Have you ever wondered how a company’s strategy and commitment on climate change ends up being deployed? I do!
COP26 is over and what does it all mean?
For those a bit more distracted, COP26 (UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow), a conference meant to revisit climate pledges made under the 2015 Paris Agreement and brought together 120 world leaders and over 40,000 registered participants, including 22,274 party delegates, 14.124 observers and 3.886 media representatives.
This conference lasted for two weeks (from 31st Oct till 12th Nov 2021) and had the four main goals of:
Secure global net-zero by mid-century and keep 1.5C degrees within reach;
Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats;
And work together to deliver.
Well, the Glasgow Climate Pact (GCP) was produced out of this conference, which was unanimously agreed to by all participating countries. If each country meets the commitments in the GCP and other agreements, the reduced emissions could limit the growth of atmospheric temperatures to less than 2 degrees Celsius.
Christmas season and environmental impact
COP26 was over in November and guess what? We went back to our normal lives and it is Christmas! The “most wonderful time of year”? Right?
Analyzing in a bit more detail what impact the Christmas season typically has on our environment, it really doesn’t look promising. If you jump into google and type “Christmas environmental impact” several articles and stats come up on your screen.
For example, according to Forbes, about the UK alone, there are some alarming facts like over 125,000 tonnes of plastic packaging is used during the festive period and of that at least 3,000 tonnes is down the packaging for the festive dining center-piece, the turkey.
In the same article mentions that Ferrero Rocher produced by Ferrero SpA is one of the most popular Christmas treats in the UK. It sells at a rate that equals two treats per head of the entire population is actually 42% packaging and 58% product.
I also found this table, extracted from commercialwaste.trade, that displays the extra waste generated over the Christmas period each year, based on January rubbish and recycling collections:
How alarming is this? A bit of a contrast to the COP26 commitments made.
Many stats available online, many articles and documentation around how the Christmas season has a higher negative impact on the environment than any other season. Yet, although some attempts to minimize the problem like environmentally friendly wrapping paper or renting trees (to name a few), it still seems not even close to what we should be aiming for.
How to break the cycle?
Yes, we should ask consumers to consume less and break cultural habits, that are there for decades, but for me it comes down to the ecosystem between Government <> companies <> consumers that continues on with unbalanced approaches to the same issue. We see some committed world leaders, some committed companies and some committed citizens, but how to make this a global wide effort for all governments, companies and people?
At a government level, many countries still don’t demand certain responsibilities of waste producing to commercial entities and consumers. So, the COP26 commitment looks fantastic but how to start forcing some real action to promote change? As is, we are relying alone on more conscious business leaders and consumers. Wouldn’t this approach take longer?
At a consumer level, some of us already try to minimize impact and changes are slowly showing habits breaking. For example, when our kids' friends, their families and other influential adults do not necessarily share the same concerns or views, they end up sending miss-match signals to our efforts in raising our kids. So how to create a real community effort?
At a company level, what else could be done? Companies are committed to the environment so they power buildings with sustainable energy solutions, create training plans for leaders and employees, and yet, a Christmas campaign shows that the culture and the actions are still silo driven, disconnected to purpose and not aligned to the transformational culture that needs to take place to change.
Doesn’t it all come down to strategy deployment?
Government will continue their thing, consumers will slowly change habits but companies can do much more just by asking the right questions.
Let’s imagine for a second that a company already has a triple bottom line commitment and reports equally to shareholders on the environment, social and financial impacts. If that is the case and the Christmas season ends up having a typical Christmas impact on the environment, perhaps that is a sign that the strategy deployment should be revisited.
Here are some thoughts to consider on your next Christmas season to ensure the actions are aligned to the company’s environmental strategy.
Back to basics - Reduce, Reuse, repurpose, recycle:
Reduce - Sure we don’t want to reduce the financial effect that a Christmas season has on any company financial bottom line. However, how creative could you get commercially to educate the consumer to reduce their overconsumption the next Christmas season?
Reuse - A great example of out of the box thinking on reuse, that shows us, all year commitment to their environmental strategy, is IKEA’s second hand section. So, looking at your products and services, what could be done that would create an advantage to your consumer and an impact to the environment at the same time?
Repurpose and recycle - This particular one reminds me of a visit to a “disassembly” factory I visited in Japan. Co-Owned by Sony and Toshiba and some others, this factory was created out of the commitment of these brands to the environment. The way it works is that a customer receives a discount for returning the outdated product when purchasing a new one. The returned product goes to this factory to be disassembled into parts that could be repurposed within the actual brands factories or recycled to various different types of material that supply different industries. That said, what could you be doing more to offer your clients the will to participate in your company's commitment to recycle?
There are many things that could be considered to revisit your environmental strategy deployment efforts. These are some ideas only to get you started. After all, we all believe in the intent of COP26, we all understand the urgency, all we need is to rethink the HOW to put it in practice at Christmas seasons too.
Looking forward to seeing some mind blowing strategy deployment techniques to start moving the needle of impact to the environment, specially in the next Christmas season.
Disclaimer: Apologies if some interpretations may offend a reader. I do rely on literal translation at times since English is a second language. My intention with this article is to spread awareness. I welcome your feedback to ensure I will not be constantly making the same errors in translation.
I also write about my own life ,professional experience and learning curve. I am a continuous improvement learner so I welcome you to share extra information and spread awareness with me if you have other ways of analyzing the same issues or you have value-added information to the readers of this article. Thank you for reading.