Irrespective of the many disagreements that exist in relation to the green movement, many large international marketers have realized that sustainable practices can make good business sense. Reduced emissions are often directly related to lower fuel costs and increased operational efficiency. Leading global companies are seeing strategic value in making sustainability a corporate imperative. A 2011 McKinsey survey of companies found that a handful of companies are capturing significant value by systematically pursuing the opportunities sustainability offers. We believe the trend is clear: more businesses will have to take a long-term strategic view of sustainability and build it into the key value creation levers that drive returns on capital, growth and risk management as well as the key organizational elements that support the levers. Each company’s path to capturing value from sustainability will be unique, but these underlying elements can serve as a universal point from which to get started.
Green practices will become increasingly important as society expects more. The Coca Cola Company provides a good example of the sustainability practices of leading international marketers. Coca Cola identified its priority areas for improving sustainability as water stewardship, energy efficiency and climate protection, sustainable packaging, and healthy communities. One can see how these areas are important to the company and the communities it serves by envisioning the amount of water and agricultural products used in Coca Cola products; the energy usage and climate impact involved in bottling, refrigerating, and distributing its products; and the relationship of its products to the health and wellness of its customers. Water stewardship is particularly important to the company because Coca Cola uses massive amounts of water in its products and operations. Water is vital to its long-term success as a company. It has been challenged over its water usage practices in some parts of the world. In response, Coca Cola believes that, while it may be successful in securing the legal rights to securing water rights, it must seek a “social license” as well: For us to do business—and to be part of the solutions addressing water stress—it is essential to secure the trust and goodwill of the people in the communities where we are located. And that can only come from candid, continual dialogue -an ongoing conversation in which we show residents how much water we are using and how we are using it. It comes from telling residents how we are managing water resources and what we are doing to improve them. And it comes from helping to address residents’ specific concerns about water.