Executives of local companies said their organizations are incorporating more responsible and ethical business practices, perceiving it not just as the path to improve competitiveness but also to help create a sustainable future for the Philippines.
Anna Lagon, co-CEO and chief creative director of fashion brand Bayo, said in a recent online panel discussion that their group is guided in their transition to sustainable business by the Journey to Zero initiative, the organization’s “circular pathway to a more sustainable and equitable future” through such goals as zero carbon emissions, zero waste, and circularity.
Sustainability efforts of the Bayo group have led to the reduction of production waste from 35% to just 5%, said Lagon. Among other actions, the company is engaging in procurement of raw materials and local farming including sericulture, hand-weaving, and scaling of natural dyeing processes to minimize the firm’s environmental impact. It is also exploring and developing the use of “bakong,” a native plant that grows in abundance, as a locally sourced natural material.
Meanwhile, Pete Delantar, president and COO of Nature’s Legacy, a B Corporation- certified sustainable manufacturer of home decor, furnishing and architectural components, said in the same webinar that a consistent mindset and leadership by example are key ingredients to inspire employees to adopt circularity and conservation, not just in the office but in their homes and communities as well.
“You cannot be practicing green in the factory but you are not practicing green at home…. It has to be a holistic approach,” he said.
As a Certified B Corporation, Nature’s Legacy is a company that meets the highest standards of social and environmental impact.
Delantar said that the company also snagged Cradle to Cradle certification in two areas—for material health (platinum level) and product program (gold).
He advises companies that want to enhance their ethical business practices to learn to exert control over waste and minimize their carbon footprint.
He added that for his company’s purchases, “we always have a bill of materials, (which) is the exact requirement that products use. We don’t issue materials for our manufacturing processes that are not pre-cut, pre-weighed, and pre-processed.”
As for packaging, the excess is used for small products. The entrepreneur and inventor said that they went on to create small products to complement the big ones to be able to make use of excess packaging.
Moreover, company employees reside in a housing complex close to the factory so they just walk to work, which cuts down their carbon footprint, Delantar said.
He also recommends cultivating a mindset among the staff and their families of not consuming more than what is needed. “Once this mindset is absorbed by the people around you, this cascades to their neighborhood, to their family, so it’s not difficult anymore to convince them that green is the way to go.”
Meanwhile, architect Christopher de la Cruz, CEO of the Philippine Green Building Council, said that while sustainability can come at a cost, innovation is a strategy to lower it. He shared how one firm utilized used pine wood packaging material to make bicycle racks for its employees, who were encouraged to come to work on their bikes.
By upcycling the used packaging, savings in material costs were realized.
High cost can even inspire new ideas and innovation, De la Cruz said. “If you’re a good designer (and) I give you packaging material, you can come up with good bicycle parking.”
Delantar, for his part, said that being in control of materials, processes and labor is crucial. “Once you lose track of things, costs go (up).”
All three panelists also underscored the growing importance of certification. Lagon said certification “will help you become more aware of the sustainable journey that you need to walk on and really persevere because getting certification will itemize all the support you will need to pass the certification.”
It would be “like an audit also of your practices toward sustainability and expand opportunities” for global business while also helping in the fight against climate change and environmental degradation in the country, she further stated.
For De la Cruz, “certification allows us to communicate to the public, market our projects, products and services in a more ethical way, knowing that whatever we claim is indeed the truth. And for consumers, whatever they pay for, indeed they are getting.”
Delantar cautioned that getting certified is not easy because of the many requirements and even the sometimes changing criteria, but said that certification “strengthens your organization and lets you discover the gaps,” while increasing consumer confidence in the company.