UK businesses could make £100 billion ($152 billion) in annual productivity gains by developing and adopting five areas of innovation designed to address social and environmental challenges, according to a report released by Accenture, retailer Marks & Spencer and charity Business in the Community.
The report, Fortune Favors the Brave, says the market for these five opportunities, which includes the adoption of resource efficiency and clean technology, is already worth almost £200 billion annually ($303 billion) in the UK. The report is based on research by Accenture and discussions with CEOs from major companies including Kingfisher, BT Group, Jaguar and Land Rover.
Business leaders who want to access that rapidly growing market and make productivity gains will have to move beyond conventional corporate social responsibility programs, sustainability reporting and philanthropy. Instead, companies will need to place sustainability at the heart of their business strategies and operations, the report says.
The report suggests scaling innovation in resource efficiency, the circular economy, new consumption models, shared value approaches and transparency and customer engagement can improve competitiveness, grow revenues and better address changing customer needs.
For instance, companies could generate estimated cost savings of between £3 billion ($4.56 billion) and £29 billion ($44 billion) through ‘shared value’ models, in which they support the communities where they conduct business to create a more active and engaged workforce and reduce recruitment and retention costs, according to the Accenture report.
Companies also could save £61 billion ($92.7 billion) each year through more rapid adoption of resource efficiency and deployment of clean technologies, the report says. For example, Marks & Spencer reduced its clothing delivery vehicle fleet by 25 percent and improved fuel efficiency by 30 percent through enhanced resource efficiency.
The UK retailer has made a number of ambitious sustainability targets, one of which it recently beat. Last month, the company announced it surpassed its goal that 25 percent of its M&S Food turnover be produced in factories sending zero waste to landfill by 2015. By the end of last year, 84 suppliers — accounting for 32 percent of M&S Food turnover — had sent no waste to landfill, according to the company’s 2013 Plan A sustainability report.