The Importance of Sustainability
“Sustainability” in its broadest sense is the capacity to endure, to maintain a process or situation over time. In ecology, a sustainable system is a system whose biodiversity and productivity are preserved over time. Long-lived and healthy wetlands and forests are examples of sustainable biological systems.
Sustainability can be explored and managed in various references of time and space and within different contexts of environmental, social and economic order. These contexts include the carrying capacity of planet Earth, sustainability of economic sectors, ecosystems, countries, municipalities, neighborhoods, home gardens, private life, goods and services, occupations, lifestyles, behavior patterns and so on.
In fact, this domain involves human and biological activity as a whole and in detail.
At the 2005 World Summit on Social Development, it was noted that this requires the reconciliation of environmental, social equity and economic demands – the “three pillars” of sustainability. The UN definition is not universally accepted and has won various interpretations. The meaning of sustainability, what its goals should be, and how they should be achieved – these are all open to interpretation.
Historically, there has always been a tight connection between economic growth and environmental degradation: When communities develop, the environment is crippled. Economics, which is not viable, is sometimes likened to malignant cancer because it eliminates the ecosystem services of our planet, the same systems that constitute the economy’s “habitat”.
Growing concern has been voiced in recent years that unless over-consumption of resources is stopped, modern civilization will collapse just like ancient civilizations that didn’t apply sustainable use of their resources.
So yes, commercial companies are, of course, among the users of natural resources. From this understanding, many business leaders have embraced the concept of sustainability over the past decade, as a key part in their business strategy. Beyond the profit-making goal of every company, it became clear how important it is to develop methods that minimize as much as possible the damage caused to the environment in particular, and run businesses in a manner that considers social and economic effects in general.
The prevailing approach nowadays is that in order to preserve global resources for future generations – an underlying concept of “sustainability” – business companies must assume an important role in the process. An entire system is working to provide consumers with extensive and accurate information about the nutrients, enabling them to make informed, healthy nutritional choices, and equipping them with options to dispose of waste with minimal impact on the environment.
We are always proud to watch our international business partners and learn from them, even within these contexts of sustainability. For example, PepsiCo’s sustainability was defined as consisting of human, environmental and knowledge sustainability, along with responsible, sustainable origins of raw materials.
Among the components of human sustainability are product quality and health, customer satisfaction, responsible marketing and nutritional labeling. PepsiCo emphasizes its policy about partnerships and community relations regarding all sustainability issues.
Another one of our partners, Danone, outlines its concept of sustainability through the six phases of product manufacturing: raw materials, mass production, conveyance, sales, consumption and the end of the product life cycle. For each of these phases Danone defines key economic, social and environmental issues.
Among the components of environmental sustainability are issues of water, waste, packaging, climate change and agriculture. Among the components of sustainable knowledge are organizational development and learning, health and safety, human rights and diversity and inclusion.
As part of Danone’s policy about responsible, sustainable food sources, they apply a code of ethics for suppliers, authorization of sustainable farmers, and regional development.
What about us?
Strauss Group invests numerous resources and efforts in corporate responsibility and sustainability, defining them as an integral component of its business strategy. Across the company, professionals are implementing diverse work practices that aim to create management of sustainable business operations.
With respect to environmental quality, we are currently defining new, multiple-year environmental goals, having achieved the goals set for 2009 earlier than expected. Regarding the water issue, we highlighted the importance and significance of the fact that we, a leading food company operating in Israel, should save water. We undertook to carry out water-saving processes, recycling of water and quality treatment of wastewater that once treated is used in agricultural irrigation.
Regarding the packaging of our products, for example, we undertook to examine environmental aspects when developing a new product pack, reduce their weight, change the type of packaging materials in accordance with the recycling and recovery infrastructure in Israel, and constantly explore advanced technologies.
Our multiple-year goals, like those of leading food companies, focus on reducing the carbon footprint (affected by greenhouse gas emissions), reducing water consumption, reducing the amount of waste produced by the company while increasing recycling, and reducing the weight of packaging materials used to pack our products.
Unlike the goals in 2009, which were defined “top-down”, the environmental goals, to be ratified in the second half of 2013, will be defined together with all company sites, which, in turn, will take local responsibility for them. The goal for Strauss Israel will derive from the newly-defined goals in all company sites.
We believe that as a leading food company, we must use natural resources responsibly, enabling future generations to benefit from them as well.