Sustainable Business Model

As long as the world is changing, there will be a need for adaptation.

It doesn’t mean that the strategic work of creating a green business model needs to constantly change, but that flexibility can advantageously be part of the strategy. For example, many companies work with ISO management systems, which precisely include a Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle, and at the organizational level, they develop a structure to support this dynamic process.

A Sustainable Business Model therefore doesn’t need to be reformulated regularly: It can start with a thorough mapping, also known as assessment, of the current framework and conditions and subsequently use the ISO structure for ongoing adaptation.

1.
The stakeholder analysis is used to identify the demands and expectations placed on the company, as well as to focus on the trends and requests that could potentially become tomorrow’s demands and expectations.

Ambitions include voluntary schemes such as The UN Sustainable Development Goals, which the company has committed to and thus obligated itself to. These internal demands should be addressed in the same way as if they were coming from the external environment.

Future demands extend over the longer horizon—there are no direct demands yet. Timely preparation for such demands is an essential part of risk management in the green business plan, leading to the establishment of a monitoring structure.

2.
The screening process of existing data for flows and processes related to environmental impacts cannot be overstated. Experience shows that even though the data exists, it is fragmented and not necessarily in a usable format. Here, risk management comes into play again; the organization needs to be protected from tasks that add to the daily operations and thus have the potential to become a stress factor affecting work environment and employee well-being.
3.

The results of processes 1 and 2 should clearly be able to answer these 2 questions:

“What needs to be measured?”

Environmental impacts are not just CO2 emissions. In addition to the 17 SDG goals, within LCA, organizations work with a range of impact categories. The point here is that it’s practically impossible to optimize one of the categories without affecting some of the others. It doesn’t mean that one should sit back and do nothing—but that decisions should be made on an informed basis, so that any negative consequences don’t come unexpectedly.

“What data do we have available for that?”

Additionally, it’s relevant to have supplementary information about the quality of the data: Is it accurate? Can it be replicated? Does it need to be cleaned? Is the data collection structure suitable for later supporting regular reporting?

4.

4. Although it may sound like a daunting task to assess all the products a company produces, OLCA’s (Organizational Level LCA) methodology is designed to make this process more manageable. We use OLCA to find a more streamlined approach to calculate Scope 3 emissions and account for large amounts of material flow. OLCA will provide many valuable insights to the sustainability team in understanding emissions, but the value of the assessment extends far beyond just the sustainability team.

A baseline isn’t just a tool for comparing future improvements; it’s equally a tool for identifying where the most value can be created by intervening and improving current environmental impacts. Linked to the answer of what needs to be measured, a common thread is created between requirements and efforts.

5.

One of the most important elements of the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle is the communicative part. Is there a process for when results and data are verified, so they can be communicated to stakeholders, employees, and the public? A verification process is the simplest and strongest way to address this challenge.