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How Australian businesses can successfully improve their sustainability.

How Australian businesses can successfully improve their sustainability.
By Simon Williams
October 7, 2016

Sustainability is something that all Australians need to consider seriously nowadays. Climate change is being accelerated by 26 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide being emitted into the atmosphere every year. Even worse, since the year 2000, the World Resources Institute has reported a 30% increase in carbon emissions. The environmental impact from carbon emissions is something that can no longer be ignored.


  • Ice melting on the Earth’s polar caps, causing the ocean to rise.
  • Sea waters increasing in temperature and potentially killing sea life.
  • Disruptions to the Earth’s climate that may result in increased natural disasters such as flooding and droughts.
  • Disruptions to agriculture may lead to starvation epidemics in fragile environments.
  • Rising sea waters will cause shorelines and even islands to disappear underwater, forcing people to migrate and population disruptions.


Sustainability and corporate social responsibility are key issues that every Australian business needs to face up to and many businesses have committed to making changes by 2020 and 2050. However, businesses like yours can make a real difference by adopting more eco-friendly practices in your business.


The key to succeeding is to create a business model that strikes the right balance between improving sustainability and making profits. It seems challenging, but is actually achievable for most businesses. If business leaders set objectives to emit zero carbon or maintain a closed loop, then the business will be on the right path to implementing eco-friendly measures within the business. 


Mike Barry, who is the Head of Sustainable Business for Marks & Spencer in the UK says “The planet is a part of your business model. There is no business model with out the planet.” In order to successfully implement sustainability initiatives, your business needs to go beyond talking about the benefits to the planet and focus on the benefits to the consumer and for your business. Ask the question “How can sustainability make by business provide something cheaper, faster, more convenient or aspirational?”


Your business needs to make it easy for people get involved with sustainability, without them having to make major sacrifices. The challenges that your business needs to solve include:


  • Providing the business benefits
  • Providing the consumer benefits
  • Providing the environmental benefits


Ultimately, you should aim to become the ‘Tesla’ of your industry.


How to create an eco-friendly business model

One of the ways to make sustainability work in your business model is by creating a lifetime loyalty by getting people to return their previously owned products for new ones. Mobile phone businesses do this by allowing customers to trade-in and upgrade their phones, which allows them to make more recurring sales and extend the lifetime value of the customer. The phones can then be resold, reused or recycled through their own initiatives, partnerships or collaborations. See how your business can build partnerships where items can be reused or recycled through donations or trade-ins. Also see if your business can collaborate with local government organisations, charities, non-profit organisations.


Transportation schemes.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 7 out of 10 people use vehicles to commute to work. Each vehicle contributes heavily CO2 emissions. Most Australians need cars to commute to work and their social activities. Additionally, businesses might need their staff to go on trips to see customers or suppliers, adding to business’s carbon emissions from transportation. Additionally, employees usually have to pay for car parks out of their own pocket, which can easily set them back $50 or more a day! Businesses can improve this by implementing the following.


Encourage employees to exercise when commuting to work.

Employees can save money by walking, cycling or running to work. They will improve their health, alertness and mental performance, which is great for them and their business. However, businesses can go a step further by rewarding employees for their healthy commute such as:


  • Reduced working hours
  • Extra paid holidays
  • Gifts
  • Paid bonuses
  • Subsidies for their exercise equipment


Additionally, businesses that provide or that are located close to bathroom facilities where employees can prepare for their working day will also motivate people to commute to work by walking, running or cycling.



You can also help employees reduce their commuting costs by carpooling with other employees or participating in carpool communities such as Coseats or Uber, whereby the business could subsidise employees commuting costs.



People can choose to commute to work on public transport. Depending on the location, employees may choose to commute on the train, bus or boats. Employees could also motivate employees by subsidising costs for employees.



You can improve your business’s contribution to carbon emissions by incentivising employees to move closer to your business. According to Forbes, Facebook helps their employees move closer to their headquarters by offering them a $10,000 relocation bonus. A bonus-system like this could be provided given to employees on a monthly basis and help subsidise the cost of their rent or mortgage, provided that they live within a 10km radius. Businesses that have adopted this incentive see more productivity from workers, as well as their employees choosing to commute to work by walking or cycling.



The best way to cut down commuting costs is by allowing people to work from home. Not only does working from home cut-down on commuting costs and carbon emissions, but it has been proven to increase productivity and employee happiness.


Click here to start improving making eco-friendly changes to your business!


Change your business’s and employees consumption habits to minimise waste.

Businesses contribute a lot of waste to landfill, which impacts the environment. The problem caused from the way we dispose non-biodegradable products such as plastics that could take hundreds or thousands of years to degrade. This occurs because business leaders fail to implement a culture where employees can implement habits that prevent waste and encourages reuse and recycling. Businesses can make a difference by implementing the following actions.



Employees that adopt minimalist habits tend to be more productive, less distracted and eco-friendly. This is because they eliminate the excess and focus on the things that add value to them and their work. By encouraging employees to embrace a minimalism, you should see employees accruing and using fewer items while improving their productivity and the business’s sustainability efforts.



Office items such as scissors, post it notes, pads, tapes, paper clips, tissues and more should be placed in a central location in your office. Staff should be encourage to place items that can be reused into the store for other staff members. This should reduce the amount of consumption, waste and new order costs. Healthcare business Fairview Health Services saved $1 million in supply costs and 14,000kg in waste.



Disposable tableware such as paper towels, plastic cups, cutlery and spoons are a common source of waste in most businesses. Businesses should provide or encourage staff to invest in reusable items such as towels, plates, mugs, containers and cutlery. Items can be placed in a dishwasher



Create waste stations to improve the disposal habits in your office. Clearly label bins with text and images and colour code them to make it easier for people within your office to dispose items correctly. You can encourage staff to dispose plastics, glass, paper and metals in different disposal units.



Food waste contributes enormously to the world’s carbon footprint, accounting for 3.3 billion tons of carbon per year and $750 billion a year in wasted food costs. Some of the common ways food is wasted includes:


  • Spoilage
  • Pests
  • Transportation damage
  • Consume the food by the best by dates
  • Minimise portion sizes.


Some of the immediate actions that the businesses can implement include the following.



Businesses waste a lot of costs because of the way they use and dispose of paper. It is important for businesses to print important documents to fulfil their business’s operations, however  (stats on printing costs and waste).


According to a 2005 study by the Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance, the average office worker used 10,000 sheets of paper per year at an average cost of $53 per case, which is about $106 per employee given that they use about 2 cases per year. The associated costs of using paper is more alarming and is usually overseen in most businesses. Other significant costs include:


  • Storage
  • Copying
  • Postage
  • Printing
  • Disposal
  • Recycling


Considering these associated costs, the cost of the purchase price can skyrocket $3310 per employee, which is 31 times the original price paid. It is important that businesses start implementing better printing solutions and work towards having a paperless office.


Immediate actions that businesses can take include:


  • Reducing the disposal of their printer cartridges by partnering with a business like Cartridges Direct that can supply them with ink refills, which are cheaper than purchasing a new ink cartridge.
  • Close the wastage loop by purchasing printer cartridges from businesses like Cartridges Direct who will also recycle your business’s used cartridges.
  • Encourage employees to print on both sides of paper.
  • Invest in printing machines that will trigger printing by an activated card from an employee.
  • Purchasing recycled paper that is also environmentally friendly.
  • Sharing documents through email, cloud-based software or by collaborating online with web platforms such as Google Drive.
  • Encouraging paperless meetings by presenting with slideshows or encouraging staff to use their laptops or smart devices to view any documentation.



Technology can amplify a businesses rate of success when it comes to sustainability. It is up to businesses to identify and use technologies relevant to their business that can reduce environmental impacts. Below are a few suggestions that can positively impact the sustainability initiatives of your business.


LED lights

Lighting accounts for 15% of the world’s electricity consumption. Sustainability experts believe that a global transition to highly efficient LED lamps could avoid 735 Mt of CO2 emissions. This is equivalent to 250 coal-fired power plants around the world. LED lighting is the optimal solution for businesses that want to reduce their energy consumption costs since switching to LED lighting, can reduce annual energy consumption and costs by up to 80%.


Some of the leading LED lighting companies that your business can partner with include:


LEDified (Australia-wide LED light provider)

Winner of the Australian Business Award for Innovation, LEDified are committed to helping businesses reduce their electricity costs as well as their impact on the environment. Their LED solutions have helped retail, industrial and commercial businesses such as BMW Doncaster reduce their energy consumption by over $28,000 per year by retrofitting their business with LED light fittings. Businesses can also benefit from energy incentive schemes that are available.


Victorian Energy Efficiency Target (VEET)

The scheme is designed to make energy efficient improvements more affordable for Victorian-based businesses. Businesses can receive discounts and special offers on energy-saving products. The bigger the greenhouse emission savings the product provides, the bigger savings the business can receive.


New South Wales Energy Savings Scheme (NSS)

The Energy Savings Scheme is available to New South Wales based businesses that want to invest or upgrade their business to be more efficient with its energy consumption.



When choosing electrical equipment to use in your business, you can opt for energy efficient or smart technology that is eco-friendly. They may have a function that allows them to power down or turn off when they aren’t being used. They may also be designed to run on a low amount of energy. This could range from printers to televisions or monitors.



Cloud technology has allowed businesses to easily implement sustainable practices. Software as a service (SAAS) and cloud programs have reduced the need for businesses to purchase computer hardware such as servers which need to be on for long periods or all of the time. By migrating to cloud-based software, the costs and contribution to carbon emissions are shifted to the suppliers who have their own eco-friendly way of managing the software service’s hardware.



Energy suppliers.

Another way businesses can reduce their impact on the environment is by switching from energy providers that generate energy by burning fossil fuels such as coal and oil to renewable energy companies that generate energy from wind, solar and hydro. Renewable energy companies can provide energy at a low cost because they pass on the savings compared to other energy suppliers to their customers. This is good for businesses that want to reduce their overhead costs, as well as the environment. Some of the renewable energy companies that Australian businesses in the following states can consider partnering with the following eco-friendly energy providers.


Ergon Energy (Solar initiatives)

New South Wales

AGL (Solar energy provider)

Northern Territory

Jacanda Energy (Solar energy provider)


Alinta Energy (Solar energy provider)

South Australia

Alinta Energy (Solar energy provider)

Western Australia

Alinta Energy (Solar energy provider)

Perth Energy (Renewable energy provider)


Momentum Energy (Hydro and wind power)




There are several ways your business can easily get involved with sustainability practices that will also help to reduce climate change. If you would like to learn more, get in touch with Cartridge Directs’ sustainability team.