Sustainability pioneers focus their attention on the preservation of biodiversity. Together with climate change, loss of biodiversity is one of the greatest threats of our time. The term biodiversity refers to the diversity of all the species living in the Earth’s different habitats.
A good understanding of the key concepts and phenomena is crucially important when working to promote biodiversity. What do we really mean when we talk about biodiversity and how can we do our part? Luckily more and more companies have understood that loss of biodiversity is an acute global challenge that each business must tackle.
Compensating for impact on biodiversity
The best way to protect biodiversity is to stop activities that are harmful to the environment. When that is not an option, the next step is to try to minimize the impact on nature. If avoiding or reducing the harmful activities is not possible at all and biodiversity is being compromised, we can try to come up with ways to compensate for the impact of our activities. (Jukka-Pekka Jäppinen, SYKE)
All companies should look at their operations from this perspective. First of all, a company should know whether their business impacts on biodiversity in a negative way. If it does, the first priority should be to adjust the activities. If changes cannot be made, the next best option is to be aware of the operations’ effects and compensate for them.
Responsible business and smart choices
Until now, many challenges that companies face have had to do with ensuring that materials are procured responsibly and transparently. The closer a company’s own value chains are, the easier it is to tackle this challenge. When raw materials are produced locally and the products are manufactured in one’s own factory, as is the case with Fiblon, no extra effort is required. Local production is responsible by nature. The closer your partners are, the simpler it is to monitor them and the real situation.
Nowadays, taking carbon footprints into account is also a natural part of everyday operations. Every company should be aware of its carbon footprint and identify the changes that can be made to reduce environmental impacts. Fiblon has been monitoring its footprint since 2009 and we have already made the major changes required to improve the situation.
On the other hand, many other companies have not even thought about how their operations might affect biodiversity. When choosing products, the number one question is whether the product is needed at all. If the answer is yes, it is time to consider what product would be best suited for the task. There can be several criteria for choosing a product, and ideally one product should match them all.
Airplane tray covers are a good example of how to responsibly choose a product. If a tray cover is deemed necessary, the next step is to define what is expected from the product. Ideally, the product should look beautiful and promote the company’s brand, but it should also be highly absorbent so that any spilled liquids are absorbed immediately. In addition, the cover should stay securely on the tray, so it should be friction-treated. This prevents both the cover and the items on the tray from slipping off. So a good tray cover should be absorbent, friction-treated and beautiful.
Now it’s time to look at different materials. If you want to make an environmentally sustainable choice, favour renewable resources and avoid plastic. Selecting a product is an important task and when the right product is chosen, it fulfils all of your expectations. On the other hand, even a product manufactured responsibly and using environmentally friendly materials is not a good choice if it doesn’t do what it needs to do.
When designing a product, one should also consider the packaging, storage and the product’s circulation speed. Well-designed packaging saves materials and protects the products efficiently. If storing opened packages is difficult, the package size should match the number of products needed at one time. Especially in airplanes, space is very limited and there are strict regulations regarding what can be transported and where. All of these should be considered when choosing a product. This is another situation where a good business partner can help you. If products cycle slowly through a warehouse, their risk of being damaged along the way grows. Well-planned logistics play an important role in selecting a product.
Business can always be done more responsibly
Fiblon wants to help its customers make smart choices. In the autumn, we presented our concept in a biodiversity contest for companies, organized by FIBS. The feedback we got was excellent. According to the feedback, our concept is innovative and the way we use the concept to promote sales and the customer’s brand is advanced. Our goal of increasing awareness affects our customers’ actions and use of natural resources. Smarter choices also reduce the amount of cotton used and increase the amount of FSC certified materials used.
We are thrilled that the panel of judges appreciated our efforts to be more responsible and protect biodiversity. We are used to being pioneers in our field. But when we were writing our first corporate responsibility report in 2009, we had no idea where it would take us. For this, we owe a big thanks to our demanding, international clients!
As a small company we have limited resources and that is why we need a lot of support from our stakeholders. On the other hand, recent years have shown that even a small company can achieve significant improvements in responsibility.
I encourage all small companies to dedicate some time to thinking about corporate responsibility and to implementing the ideas you come up with. Even the greatest plans do not make a company more responsible if they are not implemented in everyday operations.
The writer is a second-generation family entrepreneur who has a passion for corporate responsibility.