When businesses take sustainability seriously, it couldn’t be more meaningful. True business sustainability means more than just selling ‘eco-friendly’ products and reducing emissions. Sustainable businesses operate with purpose, so they have business models that value social and environmental impact as much as financial profit.
Since corporate sustainability has probably never been more important than it is today, we’ve put together this collection of statistics on the latest sustainability trends. They should give you a good idea about the importance of sustainability in business, and offer an insight into how much progress we’ve made so far.
Are companies becoming more sustainable?
- Although 90% of business leaders think sustainability is important, only 60% of companies have a sustainability strategy. – Forbes
- 67% of companies have started using more sustainable materials, such as recycled materials and lower-emitting products. – Deloitte
- 66% are working to increase their energy efficiency. – Deloitte
- 3426 companies globally are working with the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) towards decarbonization; reducing their carbon emissions in line with climate science. – Science Based Targets initiative
- 57% of companies have started using energy-efficient or climate-friendly machinery, technologies, and equipment. – Deloitte
- 57% are also providing employee training on climate change/climate action. – Deloitte
- Over 4500 companies globally have become certified B Corps as of February 2022. (To become certified as a B Corp a company must meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability, and aspire to use the power of markets to solve social and environmental problems).- B Lab
- Almost one-third (30%) of Europe’s largest companies have committed to reaching Net-Zero by 2050. – Accenture
- However, if these companies continue the pace of emissions reduction they achieved between 2010 and 2019, only 9% are likely to meet the 2050 target. – Accenture
- Companies with a net-zero emissions goal reduced emissions by 10% on average over the last decade. – Accenture
- 55% of companies are cutting down on air travel post-pandemic. – Deloitte
- An estimated 90% of companies on the S&P 500 index published a corporate social responsibility (CSR) report in 2019, compared to just 20% in 2011. (The S&P 500 index is an index featuring the 500 leading U.S. publicly-traded companies). – Harvard Business School
- 49% are developing new climate-friendly products or services. – Deloitte
- 46% have begun requiring business partners across their supply chain/value chain to meet specific sustainability criteria. – Deloitte
- 44% are updating/relocating facilities to make them more resistant to climate impacts. – Deloitte
- In a 2022 study of 850 companies worldwide, 80% said they plan to increase their investments in sustainability. – WeWork
- 40% of companies have started incorporating climate considerations into lobbying and political donations. – Deloitte
- 37% are tying senior leader’s compensation to environmental sustainability performance. – Deloitte
- 22.8% of Fortune 500 corporations have engaged with the UN’s SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) framework. But only 0.2% of these corporations have developed methods and tools to assess and evaluate the progress of their actions towards relevant SDGs. – ScienceDirect
Why is sustainability important in business?
Business and the environment are closely connected
- In recent years, global temperatures have consistently been among the hottest on record. (This global rise in surface temperature represents a significant climate risk. It might cause environmental disruptions such as an increase in sea level, a decrease in arctic ice, and a growing number of weather-related catastrophes). – Statista
- In recent decades, as the global population has grown, economies have improved, and demand/production of goods and services has increased, energy demand has soared, along with our collective carbon footprint. The increased combustion of fossil fuels to meet this demand has seen annual global greenhouse gas emissions increase by 50% over the past 30 years. – Statista
- A small number of industrial facilities are responsible for 50% of air pollution-related damage in Europe. – European Environment Agency
- In 2017, it’s estimated that air pollution emitted from large industrial sites in Europe cost society between €277 and €433 billion. – European Environment Agency
- By 2030, business-related greenhouse gas emissions could potentially be cut globally by 3.7bn metric tons of CO2 equivalent a year. This is about 60% of total emission cuts pledged as part of the Paris agreement by NDC (Nationally Determined Contribution). – United Nations
- More than 300 million metric tons of plastic waste is produced each year. The packaging sector accounts for half of this plastic waste production. Textiles is the second-largest contributor. – Statista
- 95% of plastic packaging material value is lost after first use; about $120 billion annually. New Climate Economy
- Two-thirds of the planet’s marine life/ecosystems is under threat from plastic pollution and overfishing. – UN Environment Programme
- Global recorded populations of animals, mammals, birds, fish, amphibians and reptiles have fallen by 68% over the last half-century, representing an extreme loss in biodiversity. And as we’ve talked about previously, biodiversity should matter to companies. – UN Environment Programme
- The primary cause of biodiversity loss is the inefficient production and use of natural resources. – UN Environment Programme
- The extraction and processing of biomass (crops, crop residues, grazed biomass, timber and wild catch of fish) drives over 80% of land-use-related biodiversity loss. -UN Environment Programme
- The world has been losing around 5 million hectares of forest every year since the year 2000. – Our World in Data
- Three-quarters of this deforestation is driven by industrial production of beef, soybeans, palm oil, and paper/wood. – Our World in Data
- Humanity is expected to produce 27 billion tons of municipal solid waste by 2050 – SpringerLink
- 72% of businesses believe climate change presents risks that could significantly impact their operations, revenue, or expenditures. – Harvard Business Review
- More than 90% of CEOs state that sustainability is important to their company’s success. – Stanford Social Innovation Review
Customers care about sustainability issues
- 88% of consumers will be more loyal to a company that supports social or environmental issues. – Forbes
- 85% of respondents surveyed in 2019 said they had made minor, modest, or significant shifts towards being more sustainable in the previous five years. (63% of those respondents fall into the modest to significant category). – Simon-Kucher
- 81% of respondents to that same survey also said they expected to buy more environmentally-friendly products throughout the following five years. – Accenture
- 83% of consumers will always choose a brand with a better sustainability record. – Wunderman Thompson
- 83% of consumers believe it’s important or extremely important for companies to have a positive impact by designing products intended for reuse or recycling. – Accenture
- More than half of consumers would pay more for sustainable products designed to be reused or recycled. – Accenture
- 78% feel that environmental sustainability is important, they like the idea of being sustainable, and they want to live more sustainable lives. – Simon-Kucher
- On average, 70% of purpose-driven shoppers pay an added premium of 35% for sustainable purchases. (57% are willing to change their purchasing habits to help reduce their negative impact on the environment.) – IBM
- 63% of Americans hope businesses will take the lead to drive social and environmental change towards a more sustainable future. – Cone Communications
- 55% of American consumers believe it’s important for companies to take a stand on key social, environmental, and political issues. – Harvard Business School
- 50% of consumers rank sustainability as a ‘top 5 value driver.’ – Simon-Kucher
- 34% of consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable products and services. – Simon-Kucher
- 32% of millennials have significantly changed their behavior and purchasing decisions towards being more sustainable. – Simon-Kucher
- In 2021, 64% of UK-based consumers limited their consumption of single-use plastic. This is a 3% increase compared to 2020. – Deloitte
- 40% of UK consumers that year chose brands and providers with environmentally sustainable practices and values. An increase of 6% compared to 2020. – Deloitte
- 30% opted for low carbon emission and/or shared modes of transport (electric vehicles, public transport etc), an 11% increase compared to 2020. – Deloitte
- 22% of consumers see for-profit companies as the number one actor towards bringing positive environmental change. – Simon-Kucher
- The global market for green technology and sustainable development is expected to grow from $11.2 billion in 2020 to $36.6 billion by 2025. – Reportlinker
How does sustainability benefit a business?
Finances and the bottom line
- A review of academic literature on sustainability initiatives and corporate performance found that from 200 studies, 90% conclude that good ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) standards lower the cost of capital. – Harvard Business Review
- 88% of these studies show that incorporating good ESG practices within a business strategy leads to better operational performance. – Harvard Business Review
- 80% show that stock price performance is positively correlated with sustainable business practices. – Harvard Business Review
- Companies that combine high levels of innovation with ‘sustainability and trust’ outperform their industry peers, with 3.1% higher operating profits and greater returns for shareholders. Companies that excel at innovating alone see a negligible impact on operating performance. – Accenture
- A McKinsey study found a significant correlation between a company’s resource efficiency and the strength of its financial performance. By reducing resource costs, the study found that a company can improve operating profits by up to 60%. – McKinsey
- By improving fuel efficiency by roughly 87% between 2005 and 2014, Walmart was able to avoid 15,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions, and save nearly $11 million in a single year. – Harvard Business Review
- By reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 32%, and water use by 45%, between 2004 and 2013, GE (General Electric) saved $300 million. – Harvard Business Review
Sustainable investing on the rise (sustainable finance)
- In 2021, 74% of institutional investors said they were more likely to divest from companies with poor sustainability performance. – IMD
- 88% of business school students consider learning about social and environmental issues in business a priority, and 67% want to incorporate environmental sustainability into their future jobs. – Stanford Social Innovation Review
- More than 70% of employees at large U.S. companies say they are more likely to choose to work at a company with a strong environmental agenda. – Fast Company
- Nearly 70% of respondents said that if a company had a strong sustainability plan, it would affect their decision to stay with that company long term. – Fast Company
- Nearly 40% said that they’ve chosen a job in the past because the company performed better on sustainability than their alternative options. – Fast Company
- More than a third said that they’ve given more time and effort to a job because of their employer’s sustainability goals. – Fast Company
- In 2020, 83% of UK-based workers felt their employer was not doing enough to be more sustainable and tackle the climate crisis. – Unily
- 63% would like to learn more green skills to become more valuable in the workplace. – Unily
Make your company more sustainable with GreenPerk
As these statistics make quite clear; sustainability has never been more important in business, and in many cases, businesses are not embracing it enough. At TravelPerk, we help our customers reduce their business travel carbon footprint through GreenPerk.
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If your business is on a journey to become as sustainable as possible, with GreenPerk, we’ve got your journeys covered. We’ll help you offset your travel-related emissions as transparently, affordably, and impactfully as possible.