4 Tips for Businesses to Tackle Sustainability

small business owner with laptop and phone

Climate change is the crisis of our time. The concern is pervasive.

People are working to effect change, and one of the most common methods is through shopping behavior. Consumers, especially Gen Z, say they will pay more for sustainably made products. Additionally, according to a report from Avery Dennison, $163 billion of stock is discarded annually. For smaller, more agile companies adopting new business models, these trends can offer a significant opportunity.

4 Tips to Get Started With Sustainability

Here are four examples of tips and best practices for companies to create a foundation for sustainability.

1. Capture Value From Waste

Bring waste back into the value stream by repurposing or recycling it. By doing so, you can help reduce the new resources needed to create products.

Recommerce, the practice of selling previously owned items for reuse, repurposing, or recycling, is growing rapidly, especially in apparel. But the opportunity is a lot broader than merely selling lightly used high-fashion goods. Think about ways to refurbish or transform items, from returned electronics to discarded furniture or fabrics, into new, desirable products.

2. Rethink Materials

Work to ensure that more materials are recyclable, reusable, or biodegradable.

For example, there are cornstarch, wood pulp, and seaweed alternatives to single-use plastic. Businesses are also considering packaging that can be used again by the consumer. For example, use a glass container instead of plastic for food, or fold an apparel item and tie it off with a stylish ribbon. Even without alternative materials, there are sustainability practices you can use, such as rightsizing polybags, for example. Defining the minimum and maximum margins between the product and the protective packaging can determine the optimal package size. Doing so could help save a great deal of material, minimize waste, and reduce cost.

3. Examine Sourcing

Consider local sourcing options to help reduce supply chain bottlenecks and decrease the time, distance, and resources consumed in product travel.

After researching industry benchmarks, establish a framework for vetting suppliers. Search for those who are open and collaborative and who can substantiate claims, such as those with certifications from credible sources.

4. Ensure Transparency

Employ technologies and tools that help you and your trading partners share data and collaborate more effectively. Several GS1 US Solution Partners specialize in enabling transparency through blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT), and cloud technology.

Doing so can help trace product movements and establish the origin of raw materials. It can also empower you to share your sustainability and brand story with consumers through use of 2D barcodes, like QR codes, on your products.

consumer scanning product

Get Started With Sustainability With UPC Barcodes

Barcodes from GS1 US provide an authentic way to uniquely identify your products and locations in the supply chain and in e-commerce.

How Can GS1 US Help?

Achieving a sustainable supply chain requires collaboration among trading partners to track and easily share information about products, from the origin of materials through consumption and beyond. This means identifying your products and locations with authentic GS1 identification numbers in the very early stages of your business launch to assist with product traceability.

Identifiers such as Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs), which are encoded into UPC barcodes and used across the supply chain, are a key part of the GS1 System of Standards. These global standards help businesses capture data about what happened to products and where, and enabling them to share that information seamlessly with the right people. When everyone is using the same standards, end-to-end visibility becomes possible. You are then equipped with the data you need to build on sustainability initiatives with an understanding of the impact.

From environmental impact and sustainable packaging, to resale on secondary markets and waste mitigation, GS1 Standards can help supply- and demand-side trading partners in every industry increase efficiency, reduce waste, and secure precious resources for the future. GS1 US and GS1 Standards power consumer confidence and can help put a small business on the path to achieving sustainable growth.

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