Why bother with environmental accounting?
Mike Paul, marketing manager of Ecometria, talks about the need for environmental accounting.
In the maelstrom of demands facing most business leaders, having to commit time and resources to measure operational impact on the wider environment may not be on top of the list of immediate priorities. But environmental accounting and reporting is about much more than just saving the earth. With a bit of thought and ongoing commitment, there are considerable upsides - and some considerable cost savings to be made.
An obvious benefit of ‘managing carbon’, one of the most common sources of environmentally harmful emissions, is that it often means understanding and reducing key costs, such as energy, logistics, fleets, refrigerant gases and business travel. The familiar mantra reads, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure,” and it is true. If your organisation sets out on an environmental accounting adventure, you will have a much better idea of the areas where changes can be made, with minimal impact on day-to-day operations, but a big boost to your bottom line. It is not just a case of switching to recycled paper and hoping that you are doing some good – it is more like understanding electricity and gas usage, the amount of landfill waste you throw away, and your water consumption. This will identify areas that can be improved and where steps can be taken in a way that has proper, tangible, money-saving results.
A growing number of companies have achieved considerable success by integrating environmental information into their marketing strategies. Most people – whether individual consumers or business decision-makers – would take steps to help the environment if it had little to no impact on their normal routine. But one of the biggest barriers to behaviour change is that word: “change”. No-one likes the bumpy road of change. However, businesses can help to smooth the path by reporting their progress in reducing emissions and firmly integrating this with their marketing and brand strategy. Of course, you have to steer clear of greenwash – changing your branding to imply green credentials that you do not actually have – but there is clearly nothing wrong in reporting the facts and explaining the steps you are taking to make things better.
The role of marketing in tackling the environmental accounting challenge is an important one and successful businesses leverage their advertising and marketing strategy to secure more sales. If consumers have a choice between one of your products and that of a competitor, but your strong environmental record is the differentiating factor, you can bet you are going to make more sales. This is underpinned by hard facts, which confirm corporate social responsibility is an increasingly important factor in the purchasing decisions made by consumers. Organisations can be right there in the mixer, simply by managing environmental impacts and making sure your customers know what you are doing.
The business benefits of environmental accounting are far more than just “saving the earth” – but the effect is that you do it anyway! The business case is clear, the benefits are obvious, and there are now solutions and expertise available to achieve these objectives.
This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Mike Paul .