefits of corporate social responsibility to enterprises

When companies choose to implement a sustainable plan, they will see many benefits both inside and outside the company:

1) Impact on the environment

Companies that demonstrate corporate social responsibility play a huge role in environmental progress and response to climate change.

Any scale of waste reduction, reuse and recycling has a positive impact on the environment. When companies participate in these initiatives, their impact exceeds the impact of individual actions due to their scale.

By optimizing waste management, companies are protecting the planet’s natural resources and saving other limited energy sources.

2) Corporate brand image

Sustainability is a growing factor driving global sourcing decisions. Today, about two-thirds of North American consumers choose environmentally friendly brands when making purchasing decisions and are willing to pay more for sustainable products.

Adhering to sustainable business practices can gain valuable brand loyalty and overall positive reputation in the eyes of consumers.

3) Reduce costs and identify new sources of income

In addition to the wide-ranging environmental benefits, corporate sustainability also benefits the bottom line.

By reducing the amount of garbage collected, reduction, reuse and recycling can very quickly reduce expenditures on waste services and porters. This is because, ideally, there is less waste in the beginning (and there is more recycling, which means more space in the garbage).

A proper recycling process can also open up new sources of income for the company. For example, companies can make money by selling valuable recyclable items such as scrap metal to collectors. For companies that often generate such valuable waste, the money can increase rapidly. At a higher level, companies that practice corporate social responsibility and ESG best practices can gain higher value and increase the number of their investors and customers.

Rubicon's mission to eliminate waste

In order to fully comply with the principle of "reduce, reuse, recycle" and develop corporate social responsibility, your company must re-examine its existing systems.

This means evaluating and identifying waste areas. Determine where and when this waste occurs, and work hard to prevent any "leaks." By redesigning and reimagining certain business processes, you can strive to achieve the best sustainability and efficiency and position your business for long-term sustainability.

To learn more about Rubicon’s work to transform the entire waste and recycling category, download our first Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) report.

If you have any questions, or if you are interested in learning more about Rubicon's sustainable products, please contact Sustai at Rubicon

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