• Transform magazine
  • April 24, 2017

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Sustainable futures: Seeing 20/20

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The sustainability of the planet will impact the long term sustainability of every brand, place and organisation. For that reason, many brands have developed 2020 sustainability strategies, which they will try to complete in the next three years. Hassan Butt examines three such organisations

With 2020 fast approaching, many global organisations have that year in the crosshairs of corporate responsibility. Marking an important target for development, a growing number of institutions are working with each other to ensure that the date benchmarks significant growth in fostering sustainability worldwide. From universities to banks, sustainability is becoming synonymous with growth as industries take steps to creating renewable and environmentally friendly parameters to work within.

Taking a closer look at that approach, the examples of British supermarket chain, Sainsbury’s, the city of Dubai as it prepares to host the World Expo and global fast food chain, McDonald’s, provide vast and varying case studies into how sustainability can be implemented across an organisation. Raising global awareness about the importance of collective efforts is a challenge each of these brands hold closely to future developments.

Dubai: A city of luxuries, the excitement of Dubai is typified in vertical plateaus and ultramodern architecture. Yet as it prepares to host the World Expo in 2020, bringing together 180 nations and 25m visitors, laying the groundwork for a smart and sustainable city requires an integrated infrastructure that is crucial to lead economic growth.

With the introduction of the Dubai Plan 2021, both the government and executive council’s efforts to ready the city for the spectacle establishes a widespread push for a greener city. The plan unifies the entire spectrum of the city, from people to place and experience, projecting far reaching developments throughout Dubai. Ensuring the environment is clean, the plan proposes lower rates of carbon emissions per GDP, reducing solid waste generated per capita and improving the efficiency of public services.

Yet as the city hopes to improve on the overall experience when visiting Dubai and exemplary sustainability goals will play a major role in achieving that. The Dubai Plan 2021 hopes to cultivate wider advancements in the region and the ambition of bettering the many folds of society paints a picture of the magnitude of the project’s aims. Yet the challenge for Dubai will be whether it can sustain the fast- paced progressions of the landscape as well as transform the city into a regenerative body. With moderate air pollution and high levels of crude oil production and consumption, the focus must shift to lowering the city’s overall carbon footprint. As well as this, considering Emirati culture, hermetic in its religious and family-centred values, the plan must also be conscious of deep rooted customs in the region during its refinement of the city.

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Sainsbury’s: In 2011, Sainsbury’s launched its 20x20 Sustainability Plan, mapping out 20 objectives that hope to solidify its position as a leader in sustainable futures by 2020. The project pledges commitments to improving sustainability in health and nutrition, climate change and technology, tapping into various global problems that exist within those areas. Its promise is comprised of collective input, reaching out to consumers, staff and stakeholders to establish realistic parameters for sustainable growth as an organisation. In December 2015, Sainsbury’s evolved its targets, evaluating progress and establishing greater understanding of ongoing endeavours to better the environment.

In working to achieve their 2020 goals, Sainsbury’s numerous competitors share similar efforts in reducing the impact of supermarkets on the environment. Coinciding with the 2010 Climate Change Act, the UK’s national commitment to tackling climate change includes high pressure on big name supermarkets. Sainsbury’s targets continue to fall in line with the UK’s collective efforts. For one, the introduction of the ‘Waste Less, Save More initiative’ sees the supermarket aise awareness around the dangerous effects of national food wastage.

Sainsbury’s recent agreement with digital platform, Winnow, makes it the first UK supermarket to integrate digital solutions into its environmental programme.

Through pioneering alternative methods to reuse waste, Sainsbury’s efforts include recycling waste into fuel sources, donating surplus food to charity partners to feed vulnerable people through food banks and, in its Prescot Road store in Liverpool, unused bananas are sent to Knowsley Safari Park to feed a growing community of monkeys. Sainsbury’s has enjoyed industry success since its inception in 1869. Its recent sustainability developments have seen it become the first retail outlet to come off the National Grid, powering a West Midlands store using energy sourced from food waste.

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McDonald’s: As global fast food restaurant chain, McDonald’s, continues to champion the changing landscape of convenience products, continuing expansion and industry development now regard sustainability as a crucial component of its success. With over 36,000 locations worldwide and a net income of over $4bn, McDonald’s sustainability commitments translate to universal sourcing of environmentally friendly ingredients throughout the entirety of its product range.

With the focus on its McCafé range of products, McDonald’s push for 100% sustainability in 2020 saw a 63% increase in the volume of sustainably sourced coffee in 2015. Francesca DeBiase, chief supply chain and sustainability officer at McDonald’s, says, “As one of the largest coffee retailers in the world, every step we take toward sustainability has the potential for tremendous positive impact. Our size and global reach give us the responsibility to lead meaningful change in the world. However, there is only one way to achieve global coffee sustainability, and that’s by working closely with our partners and our suppliers. Working together, we can expand sustainable practices worldwide for our business, build capacity for our coffee producers, and secure the future health of our planet.”

As McDonald’s global commitment to improving sustainable sourcing continues to progress, building a greater capacity for sustainable products remains a top goal for the organisation. In September 2015, McDonald’s announced the use of cage-free eggs throughout the US and Canada. In addition, the organisation also made a global commitment to deforestation, working collaboratively with its vast range of stakeholders, suppliers and NGO partners to ensure a long-term involvement in developing solutions to protecting rainforests worldwide.

With its continuous involvement in establishing the right steps towards greener production, McDonald’s commitments coincide with a push to better health and nutrition throughout its numerous products, improving recipes and adding more options to its menus, McDonald’s ongoing growth is grounded in fostering a sustainable future.