A sustainable enterprise is a company that achieves enduring growth and superior long-term financial performance by addressing the social, economic, and environmental needs of present and future generations of stakeholders. Sustainable enterprises are both resilient and responsible.
Stakeholders include not only customers and shareholders, but also employees, local communities, regulators, lenders, suppliers, business partners, and advocacy groups.
Their sustainability expectations can be summarized in five principles:
Excellence in quality and value of products and services
Business ethics, including transparency and responsible governance
Economic well-being, including growth, prosperity, and continuity
Social well-being, including opportunity, equity, and human rights
Environmental well-being, including protection of climate, natural resources, ecology and biodiversity
Here are some key concepts related to sustainability:
Corporate Responsibility – Commitment to uphold the rights of citizens and communities, behave according to accepted ethical standards, and contribute to socio-economic development and quality of life.
Design for Sustainability – Systematic consideration, during new product and process development, of design implications over the full product life cycle from an environmental, social, and economic perspective.
Eco-efficiency – One aspect of sustainability that focuses on the resource intensity of a company’s operations, including the inputs of materials, natural resources, and energy required to manufacture and deliver a unit of output.
Green Chemistry – Exploration of alternative chemical reactions that can help to increase the eco-efficiency of industrial processes or increase the utilization of wastes and/or renewable resources as industrial feedstocks.
Industrial Ecology – A framework for shifting industrial systems from a linear model to a closed-loop model that resembles the cyclical flows of natural ecosystems, in which all waste materials have value as nutrients.
Life Cycle Assessment – A quantitative evaluation of the environmental sustainability impacts at each stage in a product life cycle, including resource extraction, procurement, transportation, manufacturing, product use, service, and end-of-life disposition or recovery.
Product stewardship – A process whereby all parties involved in the design, manufacture, sale and use of a product take joint responsibility for managing sustainability issues throughiut the product life cycle.
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