Sustainability is a global issue, but ecosystems, economies and other factors vary from place to place. While trends that prove successful in one area will likely eventually spread to others, different regions may be at different places at different times.
In this post, we’ll focus on Europe. What trends are taking hold there? And which will spread to the Middle East?
Sustainability Driving Revenue Growth
While sustainability was at first often seen as a corporate responsibility and PR move, today it’s an integral part of business plans. It serves as a major competitive advantage and drives increases in revenue. In a recent survey, 56 percent of executives said that sustainability is leading to revenue growth for their company.
Sustainable products attracts more customers and can lead to reduced expenses through savings on energy, packaging and other commodities.
Focus on Customer Behavior
After years of focusing on their supply chains, companies in Europe are now taking their sustainability efforts further by focusing on their customers. Businesses are realizing that if they want to reduce their footprint, they need to involve their customers.
This has led to various customer outreach initiatives such as Sainsbury’s Waste Less, Save More campaign, which aims to reduce food waste.
Resources the Environment Provides
Continuing the trend of focusing on the smaller stuff rather than the big picture, language around climate change is shifting from saving the planet to protecting ecosystems. Europe is also putting more of an emphasis the resources we lose out, such as clean water and timber, on when we damage our environment.
While climate change impacts both the smaller parts of the environment and the environment as a whole, this way of talking about the issue can make it feel a bit closer to home. This helps inspire people to take action because rather than seeming far-off and ambiguous, it’s specific and communicates the direct impacts that environmental damage can cause.
Solar and wind energy have had the renewable energy spotlight for some time. Now, other renewable resources such as geothermal and biomass energy, are having their turn at bat. Solar and wind still play a huge and ever-expanding role, of course, but energy companies, government and individuals are starting to explore other options as well.
The role of smart technology is continuing expand in Europe, as it is elsewhere. More and more devices are now equipped with sensors and internet connectivity, enabling them to collect data and share it with other devices. Artificial intelligence can then help derive useful insights from this information.
Smart cities run on renewable energy, microgrids and energy efficiency. Internet of Things technology can help grid operators to better understand energy demand, making it easier to match production to consumption and distribute energy optimally. Smart buildings and appliances also play a role in using energy more efficiently. Many of these buildings are also equipped with solar panels.
Protecting the oceans is expected to be a major focus in 2018. Biodegradable alternatives to plastic will likely become more common, and we’ll see fewer disposable plastic products. The use of natural ingredients will become even more prominent.
Some of the new consumer outreach campaigns from companies will focus on their recycling efforts, their reduced use of plastic and how customers can properly dispose of or recycle packaging and products.
More emphasis will also be placed on recycling plastics and using products made from recycled plastics, especially recycled ocean plastics. Almost half of consumers in the UK say they have an interest in purchasing fashion items made with recycled plastic.
These six trends are expected to be among the biggest sustainability trends in Europe this year. Which do you think will spread to Middle East, and which will remain for the most part in Europe?