Sustainability is the only business model that will survive.
Using the words “paper” and “sustainability” in the same sentence makes perfect sense!
Paper is actually one of the most sustainable products on the planet and some papermakers are among the most responsible companies in the world – because they know it’s the smart way for today’s businesses to ensure they’ll still be around tomorrow.
Many corporations have made sustainability part of their core vision, linking it directly to their strategies for growth and innovation. This connection to innovation is an important one since, according to sustainable business experts, increasing market demand for sustainable products has been a prime motivator of technological advancement in recent years, and a top success factor for many companies.
“The key to progress, particularly in times of economic crisis, is innovation,” said an article in the Harvard Business Review. “By treating sustainability as a goal today, early movers will develop competencies that rivals will be hard-pressed to match. That competitive advantage will stand them in good stead, because sustainability will always be an integral part of development.”
Domtar is one of those early movers, having adopted the “green path” long before many thought it was possible for a pulp and paper company to be sustainable. In 2003, the company committed to certifying its forests, manufacturing, converting and distribution operations to the stringent standards of the Forest Stewardship Council™ (FSC®), Sustainable Forestry Initiative® and/or Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification™. This target was reached in 2009. Domtar’s efforts in this regard and in other areas of sustainability have led to successful, long-term relationships with leading environmental groups like Rainforest Alliance and the World Wildlife Fund – and helped increase its business!
The growing availability of environmentally responsible products is a clear indication of industry’s responsiveness to the values of its customer base. In fact, more and more companies are reviewing their overall supply chain with a view to both reducing their environmental footprint and strengthening their brand with consumers, who themselves are increasingly conscious of the impact of their purchasing decisions.
The selection of a sustainable paper is one of the key decisions companies can make to improve their environmental scorecard, along with other responsible choices like lower emission trucks and alternative fuels. And many are doing just that. So supplying this blossoming demand just makes good business sense – and proves that sustainability can have a positive impact on the bottom line.
Examples of how sustainability can lead to opportunity abound, and here’s an example from our own experience. A firm commitment to “green” practices has been a very successful business model for Domtar, not to mention a great differentiator. It was also the driving force behind our bold entry into the emerging nanotechnology sector. Our nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC), a renewable, recyclable and abundant nanomaterial made of cellulose fibers from the wood pulp manufacturing process, has potential applications for the aerospace, automotive, chemical, textile and other industries. A product of the future for a company with its sights on the long-term.
And there’s that link again between sustainability and good business... Another recent article in the Harvard Business Review pointed out that: “Even those [companies] concerned about only business and not the fate of the planet recognize that the viability of business itself depends on the resources of healthy ecosystems.”2 And as surprising at it might seem to some, papermakers and other large resource-based manufacturers contribute to these healthy ecosystems by helping protect them through responsible management practices. They do this not only because it’s in their interest but also because it’s also the right thing to do for the future.
Sustainability and success go hand in hand. Forward-looking companies recognize this, as do companies that make responsible choices which help protect the planet – and also happen to shine a positive light on their brand and reputation! Sustainability is also a source of inspiration and is helping companies in sectors across the spectrum of industry build innovative and customer-focused businesses that are in line to prosper throughout the 21st century and beyond.
1 Nidumolu, Ram, Prahalad, C.K. and Rangaswami, M.R. Why Sustainability Is Now the Key Driver of Innovation. Harvard Business Review, September 2009
2 Chouinard, Yvon, Ellison, Jib and Ridgeway, Rick. The Big Idea: The Sustainable Economy. Harvard Business Review, October 2011