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Panel: 2013 a Breakthrough Year for Company Sustainability

Companies will continue to make breakthroughs in sustainability in 2013, including collaborating on environmental goals, finding new ways to bring innovation into operations and developing net positive plans, according to predictions by World Wildlife Fund UK’s Dax Lovegrove and the Guardian Sustainable Business advisory panel.

As companies increasingly understand the need for a green economy, ambitions in the private sector will become bolder, Lovegrove said (via the Guardian). Here are three areas where Lovegrove predicts companies will make breakthroughs next year.

Net Positive Plans

Companies are increasingly moving from a do-less-harm strategy to doing good; and it’s a trend that’s likely to continue, Lovegrove said.

Ikea, for instance, announced plans in October to become energy and resource independent by 2020, a move that includes constructing $2.4 billion of wind and solar projects. The company says it will sell only LED lamps and bulbs by 2016.

Meanwhile, PepsiCo has made its own net positive moves in the past few years. The company’s manufacturing operations in India used 5.8 billion liters of water in 2010, reported the Guardian. However, the company helped recharge 10.1 billion liters, which added 4.3 billion liters of surplus water.

Collective Goals

Companies came together in 2012 to tackle global issues. For instance, the Coca-Cola Company, Dow Chemical and Duke Energy were among 24 major companies that agreed during the United Nations’ Rio+ Earth Summit in June to develop a methodology to assign value to the world’s forests, freshwater and marine systems. This week, the US Postal Service and UPS announced a partnership aimed at cutting costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Lovegrove predicts more collaboration in 2013, especially on water-related issues.

There has already been movement from companies in 2012 to deal with water resource and efficiency challenges. For example, CEOs from The Coca-Cola Company, Pepsico, Levi Strauss & Co., Royal Dutch Shell, Unilever and 40 other international companies agreed during the Rio+ Earth Summit to set targets on their own water efficiency and wastewater management in factories and operations and have called on governments to make global water security a top priority.

Innovation

Lovegrove predicts more companies will seek out ways to bring innovation to their business by looking across business models, value chains and whole business ecosystems.

Companies that have pursued innovation include those profiled in the WWF’s Green Game-Changers report, which was produced by Verdantix and published earlier this month. Hertz, Phillips, Kingfisher, DONG Energy, BASF and PepsiCo are among the large companies moving toward more sustainable business models and reaping economic rewards, according to the report, which shows businesses can grow — and create new markets — while generating net-positive environmental impacts, WWF said.

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