UK expects greater focus on sustainability to deliver growth
Following research conducted by HSBC UK, the company reports that UK firms expect to see over the next year a growth in sales as a result of a greater focus on sustainability.
“It’s extremely encouraging to see such a positive set of results following an unprecedented year faced by businesses across the country. The report tells us that firms genuinely want to build back better and have sustainability and the move to a net zero economy right at the top of their priority lists as they look to adapt their operations to the ‘new normal’,” commented Rob King, HSBC UK Head of Sustainable Finance.
The latest HSBC Navigator report - surveying over 10,000 businesses in 39 markets - found that 78% of UK firms (1,000 of the 10,000 surveyed) expected sales to grow in the next year due to an increased focus on sustainability.
“We see consumers having increasing expectations when it comes to sustainability and the companies they engage with and this greater focus on sustainability by businesses will help them to build their reputations and make better connections to their customers. But there is still work to do. The Government announced its Green Industrial Revolution plan last month and our research suggests that firms will need further support and incentives as they strive to reach these lofty goals,” added King.
Other UK finding from the report included:
- 75% of UK businesses now having metrics in place to measure environmental sustainability, up 13% compared to 2019 (62%)
- 28% are measuring energy usage, 21% carbon emissions, and 20% packaging materials and waste
- 73% of british businesses plan to introduce net zero emissions goals into their own operations and supply chains
- 86% of UK businesses believe there are multiple opportunities to improve environmental and ethical sustainability
- 42% believe government incentives will help with becoming more sustainable in the future, while 31% believe workforce engagement or initiatives will help, and 29% green financing
“Our research shows that businesses believe that sustainable practices will have a positive impact not only on their reputation but also their performance and profitability. With the right support and incentives UK businesses can deliver on their targets and achieve their sustainability ambitions, making a difference to their employees, customers and the global society,” concluded King.
Four CPG giants to fund sustainable accelerator programme
Breakthrough ideas can come from anywhere and anyone. That’s the premise behind the coming together of The Coca-Cola Company, Unilever and Colgate-Palmolive in the funding and support of world-leading brewer AB InBev’s 100+ Accelerator program.
These four consumer packaged goods multinationals will leverage both their size and resources to fast-track a shift toward sustainable solutions by mobilising some of the world’s sharpest thinkers to solve some of the world’s most pressing sustainability challenges.
The aim of this collaboration is to “supercharge adoption of sustainable solutions by funding the accelerating fantastic innovations that will change the world by making all of our businesses more sustainable”, says Tony Milkin, chief procurement, sustainability and circular ventures officer at AB InBev.
“Sustainable business is smart business, and we are working to solve huge problems that no one company can handle alone. With our combined global reach, we can accelerate progress towards a more sustainable future.”
What is the 100+ Accelerator program?
Originally launched in 2018, 100+ Accelerator is a global incubator program that aims to solve key supply chain challenges across water stewardship, circular economy, sustainable agriculture and climate action.
It offers size and scale to passionate entrepreneurs to help bring their solutions to market faster, and the program’s first two cohorts have already piloted 36 innovations in 16 countries, with participating startups raising more than US$200m to help them scale globally.
Among the established innovators are those already creating huge impact on sustainability, with projects including the first solar thermal plant in Africa, recycled electric vehicle batteries that store renewable electricity in China, and upcycling saved grains from the brewing process to produce nutritious foods in the US.
- The implementation of green cleaning solutions to reduce water and energy use in brewing operations in Colombia
- Solutions delivering traceability and insurance for smallholder farmers in Africa and South America
- The collection of more than 1,000 tons of glass waste in Brazil
- Piloting returnable packaging in the United States
- Recycled electric vehicle batteries that store renewable electricity in China
- The ability to upcycle saved grains from the brewing process to produce nutritious foods in the United States
- The first solar thermal system to be installed at an AB InBev plant
How will the new program work?
So, how does it work? Applications are invited from entrepreneurs or small businesses (deadline for cohort 3 is May 31 2021) and the partners will choose 20-25 ideas which are then provided with funding.
Project aligned with goals of the CPG multinationals
The participation by all three consumer packaged goods giants is in line with each of their own sustainability goals, with each passionate about transforming global supply chains towards a greener future, and knowledgeable that “we can achieve our purpose faster and more effectively with equally committed partners”, says Patricia Verduin, CTO of Colgate.
Since launching its World Without Waste sustainable packaging platform, Coca-Cola has actively engaged the startup community for inspiration and innovation and is an inaugural investor in Circulate Capital, a fund launched in 2019 focused on ventures, infrastructure and innovations preventing the flow of plastic into oceans.
The program’s social inequality component is also aligned with Unilever’s values. “This year, we made commitments to ensure that everyone who directly provides us with goods and services receives a living wage by 2030,” says Marc Engel, chief supply chain officer of Unilever. But that’s not all. “We’re increasing our spend with suppliers from underrepresented groups and committed to train 10 million young people.”