13 Nov


The concept of sustainability in business has evolved. In the past, it wasn’t a primary concern. Environmental and social considerations often took a backseat to immediate economic interests, with the prevailing mindset prioritising short-term profits and economic growth over long-term environmental and societal well-being.

This, however, is beginning to change as issues like climate change, biodiversity loss and economic inequality have come to the forefront of public awareness.

There’s now a new generation of consumers that realise the gravity of the situation and are compelling businesses to address it. Corporate sustainability has become more than just a superficial marketing tool or a passing trend. It’s a business imperative and those that can strike the delicate balance between societal contribution, planetary protection and economic viability will be the ones that gain a competitive edge in an increasingly conscious world.

This article looks at how businesses can begin implementing sustainability practices in their operations, looking at everything from eco-friendly products to renewable energy initiatives, and how entrepreneurship and making a positive impact on the environment are not mutually exclusive concepts.

Eco-Friendly Products

Eco-friendly products, often called ‘green’ or sustainable products, are all about keeping the environment in mind. They're designed using processes and materials that go easy on the planet compared to their traditional counterparts. They include anything from biodegradable packaging and energy-efficient appliances to organic clothing and electric vehicles.

Transitioning to these types of products is a good first step towards a more sustainable business model and the benefits are twofold: First, by relying on renewable resources, you’ll minimise waste, and cut down on emissions, but perhaps more importantly, using eco-friendly products will help you strike a chord with an ever-growing group of consumers who put a premium on sustainability.

Generation Z, comprising an impressive 40% of the global consumer base, are rapidly emerging as the most influential market segment. Their strong commitment to environmental values means that businesses embracing eco-friendly products can find loyal brand advocates among this group and leverage a powerful and ever-expanding market that values responsible choices.

Many businesses have embraced sustainability with great success. Companies like Patagonia, famous for their eco-conscious outdoor gear, have not only won over a loyal customer base but have also shown that being green can be profitable. Similarly, Burt's Bees offers a wide range of environmentally friendly personal care products made from natural ingredients, Tesla with its electric vehicles proves that sustainable transportation can be innovative and financially rewarding, and Beyond Meat has disrupted the food industry with its plant-based meat alternatives.

REI, the outdoor retail co-op, also plays a significant role by offering a variety of sustainable outdoor products, from camping gear to clothing, with a strong focus on environmental responsibility and sustainable practices. And don't forget about brands like Seventh Generation and Ecover, which have made significant strides in the household cleaning product sector by providing eco-friendly alternatives that do less harm to the environment.

For business looking to follow in these footsteps, the opportunities are plentiful: Create a company that provides businesses with eco-friendly packaging options or establish a fashion rental platform that allows customers to rent high-quality, sustainably made clothing for special occasions. You could even design and sell furniture and home decor items made from upcycled or repurposed materials.

Green Services

Green services are like the sibling of eco-friendly products, cut from the same cloth. They're all about preserving the environment while delivering services that minimise any negative impact on our planet. This can include energy-efficient consulting and eco-friendly transportation to sustainable tourism or event planning. These services make it possible for organisations to meet their sustainability goals without always creating physical eco-friendly products.

The benefits are significant. These services reduce resource consumption, slash waste generation, and curb harmful emissions. For instance, businesses offering green transportation services often use fuel-efficient vehicles or promote shared mobility, which means less fuel consumption and fewer greenhouse gas emissions. When it comes to sustainable tourism, it's all about safeguarding fragile ecosystems and supporting local communities while keeping the ecological footprint of travellers to a minimum.

If you’re looking for success stories, look no further than Airbnb. They've turned the travel and hospitality industry on its head by being pioneers of sustainable tourism. Then there are consulting firms like Deloitte, which have made a mark with eco-conscious consulting services that help other businesses shrink their environmental impact while supercharging their efficiency and profitability. By weaving woven environmental responsibility right into their service offerings, they’ve not just boosted their bottom lines, they’ve also created a brand identity that's hard to ignore.

Waste Reduction and Recycling

While sustainability encompasses many aspects, none is more pivotal than waste reduction and recycling. It permeates every aspect of business and is often one of the easiest areas to address first. Overflowing landfills, pollution, and resource depletion have dire consequences and waste reduction and recycling are the obvious answers to these challenges.

There are various models you can adopt to develop efficient waste management strategies:

  • Closed-loop systems: These models prioritise recycling and reusing materials within the production process, reducing the need for new resources.
  • Waste-to-energy: Innovative technologies transform waste into a valuable energy source, benefiting both the environment and businesses.
  • Upcycling ventures: Companies ingeniously craft new products from discarded materials, giving a fresh lease of life to items that would have ended up as waste.
  • Waste collection and sorting: Effective collection and sorting systems ensure recyclable materials don't meet a landfill's end, contributing to a more sustainable future.

Numerous businesses have wholeheartedly embraced this to good effect. Terracycle, a trailblazer in recycling hard-to-recycle materials, has diverted billions of pieces of waste from landfills, Ecover also, has made substantial strides in reducing the environmental impact of household cleaning products through sustainable materials and production methods, and of course Sparklo, one of RAKEZ’s many success stories, is revolutionising the recycling process by installing reverse vending machines (RVM’s) which incentivise the user’s recycling efforts with mobile app rewards which can be exchanged for food, delivery services and other special offers. These businesses illustrate that waste reduction and recycling are not only environmentally responsible but also financially lucrative. They've harnessed the power of sustainability to create a positive impact while contributing to a circular and sustainable economy.

Renewable Energy Businesses: Pioneering a Sustainable Future

Renewable energy is a massive emerging industry which is gathering significant momentum, particularly in the UAE where it’s seen significant investments and promotion in recent years. There are lucrative opportunities in solar, wind, and other renewable energies in the Emirates as well as plenty of support for companies entering this space.

Ras Al Khaimah’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Strategy, in particular, includes various initiatives and incentives to encourage businesses and individuals to adopt renewable energy solutions.

With the emirate’s abundant sunshine throughout the year, solar power is an attractive option and companies in Ras Al Khaimah can benefit from feed-in tariffs and net metering arrangements to make solar power generation more financially viable.

Ras Al Khaimah’s coastline also offers significant potential for wind energy projects, with financial incentives such as subsidies, grants and long-term Power Purchase Agreements (PPA’s) readily available.

These initiatives and support demonstrate that the transition to clean energy is not only environmentally responsible but also financially viable.

Exploring the Concept of Sustainable Supply Chains

Sustainability is not just confined to the end product, it can also be applied at every stage of a company’s supply chain, from raw material extraction to the delivery of the final product to consumers. This holistic approach has far-reaching benefits. It’s a means to reduce waste, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and limit resource consumption. It also streamlines operations by enabling cost cuts and improved resource management.

Businesses that prioritise sustainability across their entire operation also tend to garner public goodwill and build a positive brand image. The success stories are many and underscore the immense potential of this approach.

Unilever is known for its Sustainable Living Plan, which includes commitments to source raw materials sustainably, reduce waste, and promote eco-friendly products. They work on creating a sustainable supply chain for various consumer goods, from food to personal care products. Walmart, one of the world's largest retailers, is another good example. It has been actively pursuing sustainability in its supply chain and has set ambitious goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting sustainable sourcing.

Patagonia, a renowned outdoor clothing company, also places a strong emphasis on sustainability throughout its supply chain. They use recycled materials, reduce water and energy consumption, and promote ethical labour practices.

The above examples showcase the pivotal role that sustainability plays in business operations, and how a responsible supply chain approach can lead to both ecological preservation and financial prosperity.

Sustainable initiatives by RAKEZ

RAKEZ is at the forefront of promoting environmentally responsible practices among businesses. As a hub of sustainability and growth, it provides an ideal platform for entrepreneurs and established companies to thrive while minimising their ecological footprint.

The Industrial Energy Audit initiative, a cornerstone of RAKEZ’s comprehensive Energy Efficiency and Renewables Strategy 2040, is a perfect demonstration of this. Its primary goal is to assist local industries in identifying and capturing energy-saving opportunities. This is achieved through a multi-faceted approach:

  • 1. Professional audits: RAKEZ facilitates access to professional audits conducted by international experts, ensuring businesses gain valuable insights into optimising their energy consumption.
  • 2. Energy improvement planning: The initiative helps companies formulate energy improvement plans, fostering a culture of efficiency and sustainability.
  • 3. Cross learning platform: RAKEZ has established a cross-learning platform that promotes knowledge transfer among industry peers, suppliers, and customers. This knowledge sharing is instrumental in driving sustainability forward.

The impact of this initiative is noteworthy, with more than 40% of the industrial energy consumption in Ras Al Khaimah represented by participating companies. These include prominent entities such as RAK Ceramics, Stevin Rock, Union Cement, Gulf Cement, RAK Ports, Eternity Technologies, Ashok Leyland, and many more.

RAKEZ COP28 Offer: A sustainable business set-up package

Our dedication to sustainability extends beyond audits and energy efficiency. We are pioneering the way for entrepreneurs by introducing the COP28 Offer. Designed to empower entrepreneurs to create a lasting impact on our planet while building your own sustainable business, the package offers a licence with no fee for 2 years for office set-ups, and a customisable bespoke package for warehouse set-ups, enabling them to contribute to a more sustainable world. This offer unlocks sustainable business opportunities across specific categories including:

  • Waste recycling
  • Tyre rebuilding
  • Renewable energy and green building
  • Energy efficiency and conservation
  • Organic waste processing
  • General scrap and metal trading
  • Green technology and software

Our commitment to sustainability is not just rhetoric; it's a tangible reality. We’ve already begun to integrate sustainability into our operations, through:

  • Buildings efficiency: Several prominent RAKEZ buildings have recorded substantial reductions in electricity and water consumption, translating to notable financial savings.
  • Street lighting: We’ve implemented energy-saving initiatives for street lighting across key areas, leading to significant electricity and cost savings.
  • Additional initiatives: From irrigation network connections to innovative systems for water treatment, we leave no stone unturned in pursuit of sustainability.

As the host of COP28, the UAE is set to experience an upsurge in sustainability initiatives and practices. The industrial sector will likely witness regulatory changes, market opportunities, and increased international collaboration. If you take advantage of this, as an early adopter, you’ll benefit from enhanced competitiveness, greater growth and financing opportunities, and access to global markets.

If you would like more information on how we can help, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at +971 7 204 1111 Or visit our website and we’d be happy to assist.


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Last Updated on 12/29/2019 9:23:05 PM

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