Step by step: how to become a sustainable, innovative, and profitable business 

  • By Antoine Giroir
    • 07 Nov, 2022
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Step by step how to become a sustainable business

In part 1, we discussed how sustainable businesses are profitable businesses. Aside from increased profits, sustainable businesses gain a competitive edge and attract more consumers and candidates, all while making a positive impact. In part 2, we touch upon the easy way to get started on your transition to becoming a sustainable business.

The NBS’ three axioms previously mentioned are the contraction of steps a company eager to bring change can take: 

Sustainable innovation does not require state-of-the-art science or techniques. It can take the form of very simple modifications. This is the “do the same thing better” axiom, sometimes called the “eco-efficiency” approach. This approach aims at reducing day-to-day activities’ negative impact on the environment and society.  

Some examples are: consuming less energy for the same or a better productivity rate, less printing, less food waste, and reducing non-recyclable packaging. Plastic packaging contributes almost USD 40 billion worth of greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental damage every year, considering sustainable packaging will greatly improve supply chain cost savings. 

Energy efficiency is also a valuable example of how to “do the same thing better.” US-certified energy-efficient buildings consume, on average, 35% less energy than similar buildings. This represents substantial green savings that can be invested in other departments later to keep on lowering greenhouse gas emissions to our atmosphere while supporting the business’s growth. 

Step by step sustainable development

Below is a list of projects funded by the Decarbonization Incentive Program that supports companies attain incremental GHG reductions by doing “the same thing better” 

Category Activity 
Energy efficiency Stationary equipment retrofits for energy efficiency 
Fuel switching Stationary equipment retrofits for fuel switching 
Energy production Cogeneration or combined heat & power production 
Non-energy related Industrial product use changes (e.g., refrigerants) 
Carbon capture Carbon capture & storage 

For the second axiom, the focus is set on pure innovation: “Doing good by doing new things”. The word innovation refers to the introduction onto the market of a new or significantly improved product or process compared to those previously developed. Two types of innovation are to be distinguished: product innovations (goods or services) and process innovations (including organizational and marketing innovations). This classic definition of innovation covers the second part of the second step: “by doing new things”. Leaving us with the question: What does “doing good” mean? If the first step attempt to reduce its impact, this second step seeks to completely transform its activities. Thus, the objective is not only to be careful but to proactively adopt sustainable innovation as a business opportunity. The company identifies and acts as a servant of societal and environmental needs while generating profits and engaging in the continuous flow of sustainable innovation where everything remains to be done. 

The final axiom of this process is to “do good by doing new things with others”. This last statement is only possible when a company fully acknowledges its role and the limit of independent and separate actions to tackle climate change. From this statement, a company will join, support, or create its own network to provide and participate in the creation of a global environment where sustainable innovation can thrive. Collaboration with other stakeholders will foster innovation from basic research (the risk) to commercialization (the benefit). This collaboration will provide creative minds with the training, resources, and funding necessary to protect the planet as well as the economic development of the companies and institutes involved. 

Each company has its own audience, its own pace, and processes. These three axioms can be understood as three steps, which can be done separately or at the same time. A company might ban plastic straws on-site while seeking to enter the NBS or the GEC while another company will only have the resources to focus on the development of environmental training for their employees. Those changes, if not willingly undertaken now can and will most likely be provoked by increasing sanctions over the coming years: 

  • In London, Ontario, an aerobic digestion facility (a process in sewage treatment) was fined $62,500 for two violations of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA). However, the company agreed to contribute between $120,000 and $150,000 towards the cost of establishing an air monitoring program in South London. 
sustainable development

Today, any company can find official programs, training, and guidance to encourage managers to integrate environmental management and sustainability into ordinary business activity. Such training can have a significant impact on the company’s activity and strategy. It can be used to improve the entire supply chain as risk management becomes more perceptive and efficient (see ESG). Those skills also help develop the business by attracting a new clientele and investors as the company’s strategic development shifts to better align with requirements coming from the people, the politics, and the finance sector.  

Minimize risks, and receive financial support. How to complete a successful transformation through public funding 

Sustainable innovation is no different from traditional innovation when it comes to risks and investment. Fruitful or failing, innovation is overall about investment. If the finance industry is working on “Exploring short-term climate-related shocks for financial actors with macroeconomic models” (see the webinar here) the industry is still offering too few tools to support companies in their transformations. One type of investor is already working with researchers, businesses, and citizens: Governments

A grant is a way for the government funds ideas and projects that will most likely have an impact on public services, stimulate the economy and help implement policies. It can be given by a federal, state, or local government authority for a specific project. Grants are specialized in funding ideas (fundamental research) and projects that aim to stimulate the economy (commercialization). Receiving a government grant is highly prestigious and frequently brings an individual or entity to the attention of the media, it also de-risks the financing of a project for other financial partners. Your project convinced the government and its experts that your work is worth encouraging. On this account, your project receives interest-free and non-repayable capital to develop, scale, and commercialize the innovation

Once you have identified a need to which you can bring an innovative answer to the market or you innovate for internal needs in your company, Leyton helps you identify the proper opportunities, set up, coordinate, and follow up your applications both technically and financially. From the feasibility phase to the development of a prototype, your R&D and study expenses can be co-financed by provincial or federal grants.  

Leyton’s Grant Department will help you navigate the public funding landscape to find the perfect opportunity for your business and will then undertake all steps of the funding request to minimize the time invested in such procedures. We will keep you focused on the execution of your R&D projects, the scaling, and the sustainable shift of your business. 

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