Chapter 2: Corporate Sustainability in:

Joachim H. Becker, Sven Pastoors, Ulrich Scholz, Rob van Dun

Towards Sustainable Innovation, page 43 - 62

A five step approach to sustainable change

1. Edition 2017, ISBN print: 978-3-8288-3903-8, ISBN online: 978-3-8288-6655-3,

Tectum, Baden-Baden
Bibliographic information
39 chapter 2: corporate sustaInabIlIty Rob van Dun Summary Sustainability in business is not such a new phenomenon as it is believed to be. Arguably, the efforts of becoming more sustainable have had a greater impact last decade or so than in the entire century before it. An increasing amount of companies realize that sustainability is not an obligation, but an opportunity for them to innovate or to be successful. We need to look at the history of sustainability to understand where we come from and where we are heading. Sustainability never was an issue prior to the industrial revolution, after which the first major and polluting companies came into existence. For decades on end, companies were able to completely disregard the environment as they promoted so much economic growth and welfare. Effects of their operations where unclear or simply accepted as a side-effect of industrialization. It took some major ecological crises to raise some awareness amongst inhabitants and governments that the rate at which those companies were polluting the environment was far higher than ever before. In an effort to improve natural conservation and to provide incentives 40 Pastoors · Scholz · Becker · van Dun: Towards Sustainable Innovation for companies to consider the environment, the first environmental laws were passed. Companies had to comply or risk tremendous fines. Some fled to different regions or nations, typically those where environmental laws are far more lenient. As early as the 1960s, consumers were getting involved in the sustainability of companies and they would stop buying products that were unethically sourced or unsustainably produced (Greennovate, 2011). With their reputations at stake, the first companies started policing themselves and corporate social responsibility was born. Fast forward another odd 30 years of tree planting and giving money to charity to end up in 1994 where the first framework for sustainability was introduce (Elkington, 1994). This triple-bottom-line framework forces companies to not only think about one bottomline (profit), but also consider environmental and social performance. By now, all of the world’s biggest companies have adopted this framework in some way, shape or form and continuously consider their triple-bottom-line in decision making. To improve their corporate sustainability, their only decide to go in a certain direction if it has a positive impact on all of the bottom-lines: People, Planet and Profit, the well-known 3Ps of sustainability. Making the environmental and social performance part of the management systems and including key performance indicators in those areas automatically forces managers and employees to try to improve their performance; what you measure is what you get. Sustainable companies set goals for the next period (e.g. 5 or 10 years) and through measuring this along the way, they seek to achieve these in the long-run. Whereas sustainability in the past was a cost, companies nowadays realize they can do well by doing good, which means as much as improving profitability together with improving the People and Planet dimensions of sustainability. This new paradigm for sustainability provides companies with opportunities, rather than posing a threat. 41 Chapter 2: Corporate Sustainability 2.1 an introduction to corporate sustainability Companies, for over the last decades, have been pondering about whether business can really prosper by becoming more sustainable, or whether this is all wishful thinking. Everything we’ve seen has convinced us that business really can lead the way. In order to understand where sustainability in business is heading, it’s important to have a brief overview of sustainability in business for over the last decades. Before we can embark on that journey, we need to get one thing out of the way, the term sustainability itself. The most used definition is that of sustainable development, coming from the Brundtland Report, which reads: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (WCED, 1987, p. 43). A growing number of leading corporations, especially multinationals, are embracing practices associated with sustainable development (Bradbury, 2003). In business terms, this means creating organizations that can sustain financial, human-social, and environmental resources over the long term. This requires attention on a “triple bottom line” (Elkington, 1994) rather than maintaining interest merely in short-term financial health alone. Sustainability does not come across as a set of technical problems to be solved but also as an opportunity for revitalizing businesses in a revitalized economy that exists to serve, rather than exploit, natural and human/social systems. Traditionally, it has been thought that environmental expenditures reduce profitability. However, as early as in 1997, Russo and Fouts already concluded that in general, environmental policies that go beyond compliance result in higher economic performance, moderated by industry growth. The triple-bottom-line framework mentioned above, which will be discussed later in this chapter, is a holistic approach to sustainable business and adopted by many a business all over the world. It proposes that businesses focus not only on one bottom-line, which is 42 Pastoors · Scholz · Becker · van Dun: Towards Sustainable Innovation the traditional focus on fi nancial performance, but on environmental and social performance as well. It assumes that businesses have a level of responsibility to address environmental and social issues pertaining to their environment. Th e companies that do this can be defi ned as green businesses. For the sake of simplicity and clarity, let’s defi ne sustainable business as a business that has a minimal to none-negative eff ect on the environment and communities they operate in, whilst at the same time retaining their profi tability in the long run (Cooney, 2009). Th is is a good journey for business to be on. Aft er all, we invented business to make our lives better, not worse. Looking at the past decades, however, we have to conclude that business was anything but sustainable, except for some far and in between companies doing well by doing good. 2.2 Th e emergence of sustainability in business Figure 1 depicts the journey of sustainable business as will be described throughout this section. Figure 2.1: Th e 5-Stage Sustainability Journey Source: Wallard, 2010. Th e journey starts in the 1800s, at the start of the industrial revolution, back then there was no such thing as sustainability, but resembled more of a war between industry and the environment. Coal was 43 Chapter 2: Corporate Sustainability burned freely with no filters and the air quality in industrial cities already started worsening rapidly. Without any environmental laws, companies were able to release more pollution every single year. It seems that no one seemed to care, as the industrial revolution created so many jobs and with that so much prosperity. Surprisingly, this went on for over a century (Greennovate, 2011). By the middle of the 20th century, the levels of pollution were jaw dropping. An illustrative example of this is when London was London’s Great Smog of 1952. This air-pollution event killed as many as 4000 people in only five days’ time and leaving another 100.000 ill. More recent research even suggests around 12.000 fatalities (Bell et al., 2004). This event, albeit horrible, created the public awareness that was needed so desperately. All over the world, similar events started occurring, which in turn created a lot of momentum for those citizens that had been demanding environmental laws for years then. Politicians in the United States and United Kingdom passed their Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act during the late 50s and early 60s to regulate the worst of the abuses, being a relatively early example of environmental regulation. This period continued well within the 1970s until around 1980 where local governments created command and control-like regulation leaving companies responsible for paying pollution damages. As a result, businesses all over the world started installing very expensive pollution treatment equipment in order to clear their air and water. Companies failing to do so were closed down or given tremendous fines. In economic terms, companies were now forced to internalize their externalities, rather than letting society pay for these. Obviously, those businesses incurred additional costs that they wanted to be kept to a minimum. They would only install so-called “end-of-thepipeline” equipment when being forced to do so, which of course is a very reactive approach. At that point in history, there existed a trade-off between profitability and sustainability where installing sustainable measures meant lowering profitability. Not surprisingly, 44 Pastoors · Scholz · Becker · van Dun: Towards Sustainable Innovation companies only did the very minimum, with some moving their unsustainable production facilities oversees to countries with less strict environmental regimes. Investing large sums in “sustainable innovations”, mostly end-of-the-pipeline solutions, presented a cost that firms would rather not incur. So, the debate continued, with business on one side and environmentalists on the other. Would they always have to choose between profits and sustainability? The governmental regulations helped the environment a little, but it took increasing oil and energy prices to get companies thinking when they figured out they could actually reduce their costs. Following the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, the OPEC decided on an embargo against the US, causing a rise of the global oil price from $3 to $12 a dollar. This oil crisis created an enormous shock to business and the global economy. It was a wake-up call for businesses that starting realizing they could save energy and thus costs by plucking some of the low-hanging fruits. This meant that they had to innovate in terms of process optimization, a strong focus on quality management and taking waste seriously. They set a great example and were soon followed by others that saw an opportunity to increase profitability again as they discovered the benefits or a more active approach. After all, prevention is better than installing end-of-the-pipeline solutions that only added extra costs. They would save money, reduce their risk and simultaneously improve their products. With governments, wary of their producers going overseas and businesses finding new ways to make things work, the 80s and 90s of the previous century were known for its “greening” initiatives (Hart, 2011, p. 23); making manufacturing and production a little more sustainable. Saving money was not the only reason for business. Companies also needed to work on their reputation. If they would help out in local communities, planting trees left and right, treat workers fairly and make cleaner and safer products, sales would probably increase. If they were caught cheating, polluting the environment and using dangerous chemicals within their products, they would lose cus- 45 Chapter 2: Corporate Sustainability tomers. With so many multinationals already producing overseas, all process were hard to oversee, and with developing countries not having stringent environmental laws, those companies had to police themselves. In an effort to coordinate this effectively, large companies set up Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) departments for self-regulation, where they monitored compliance with diverse laws, ethical standards and industry norms. Although companies strived to help out in the communities, saving the planet through tree planting, this was simply not enough. By and large, they continued doing business and usual with this CSR department spending money on charity programs that had a negative effect on their profits, as they were not even breaking even on those costs. MIT Sloan and Boston Consultancy Group reported that over 75% of those companies did not break even on their sustainability investments. As a result, companies refrained from investing in those initiatives. Something needed to happen for sustainability to gain traction. With over 100 years of not doing anything, via end-of-the-pipeline solutions and with CSR initiatives having very little to show for, sustainable development seemed destined for failure. Companies would have to go beyond their greening initiatives that only marginally reduced their footprints, waste and costs. With companies seeing sustainability only as a trade-off, they were not going anywhere. There needed to be a change of paradigm, an approach that would work for them, that would make their shareholders and customers happy. Something that would be beneficial for them… In the meantime, governments kept on passing more stringent environmental laws, Al Gore12 raised public awareness for sustainability with his documentary An Inconvenient Truth and the vast majority of scientists concluded that the climate was already changing for the worse. 12 Al Gore is an American politician and environmentalist who was Vice President under the Bill Clinton administration (1993-2001). Later, he narrowly lost the 2000 presidential election to George W. Bush. In 2007, he received the Nobel Peace Prize, among others for his cooperation to combat climate change. 46 Pastoors · Scholz · Becker · van Dun: Towards Sustainable Innovation 2.3 Moving from obligation to opportunity The paradigm change came when in 1994 John Elkington introduced the triple bottom line, which so many international companies have adopted, enabling them to create business value that goes beyond the traditional single bottom line; profit. Some of the pioneering companies have by now shown that they can “do well by doing good” (Benjamin Franklin). They incorporate sustainability in their everyday decision-making, being a part of their corporate strategies and business models. And by doing this, they create shared value for all of their stakeholders, attract the best employees who would rather work for sustainable companies and they find new customers willing to pay for their sustainable products. Oh, and they reduce their costs through process innovations, zero-tolerance policies towards waste and carefully reviewing their value chains. In doing so, firms take responsibility in achieving sustainable development. After all, bigger firms have the financial, technical, and organizational capabilities to address environmental issues. They can transfer these capabilities, developed partly in response to stringent environmental regulations in some countries, to subsidiaries and suppliers in countries with lower levels of regulation. These capability transfers allow domestic managers and workers to learn about current environmental management principles and technologies, which is likely to lead to spill over effects into the local economy and to benefit other local firms as well. Firms can leverage their existing resources and capabilities in their environmental strategies. Research has shown that a fit between a firm’s existing resources and capabilities and its environmental practices contributes to competitive advantage from environmental strategies (Christmann, 2002, p. 28). What has changed is that since the new millennium, companies have started viewing sustainability not as something they should do for something else (e.g. governments or NGOs) but for themselves. Because it pays off, as so many different studies have shown over the 47 Chapter 2: Corporate Sustainability last decade. The paradigm has changed and companies have moved away from their trade-off mentality which dealt with sustainability as an obligation, but view it as an opportunity to be innovative, reduce costs, have a positive impact on their communities and the environment, attract new customers and improve their profitability. A final step towards sustainability is redefining the purpose of the business along the values held by either the companies’ founders or leadership, focusing on what is important to them. 2.4 The triple bottom line framework As the 2011 Sustainability & Innovation Global Executive Study and Research Project conducted by MIT concluded, sustainability is nowadays firmly on managers’ agendas as sustainability directly impacts profits. Yes, that is right. There is profit to be made by doing well. Not through marketing yourself as being green, but by actively making sustainability part of the decision-making process and corporate strategy. When developing strategies, tactics and solutions to problems, employees and their management will nowadays consider each dimension of the triple bottom line, which consists of People, Planet and Profit (the commonly known 3Ps of sustainability). They are considering the positive and negative impact of the companies’ solutions on the community, environment and financial bottom line. And depending on this cost-benefit analysis, they will decide what to do. The phrase “triple bottom line” (TBL) was first coined by John Elkington in 1994, owner of SustainAbility, a British consultancy firm (Economist, 2009). He argued that companies should prepare three separate bottom lines. The first one is the more traditional measure of profit – basically the bottom line of the profit and loss account. The second is the measurement of the firm’s social responsibility in some way shape or form, in other words its “people account”. The 48 Pastoors · Scholz · Becker · van Dun: Towards Sustainable Innovation third bottom line is that of its “planet account”, a measurement of the firm’s environmental responsibility. The triple bottom line thus consists of three Ps: profit, people and planet. It seeks to measure the financial, social and environmental performance of the corporation over a period of time, almost always equalling a year. In their sustainability reports, firms report on this performance. One of the main principles behind the TBL is that what companies measure is what they seem to get. After all, what they measure is what they are very likely to pay attention to, moving them towards becoming increasingly sustainable organisations. Mentioned in this chapter numerous times already, the triple bottom line is perhaps the most commonly used framework in business to manage, monitor and evaluate performance. That is: Social, Environmental and Economic performance. Although one of the challenges of putting this framework into practice is the measurement of social and ecological performance, the framework enables organizations to take a longer-term perspective and thus evaluate the future consequences of their decisions (Slaper/Hall, 2011, p.  4-8). What the triple bottom line successfully managed to do is shed a different light on what is often believed to be the purpose of business. Milton Friedman, one of the most influential economists in recent history, has always claimed that “the social responsibility of business is to increase its profits” (Friedman, 1970, p. 1). The triple bottom line counteracts this commonly held belief by introducing to other bottom lines that should be of importance to the management. In essence, the purpose of business is no longer to merely focus on shareholder value, but on stakeholder value, which is a wildly different approach. Another influential scholar, Michael Porter now claims that companies should seek to create shared value in order to be successful. According to stakeholder theory, the business should be used as a vehicle for coordinating stakeholder interests, instead of maximizing shareholder profits. 49 Chapter 2: Corporate Sustainability Companies are believed to be sustainably only when they have a positive performance on all of the three bottom lines, rather than focusing on merely one. What successful companies do is taking in consideration what effects or impacts certain strategies, solutions or ideas would have on their triple bottom line and only choose for them when they fulfil all three criteria. In doing so, companies improve their social, environmental and economic performance simultaneously and thus have gone beyond the trade-off mentality in which sustainability was seen merely as a cost, not as something that could be profitable in the long run. Figure 2.2: The triple bottom line framework. 50 Pastoors · Scholz · Becker · van Dun: Towards Sustainable Innovation People The social dimension of the TBL framework requires companies to think about the impact their actions have on all the people (stakeholders) involved with them. This includes everybody’; suppliers, wholesalers, employees, and managers. All throughout their value chains, sustainable companies seek to assure good health care, safe and healthy working conditions, good working hours, opportunities for education and advancement, not exploiting the labour force etc. Typically, it does also include the welfare of the communities the company does business, including those in far-away places overseas. The difficulty here is to draw a line; shall this include the own employees only? Or also their families? Does it include supplying firms’ welfare and the communities around their buildings? What happens if employees need to be laid off to remain competitive? All these questions can be very hard to answer and requires that management discusses this and decides on a strategy, that in their opinion caters to the activities of their organization. The measurement of “People’ refers to the social dimensions of a community or region. It includes variables such as education, equity and access to social resources, health and well-being, and quality of life. The examples listed below are a small snippet of potential variables (Slaper/Hall, 2011, p. 4-8): • Unemployment rate • Female labour force participation rate • Median household income • Relative poverty • Percentage of population with a post-secondary degree or certificate • Average commute time • Violent crimes per capita • Health-adjusted life expectancy 51 Chapter 2: Corporate Sustainability Planet The environmental dimension of the framework requires companies to focus on reducing or even eliminating their ecological footprint. They continuously strive towards sustainability via reducing water usage, waste, energy usage and so on and so on. They realize that although going green might be profitable in the long run, it’s not only about the money. They carefully consider all their processes and practices and seek opportunities to reduce, recycle and reuse materials, energy and water. They might create closed-loop systems and provide their own energy through installing solar panels on their rooftops. This goes beyond optimizing processes and attaining efficiencies, as sustainable companies conduct life-cycle assessments13 in which they find out where in the product’s lifecycle it is most unsustainable and focus on improving this. Next, they will seek to innovate sustainable through the development and marketing of green products or changing their inputs from non-sustainable sources and fossil fuels to renewable energy and resources. Variables that seek to measure the “Planet” dimension should represent measurements of natural resources and reflect potential influences to its viability. It may include aspects such as air and water quality, energy consumption, waste, footprint et cetera. Some of the more specific examples include (Slaper/Hall, 2011, p. 4-8): • Sulphur dioxide concentration • Concentration of nitrogen oxides • Excessive nutrients • Electricity consumption • Fossil fuel consumption • Solid waste management • Hazardous waste management • Change in land use/land cover 13 Life-cycle assessment is a technique to assess environmental impacts associated with all the stages of a product’s life, from raw material extraction through materials processing, manufacture, distribution, use, repair and maintenance, and disposal or recycling. See chapter 14 for more details. 52 Pastoors · Scholz · Becker · van Dun: Towards Sustainable Innovation Profit Whereas the social and environmental dimension might have been relatively new, the financial or economic dimension that seek to measure profit is as old as Methuselah and needs little explanation. Profit is the economic value created by the organization after deducting the cost of all inputs, including the cost of the capital tied up. It therefore differs from traditional accounting definitions of profit. In the original concept, within a sustainability framework, the “profit” aspect needs to be seen as the real economic impact the organization has on its economic environment. This is often confused to be limited to the internal profit made by a company or organization (which nevertheless remains an essential starting point for the computation). Hence, “Profit” variables have to deal with the flow of money. It could look at income or expenditures, taxes, business climate factors, employment, and business diversity factors. Specific examples may include (Slaper/Hall, 2011, p. 4-8): • Personal income • Cost of underemployment • Establishment churn • Establishment sizes • Job growth • Employment distribution by sector Implementing the triple bottom line framework In 1997, Shell was the first-ever company to introduce the triple bottom line in their first annual sustainability report, paving the way for others to following. Nowadays, an ever-growing number of companies are now implementing the triple bottom line framework in an effort to become more sustainable, with many taking the liber- 53 Chapter 2: Corporate Sustainability ty to tailor it specifically to their company, but still sharing the same widely-held belief that the purpose of business is to create value for all stakeholders involved. Choosing what to measure is of great importance when implementing the triple bottom line framework. More experienced companies, such as Henkel, might develop their own focal areas. Others might resort to stick to the 3Ps. Luckily, there is help when defining standards and variables. The Global Reporting Initiative (known as GRI) is an international independent standards organization that helps businesses, governments and other organizations understand and communicate their impacts on issues such as climate change, human rights and corruption (GRI, 2015). They have developed a set of standards that can easily be adopted by companies wanting to become more sustainable and in doing so, they provide transparency and comparability. 2.5 sustainable Innovation: challenges and opportunities With sustainability having gained a lot of momentum over the last years and companies implementing strategies to create corporate sustainability, there are lots of opportunities to innovate sustainably. In their 2009 Harvard Business Review article Nidumolu et al. claim that “sustainability is now the key driver of innovation”. Within this article the authors explain how the need to become sustainable provides numerous opportunities for companies to innovate. In dealing with sustainable firms, they have identified five distinct stages that companies go through in their roadmap to sustainability. Figure 9.1 shows the first four of these stages. But not all companies go through all of these stages or in this order. Nor have they completed all of these stages. Through seizing the innovation opportunities ex- 54 Pastoors · Scholz · Becker · van Dun: Towards Sustainable Innovation plained below, companies can improve their corporate sustainability by improving their performances at the triple bottom line. Figure 2.3: Sustainability Challenges, Competencies, and Opportunities Source: Nidumolu/Prahalad/Rangaswami, 2009, p. 57-64. The sustainable innovation process There is no precise definition for sustainable innovation, reflecting the general difficulty in defining the concepts of sustainability and sustainable development. The innovation consultancy company Arthur D. Little defined “sustainability-driven” innovation as “the creation of new market space, products and services or processes driven by social, environmental or sustainability issues” (Arthur D. Little, 2004). The challenges of a changing environment are a central starting point for long-term company planning. Companies cope with a 55 Chapter 2: Corporate Sustainability changing environment through the consistent application of sustainable innovation processes, continuous customer-orientation and through the constant use of green marketing (see chapter 16). In order to implement more sustainability in companies and organisations, it is necessary that they change and develop further. The process of change, however, does not take place automatically, but must be actively accompanied and pushed by the company’s management. This includes: • the understanding that change is needed; • the vision and will of the top management to change, • the belief of the employees in the implementation of this vision. At the same time, technological, legal and economic conditions must be taken into consideration. • the choice of sales approach through green marketing Being economically successful is an important target for almost all companies, there are only few exceptions. However, it is equally important for companies to act in an ecologically responsible manner and to accept social responsibility. Without sustainable thinking, economic success is hardly realisable in the long run. Therefore, sustainability is an important competitive factor. Ecological aspects, along with economic and ethical responsibility, have become one of the three pillars of success of a company. Most innovative companies are aware of these three columns and strive to implement them successfully. Traditionally, companies were mainly focused on one “bottom-line”, that of profit. Nowadays these three columns form the triple-bottom-line. Thus, companies support social establishments, cultural initiatives and sponsoring programmes. Furthermore, they are committed to target achievement in the framework of social responsibility, in that social standards will not only be checked in their own products but also in the products of the suppliers and partners. In addition to 56 Pastoors · Scholz · Becker · van Dun: Towards Sustainable Innovation their social commitment, successful companies also regard ecological aspects. These include the conscious development of energy efficiency in their own facility management, reduction of CO2 emissions, ecological evaluation of investment and acquisition decisions, or the use of renewable energy. This helps to build-up a strong market image for the long-term, which is necessary to satisfy customer needs in core markets and to adapt to new trends. In order to sustainably secure the continuity of the company, a high level of innovative capability is essential. This also includes efficient process chains as an important criterion for a successful company. During the manufacturing of products and services, companies emphasise highest quality, which is continually checked and improved. Furthermore, companies aspire not only unique innovations, but also continuous product improvements. In order to achieve this, they maintain constant contact with the customers and desire direct feedback about the offer of products and services. From this procedure, companies expect to gain the ability to learn continuously and therefore, aim for a permanent improvement process within the company. The starting point of the change process is the company’s changing macro-environment and the sustainability strategy formed in accordance to that. Training questions: 1. Why were end-of-the-pipeline solutions as described in the first section not popular amongst business? 2. What management practices do sustainable companies engage in that their non-sustainable counterparts do not do systematically? 3. Explain, in your own words, what the triple-bottom-line framework entails. 4. The article “Why sustainability is now a key driver of innovation” describes 5 stages in which companies can innovate. Provide 2 examples of companies for the first for four stages. 57 Chapter 2: Corporate Sustainability Recommended literature: Christmann, Petra/Taylor, Glenn (2002): Globalization and the Environment: Strategies for International Voluntary Environmental Initiatives. The Academy of Management Executive. Vol. 16, No. 3, pp. 121-136 Elkington, John (1997): Cannibals with Forks: The Triple Bottom Line of Twenty-First Century Business, Oxford. Hart, Stuart (2010): Capitalism at the Crossroads: The Unlimited Business Opportunities in Solving the World’s Most Difficult Problems, New York. Keeble, Justin et. al. (2004): Arthur D. Little Innovation High Ground Report, Cambridge. Nidumolu, R./Prahalad, C.K./Rangaswami, M.R. (2009). Why sustainability is now a key driver of innovation, in: Harvard Business Review, 87(9): 57-64. Porter, Michael E. (2011): Creating Shared Value. Harvard Business Review. Vol. 89 Issue 1/2. P. 62-77 Russo, M. V./Fouts, P. A. (1997): A Resource-Based Perspective on Corporate Environmental Performance and Profitability. Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 40, No. 3, p. 534-559. Slaper, Timothy F./Hall, Tanya J. (2011). The Triple Bottom Line: What Is It and How Does It Work? Indiana Business Review. Spring 2011, Volume 86, No. 1. World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED 1987): Our common future, Oxford. 58 Pastoors · Scholz · Becker · van Dun: Towards Sustainable Innovation Internet resources: Henkel (2011). Sustainability strategy 2030. Online: http://www. [Accessed on 25-04- 2016]. Henkel (2012): Lifecycle assessment at Henkel AG. Online: http:// Wallard, Bob (2010). The 5-Stage Sustainability Journey. Sustainability Advantage. Online: http://sustainabilityadvantage. com/2010/07/27/the-5-stage-sustainability-journey [Accessed on 25-04-2016].

Chapter Preview



With sustainability having gained a lot of momentum over the last years and companies implementing strategies to create corporate sustainability, there are lots of opportunities for innovation. Thus, the two concepts of sustainability and innovation should not be considered separately – they are closely interlinked with one another. The main goal of sustainable innovation is to develop new products and technologies that have a positive impact on the company’s triple-bottom-line. To meet this aim, they have to be ecologically and economically beneficial as well as socially balanced.

In order to help companies to improve their sustainable innovation process practically, this book is structured into five possible phases of a sustainable innovation process:

Awareness of a sustainability problem

Identification & Definition of the problem

Ideation & Evaluation of the solutions

Testing & Enrichment of the solutions

Implementation of the solutions & Green Marketing