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Harnessing green data to build trust in your organisation

Sandy Dhesi, Commercial Manager at Ecoveritas, explains the importance of sustainable storytelling and building public trust through honest environmental narratives. 

white and black butterfly on grass

When everything you do impacts the planet, where do you start? Particularly in today’s complex, dynamic business environment. Everywhere we turn, we hear the word ‘sustainability’. But are companies doing enough? The honest and bracing answer is simple: No. 

Businesses leading in this area have enabled their stakeholders to own sustainability and reap the benefits of deeper experience with and ownership of social and environmental issues. They use the power of their actions and communications to build markets, engage consumers, shift policy, and facilitate the rapid growth of sustainable products, services, and lifecycles. While a lot is said about the ‘why’ of sustainable business, there is much less about the ‘how’. From our experience, the answer is trust.

When actions meet words – or data

You can’t buy it. You can’t sell it. You can’t even see it. Trust is one of the most valuable intangible assets that a company can have. It takes many years to build, a few seconds to break and forever to repair.

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer 2022, business is the only trusted institution. Two years ago, the government was the most trusted. With more and more companies today pledging to balance the interests of their stakeholders and not always put their shareholders first, executives should ask themselves every time they make a major decision: ‘Will this enhance trust among those we claim to serve?’

At Ecoveritas, we help customers get to grips with their packaging data to promote trust between user, manufacturer and brand. Why? Because this data can form part of a comprehensive blueprint for companies and leaders who want to build or regain their stakeholders’ trust. Better still, it can fuel the systematic dynamics of going green.

Every business wants to unleash the value of this data, but most organisations struggle to move beyond simply producing, collecting and storing massive amounts of information. The key to getting value out of your data is creating a modern data strategy that equips people across your organisation to respond quickly to market changes, improve efficiency, build new customer experiences, uncover growth opportunities and make high-quality decisions with speed.

From modernising your data infrastructure and unifying your data by breaking down data silos and bringing together information from different sources to using your data to innovate, reimagine processes and solve high-impact business problems.

Comprehensive data sets spur knowledge exchange and innovation at an exponential rate. We cannot track progress meaningfully or locate the most impactful avenues if we don’t measure. Using data to measure and track performance across sectors, businesses, cities, and nations will enable actors to set goals, peer review, measure and benchmark performance. It will also allow them to track progress against their sustainable and circular ambitions or goals and formulate practical pathways aligned to local contexts.

EPR about to take centre stage

Tackling the waste crisis could be one of the most rewarding investments we ever make, and European and UK governments are responding with legislation and action to tackle the issue. However, it can only work if the whole system works – companies must react properly.

From new Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) regulations across Europe to Plastic Taxes now in force and deposit return schemes for drinks containers, packaging producers will be expected to bear the Full Net Cost of the packaging they place on the market.

We expect because we trust; otherwise, we doubt or do not trust at all.

And it’s tempting to think that trust is simple and that we should be able to spot a lack of trustworthiness relatively easily. But we all have our stories about misplaced trust. Everything looked good on the surface, and maybe it wasn’t. Sound familiar?

white printer paper with black pen

The bluster of greenwash pervades many sectors, collectively blinding us to the scale of change needed and obscuring where the true solutions lie.

When it comes to sustainability, trust comes from investing in long-term relationships rather than attempting to buy positive opinions. Typically, PR departments create an inflated image of the company’s sustainability credentials while actual performance lags far behind. 

The long-awaited proposal for the Substantiating Green Claims Directive by the European Commission was released to the public last month, while the UK competition watchdog’s potential examination of FMCG businesses is another timely wake-up call.

Instead, our suite of data tools helps companies ground their packaging claims in evidence and reduce the risk of further inaction from companies immobilised by their fear of greenwashing. Ultimately, this means that those doing the correct thing for the environment stand out for their choices. Together with clients, we work to raise the overall standard of the marketplace, allowing us all to make better purchasing decisions in the future.

A recent study released by Inmarsat showed 76% of major industries do not trust the ESG reporting of their competitors. Breaking it down further: 80% of respondents believe competitors work harder to be perceived as sustainable rather than achieve sustainable outcomes.

Environmental compliance data should be the nectar of any circular economy for those who think big businesses can’t do the right thing.

For many businesses, the lines between corporate profits, NGO values and government standards are blurring – which is good. Gone are the days when a company’s job was done once a customer had a satisfactory product. And for those with a formal sustainability plan already in place, the bar for being ecologically and socially accountable is rising.

At Ecoveritas, we see it as a mandate to look across the entire business for misinterpreted or undervalued optimisation opportunities, from more sustainable packaging design to eco-friendlier deliveries. And there’s room to create a differentiated experience that’s good for the planet and the bottom line.

The power of story continues to drive corporate value, with overall success dependent on adding substance to data and persuading even cautious investors to take risks.

Sustainability is often the sum of many obvious thoughts and simple actions, resulting in a powerful and largely positive impact. It is spotting these actions that Ecoveritas, or more specifically, data, can help with. Remember, when trust breaks down, so does our ability to move forward.

More features: 

Now the season is done, Premier League emissions can really kick off

EU Sustainability Directive: What UK and global businesses need to know

Images: Akin Cakiner (Top) / Melanie Deziel (Middle)

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