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Why and how are FMCG businesses focusing on sustainability?

26th February 2024

In today’s business landscape, sustainability has become a core principle guiding operations across various industries, including the FMCG sector. Having 3 categories, Economic, Environmental and Social or as I like to call them Profit, Planet and People. Manufacturers and retailers alike are increasingly recognising the necessity to address these challenges while meeting the consumer demand for eco-conscious products. It’s a topic close to my heart and I wanted to explore some of the practices that businesses are exploring.

The FMCG sector, by its very nature, has a significant environmental footprint due to the production, packaging, and distribution of goods. Recognising this impact, companies are increasingly embracing sustainability initiatives to mitigate their environmental footprint, reduce waste, and conserve resources. Consumer preferences are shifting towards brands that demonstrate a commitment to sustainability, driving companies to integrate eco-friendly practices into their operations.

Some of the ways companies are focusing on sustainability.

  • Packaging: Utilising eco-friendly packaging and reducing the use of single-use plastics is a top priority for many across the industry. Companies are investing in packaging innovation to develop sustainable alternatives that prioritise recyclability, biodegradability, and reduced material usage. An area I am particularly passionate about is minimalist packaging, especially in fresh produce a category by nature already has its own packaging. This is quickly gaining traction.
  • Supply Chain: Implementing sustainable sourcing practices for raw materials is essential. This includes ensuring ethical treatment of workers and assessing the environmental impact of sourcing methods. Businesses need to really ask themselves and deep dive into the question – are we having a negative effect on the environment?
  • Energy Optimisation: Embracing renewable energies to lower the carbon footprint of products and operations. This includes using renewable energy sources for manufacturing processes and transitioning to electric vehicles for distribution.
  • Zero Waste Initiatives: Like promoting “Wonky veg” highlight creative solutions for reducing waste and minimising environmental impact while feeding an increased economic boost providing a cheaper alternative to the consumer.

Sustainability - renewable energy

How can companies be more sustainable? Where do they even start?!

I believe companies can start their sustainability journey from the ground up. Educating their employees and investing in local initiatives to boost community engagement. Following this, businesses can then focus on research and development for sustainable products and packaging, invest in energy efficiency technology and invest in carbon offsetting initiatives.

Supply chain sustainability is of increasing importance to both businesses and consumers, and encompasses environmental, ethical, and social considerations. Factors such as fair treatment of workers and assessing the suitability of land for production are key considerations that cannot be ignored. Sustainability in the supply chain is essential for ensuring long-term success and positive societal impact.

Sustainability is no longer an option, but a necessity for FMCG companies.

By prioritising eco-friendly practices, reducing waste, and embracing sustainable innovations, FMCG brands can not only meet consumer expectations and increase their brand reputation but also contribute positively to the planet and society. As the industry continues to evolve, sustainability will remain a driving force for innovation, growth, and success.

Seven are experts in FMCG, consumer and retail recruitment.

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