As consumers become increasingly aware of the impact that their purchasing decisions have on the environment, businesses are under more pressure than ever to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability. The unfortunate drawback of rapid growth is that it’s almost impossible for most people to keep up.
In a recent internet sweep, the ACCC found more than half of assessed businesses have made exaggerated or misleading claims about their environmental impact. There’s no denying that the ACCC should be taking a strong stance against greenwashing, but with clear guidelines being released only recently, sustainability leadership roles being relatively new, and the fragmented silos that many teams find themselves in — it’s clear that sustainability professionals are fighting an uphill battle.
Since our 2020 launch, our market research has found that it isn’t uncommon for businesses to struggle communicating their sustainability initiatives internally – let alone to their customers and stakeholders. In fact, over 30% of sustainability managers have never worked in sustainability prior.
Very soon, ESG transparency will be a regulatory requirement in Australia, but without adequate support for the people in charge, it’s likely that we’ll see businesses falling short.
Sustainable Choice Group is tackling this issue with education initiatives, professional development networks, and simple transparency tools that help businesses drive sustainable progress and communicate it in a clear and concise way.
This month, Sustainable Choice Group launched the “Sustainable Transformation Podcast” on the Nova Network. The podcast will feature interviews with business leaders who have successfully transformed their companies to become more sustainable. By sharing these success stories and how challenges can be overcome, we hope to give people a look under the covers, inspiring other businesses to take action.
Sustainable Choice Group is also launching LiSN, the “Leaders in Sustainability Network,” which will help accelerate sustainable development across Australia. LiSN will provide a platform for businesses to connect with each other and share best practices, as well as access to training and resources to help emerging leaders.
Education aside, a huge challenge faced by sustainability professionals is information asymmetry. Companies have more information about their supply chain, operations and initiatives than is easily communicable to consumers. The state of play is that many businesses are making progress and achieving measurable results under recognised industry frameworks, but when it comes to sharing them, are doomed to being lost in the sea of technical language, certifications and niche standards.
We built SustainabilityTracker.com back in 2020 to address this challenge. It’s a central destination where sustainable progress can be stored, substantiated and shared internally and externally at the press of a button.
Our focus is presenting the data in a way that supports fast, accurate consumer dissertation. Product lifecycle disclosure is a great example of a fairly complex process that most people don’t have time to consider when buying laundry detergent for example. The flip side is that businesses are hesitant to pursue meaningful supply chain improvements as they’re far less marketable than offsets or social partnerships.
We worked to create a visual representation of the product lifecycle that allows consumers at a glance to determine not only which aspects specifically are more responsible, but also where the gaps are.
We’ve also just introduced a Documents Library tool to create a simple-to-manage, but highly versatile repository of supporting certificates, reports, assessments & accreditations. What this really means is that a friendly, customer facing voice has a sophisticated foundation of absolute proof.
We wanted to eliminate the common pain points altogether, so the platform will remind you when documents are due for renewal and are quick and easy to update. No more spreadsheets, web dev costs, dead links or difficult navigation that may red-flag regulators and consumers.
The forestry industry is one area where responsible procurement can have a significant impact on sustainability.
Sustainable Choice Group’s Foundation Member, Responsible Wood, has been at the forefront of sustainability initiatives in the industry. They have implemented a chain of custody certification program that ensures wood products are sourced from sustainably managed forests. The lifecycle of procurement is completely broken down into accessible chunks, and in-depth details of the certification framework are attached in full to every reference made on their SustainabilityTracker.com profile, encouraging informed choice, and normalising the expectation of substantiated claims.
Another Foundation Member, The Australian Furnishing Association are also making fantastic contributions by demystifying third-party certification and product stewardships on SustainabilityTracker.com as well as being heavily involved in professional development networks like Wood Central & LiSN.
Transparency and accountability are critical to building a sustainable future. The work being done by the ACCC, Sustainable Choice Group and Industry Leaders like Responsible Wood & the AFA to promote transparency is an important step in the right direction. However, more needs to be done to ensure that consumers can make informed choices and that companies are held accountable for their sustainability practices. With continued collaboration between regulators, businesses, and consumers, we can build a more sustainable future for ourselves and future generations.