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2 Ways to Tie Your Sustainability Path to a Broader Movement

Image Credit: Karsten Würth

Sustainability matters, but why does it matter to your business?

The vinyl industry began our sustainability journey with the recognition that meeting the needs of a fast-growing population will demand much more of the earth’s natural resources, and we wanted to be prepared to address this challenge. As a result, doing more with less is essential to the way we manufacture and market our products.

Of course, there is also an economic imperative. Our planet is facing natural resource depletion; land-management challenges; clean water, food and climate change effects — all of which impact not only our quality of life but the market segments in which we do business.

Every business, including yours, also faces these challenges.

If you’re looking to launch a corporate sustainability initiative, you might be wrestling with how to convince your CEO or board of directors to get on board. Here are two ways to frame the conversation and align your business with the larger global movement toward a more sustainable world.

There’s a financial imperative for sustainability.

A growing number of global stock exchanges have environmental, social and governance disclosure (ESG) rules on the books. In addition, at least two dozen more are looking to add either disclosure rules or publish company disclosure guidance. In other words, reporting on sustainability is no longer optional.

Where sustainability reporting was once considered a competitive advantage, it’s rapidly becoming just part of how companies do business. And it is information that investors are looking for, whether you’re a publicly traded company or a private enterprise.

Moreover, sustainability reporting is not the same as reporting on corporate social responsibility (CSR). While CSR is a part of the equation (i.e., what do we stand for regarding environmental impacts, resilience and more?), a sustainability report addresses the nitty-gritty of how your business is going to achieve meaningful and measurable sustainability goals. Which brings me to the second major way to align your efforts with the global community.

Let the Sustainable Development Goals be your guidepost.

In 2015, the United Nations established 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are designed to “shift the world onto a sustainable and resilient path.” The goals include such elements as water use, land use, protecting ocean ecosystems, quality education, sustainable cities, and more. Each goal includes a number of sub-targets which are designed to help companies and industries measure their progress in contributing to these goals.

As a company, and even as an industry, you can’t do everything. It’s impossible to drill down enough in every area and report measurable progress. As a result, organizations often select one or two SDGs that reflect “what sustainability means for us.”

Sponsored by
The Vinyl Institute.

For example, the vinyl industry is looking to select a couple of SDGs where we believe we can have a substantial impact. As we move closer to picking the most relevant Goals for us to focus on, we’ll be guided by the results of our materiality assessment. That research, in turn, will help us identify the hotspots on which our industry should focus first — and the areas where we can make progress on sustainability and do our part as good corporate citizens and stewards of our planet.

The challenges presented by climate change and the risk they pose to business, in both financial and reputational terms, can no longer be ignored. Taking action is imperative, but change won’t happen overnight. However, by establishing a strong foundation from the outset — one built on transparency and environmental and social sustainability goals that align with core business activities — your company will enable itself to enact meaningful, long-term changes that will futureproof your business while creating a more sustainable world.


Cristian Barcan leads the Vinyl Institute’s overall campaign to advance the vinyl industry’s sustainability commitment and progress, and builds positive relationships with key influencers. Cristian has over two decades experience in the chemical industry, working for BASF and UL in… [Read more about Cristian Barcan]


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