Posted 30 August 2011, by Anonymous (The Herald (Government of Zimbabwe)), AllAfrica, allafrica.com
I seek to put the green concept to task, with a view to question whether our business sector has correctly conceptualised what going green means. In more general terms going green is a sustainability concept.
It means to realise man’s innate connection to nature which causes us to live and interact with nature in a way that does not harm the natural integrity of the biosphere-the province of all living and non-living organisms.
In other words it is the consciousness of the mother fetus relationship between man and mother earth. Green business is sustainable business. It is when an enterprise operates its business in a way that has no negative impact on the global or local environment, community, society, or economy.
Often, sustainable businesses have progressive environmental and human rights policies attached there of.
In light of this Cooney (2009) notes that business is described as green if it matches the following four criteria:
- It incorporates principles of sustainability into each of its business decisions.
- It supplies environmentally friendly products or services that replace demand for non-green products and or services.
- It is greener than traditional competition.
- It has made an enduring commitment to environmental principles in its business operations.
Cooney implies that green business is when any organisation participates in environmentally friendly or green activities to ensure that all processes, products, and manufacturing activities adequately address current environmental concerns while maintaining a profit. Anderson (2006) in his typology
“The critical importance of sustainability risk management and the United Nations General Assembly (1987)’s Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future notes that, when a business meets the needs of the present world without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs, it constitutes what is green business.” Rennie (2008) in his article entitled “Growing Green, Boosting the bottom line with sustainable business practices”, argues that green business is a process and not an event.
It involves the process of assessing how to design products that will take advantage of the current environmental situation and how well a company’s products perform with renewable resources.
Every business affects the sustainability of the marketplace and the planet in some way, as such integrating the greening concept within a business can create value for customers, investors, and the environment.
A green business meets customer needs while, at the same time, treating the environment well (Hawken; Lovins and Lovins, 1999). Becker (2008) notes that a major initiative of sustainable businesses is to eliminate or decrease the impact made on the environment by harmful chemicals, materials, and waste generated by processes to manufacture products and services.
The impact of such human activities in terms of the amount of greenhouse gases produced can be measured in units of carbon dioxide and is referred to as the carbon footprint. The carbon footprint concept branched off from ecological footprint analysis, which examines the ecological capacity required to support the consumption of products (Hawken; Lovins and Lovins, 1999).
It means cutting on emissions, using 100 percent renewable energy, and zero carbon footprint. Now, in line of these green parameters how many companies in Zimbabwe have taken the lead to offer a commitment to cut on emissions by at least ten percent? Going green means a business entity undertakes efforts that exceed energy efficiency and waste regulations in manufacturing operations, as well as shifting to renewable resources for product and packaging materials.
The Zimbabwean industry is still in its infancy as regards going green. The market is evolving. One of the most common examples of sustainable business initiatives is the act of going paperless. To what extent is Zimbabwean business going in this direction.
Penfield (2008) in his article entitled “Generating for the Environment, drive down costs while helping Mother Nature”, notes that inputs costs must be considered in regards to regulations, energy use, storage, and disposal.
A business’ green initiatives can include conserving materials through re-manufacturing, converting harmful gases into clean energy, generating greener power, and improving fuel economy.
Be that as it may, does going green mean the same in Zimbabwean business vocabulary? What drives this inquiry is that many businesses are the major polluters.
Economic thinking on the other hand has proven that businesses are driven by the profit motive with which they optimise through opportunity cost and tend to generate more negative externalities on the environment.
Aren’t our businesses now playing second fiddle? To what extent are they embracing green technologies? Are they now producing recyclable or biodegradable products? Are they reducing on their carbon footprint (damage) and likewise how much has been their handprint (amount of care) on the environment?
The city of Harare is currently going green by planting trees along street pavements and if I may ask how many companies has come along for partnerships?
It is this background that raises the need to thank our business sector if they are really sincere on going green and in the same way question their current clamour for going green. Proclaiming going green is good, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating.