Expert cites benefits of going green for business

Companies are encouraged to “go green” to increase profits and seize business opportunities during the coronavirus crisis.

“If we are in times of crisis, we really need to cut our operational expenses to a level where we can sustain. No point in us going out of business, we really need to be very, very tight,” Matthias Gelber, an advocate for green sustainability, said in a webinar.

Gelber said cutting down on operational expenditures involves understanding electricity bills, either in factories, workplaces, or even at homes.

He cited as an example a hotel using hundreds of light bulbs and by calculating, its power consumption was about a quarter of a million pesos per year just by running these light bulbs.

“…So replacing those light bulbs would only cost P53,000. You can recover that money already in 2.5 months after that, you are making profits from the switch,” he added. “Maybe in your factory, simply installing a coating on the roof can massively reduce the temperature and the heat that comes into your factory.”

Gelber said firms may also calculate the amount of money they spent on buying the raw materials, running the machines, and paying for the electricity and labor.

“Are you sure your waste is cheap? There is a lot of hidden cost in manufacturing waste. If you have a lot of waste at the end of the production line, you are not efficient. Try to become more efficient in your manufacturing process,” he said.

Gelber, also director of Sustainability at GSX Exchange and Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) advisor for the Philippines Stock Exchange, added that some firms have changed their packaging after doing full cost accounting and identifying the “hidden money” in the waste.

“So less is more. Eco-innovation should be about you looking at your manufacturing processes, you can innovate your products and your packaging,” he said. “The less packaging you have, the less weight you have when you are shipping your product overseas.”

Meanwhile, Gerber also advised entrepreneurs to increase domestic sales where the “biggest opportunity” lies at this time of crisis while enhancing online sales.

“Actually, the consumers are starting to say we want local products, we want to support the local economy. This is a global trend that we are seeing at the moment,” he said.

“I personally believe that in a time of crisis, in addition to still keeping the exports channel open, (you) need to massively ramp up the domestic sales and look for those kinds of sweet spots where we could potentially find opportunities,” he added.

Gerber further said going online is a “big strategic opportunity” under the new normal when people find most things on the internet.

“You need to get yourself a great online presence and you need to tell a story to create a loyal tribe. If you don’t have a loyal tribe that continuously contributes to your sales, and you have to again and again create a new sale every time, that’s gonna be hard work,” he said.

“My recommendation is conduct some webinars to create that loyal tribe so you have continuous people domestically and overseas that order from you because they love your brand, they love your story, they connect with what you do as a company,” he added.

Gerber said entrepreneurs can create a local customer base within the barangay first, and then within the province.

“If you have that strong customer base, then you can weather the storm, and you expand your export without being dependent on your export,” he said.

Gerber further underscored the importance of technology in opening up additional export markets and creating products with higher margin.

“So that even if you are in a crisis, you have enough buffer to survive and sometimes, we need higher-end products with good branding. So branding I think as well is very, very important for the overall customer base especially if you are starting off, how can you create a nice brand that creates a following? What is your brand identity, what do you stand for, what can people expect from you? The whole branding thing I think is very, very important for you to stand out internationally and to create a loyal following,” he added.

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