Operating outside of the needless global warming debate, businesses who adopt green practices as a long-term strategy seem to enjoy great financial benefits across the board: increased energy savings, Government-funded incentives and higher profitability. In 2018, green business trends seem to expand their reach across all sectors, leading to a paradigm shift and reshaping the image of the perfect company. In 2018, entrepreneurs are leveraging the benefits of the green business model and launching new initiatives and operations aimed to help the environment and the economy. They are ready to answer to the stringent consumer demand for corporate environmental awareness and increased transparency: according to a green industry report conducted in 60 countries, more than half of consumers are willing to pay extra for products and services, as long as they are better for the environment. At present, 70% of Americans already take eco-friendliness into account as a differentiating factor between suppliers.
Investing in renewable energy
On April 9, 2018, Apple announced that they were completely powered by renewable energy. All of the company’s stores, offices and data centers in 43 counties across the globe rely solely on wind and solar power, and nine additional manufacturing partners announced their intention of powering their Apple production with green energy. This is just one of the many examples of international brands willing to invest millions in powering their operations with renewable energy and it’s interesting to see that the list is getting longer and longer, featuring not only multinational tech giants, but also small, local businesses. More and more business owners choose renewable energy sources such as solar panels for their offices or coming up with innovative ways of turning waste into energy.
Taking ethical action to reducing the business’ carbon footprint
Businesses have a major carbon footprint, so taking steps towards reducing it is one of the main trends of 2018. Again, this is another field where tech companies seem to be leading the race by making carbon footprint reduction practices mainstream. Some of the ways they’re doing this include: going paperless, encouraging employees to cycle to work, activating power saving mode on all devices or switching computers with energy-saving laptops. At a larger scale, these companies are making changes that could also change the modern workplace in the long run. For example, telecommuting has become more and more popular and as much as 60% of American, Indian and Indonesian employers have remote work arrangements. Made possible by the latest innovations in cloud computing, telecommuting reduces the company’s carbon footprint because employees no longer have to drive to work.
Extensive efforts to reduce waste
Although it might not seem related to climate change, waste is actually one of the biggest environmental challenges that the planet is facing. And businesses are generating a lot of it: paper, plastic, metal, toxic by-products of manufacturing, food, organic matter can all harm the environment in the long run if not collected and recycled correctly. Fortunately, more and more businesses are adopting the zero waste policy to promote a circular economy. One part of the zero-waste policy involves reusing as much as possible – for example, many supermarkets are donating leftover food to local food banks instead of throwing it away. Then, there are the special containers created especially for workplace recycling, such as recycling bins, balers and compactors. This helps achieve a cleaner and safer environment while saving time, space and money, so for 2018 experts expect them to become more and more widespread.
The rise of the green franchise
Green business practices have created great franchising opportunities for local, national and international suppliers. In the following year, consumers are expected to see more of the following:
– Organic food stores – these are already quite mainstream, especially in urban centers, where sales exceed over $35 billion. As more and more people are interested in buying healthy, locally sourced, organic goods, the traditional fast food business model faces more competition from the healthy fast food chain model. Other similar models include organic catering services and organic restaurants.
– Green cleaning franchises – conventional cleaning companies, be them residential or commercial, often use harsh detergents and cleaning agents that pollute water, soil and reduce air quality, so green cleaning franchises suggest a cleaner alternative, based on organic, non-toxic, biodegradable ingredients.
– Increased awareness of ecological issues has created an opportunity for energy auditing businesses, which assist homeowners in building eco-friendly properties.
– Green printing services suggest an eco-friendly alternative to conventional printing services by using recycled paper and non-toxic ink.
Increasing environmental standards generate a lot of pressure. Business owners know that consumers care about green policies and that the green business model increases revenue, so many of them are tempted to create an eco-friendly image even though they are not. This is called greenwashing and it’s one of the biggest problems associated with green business trends. Companies that greenwash are not fully transparent. They advertise only one ethical aspect of their business (such as organic products or paperless operations) and hide other unethical practices that do a lot of harm to the environment. Unfortunately, greenwashing practices are expected to become more widespread, and it’s oftentimes up to consumers to do their own research.