Doing Better by the Environment
A Nestlé case study
The environment is a key subject that affects us all. Protection of the environment and the move towards sustainable development remains a responsibility that must be shared between the public, governments and the private sector.
Following years of work on environmental issues dating back to the 30's, in 1996 the Nestlé Environmental Management System (NEMS) was introduced which consolidates all environmental measures taken by the Nestlé Group. NEMS is now used to ensure continuous improvement in Nestlé's environmental performance covering all its business activities.
This case study examines the background to ...view middle of the document...
In 1992 the United Nations Conference on Environmental and Development (UNCED) was held in Rio de Janeiro. The main outcome of the conference was Agenda 21, which marked an important landmark in the sustainable development fight, and inter country co-operation. Agenda 21 was the main document signed at the conference. It was over 800 pages long, and represented a new global commitment to sustainable development. It was not a legally binding document, but was devised as a working plan which countries would follow. The conference marked the start of global co-operation, which was needed to deal with the many issues, including concern for the environment.
The Sustainable Business
The concept and support for, sustainable development is growing. Many businesses have integrated a strategy of sustainability (taking into account its 3 main aspects - economic, environment, social). It makes good business sense for companies to be environmentally friendly as improved efficiency in manufacturing in turn leads to a more efficient use of natural resources. Operating efficiently translates to competitive advantage for business and supports the economic pillar of sustainability as well. Therefore, all aspects of sustainability are seen as complementary, and mutually interdependent. Agenda 21 states that responsible businesses should play a major role in improving the efficiency of resource use. This can result in minimising waste and protecting human health and environmental quality. For a business to be environmentally sustainable, the company must start by becoming environmentally aware from the inside. The whole ethics and culture of the organisation must reflect those of sustainable development. This includes what the company does, how it treats its workers, how it deals with other organisations, how the managers act and what messages these actions send out. Sustainable Development is an integrated approach including economic, environmental and social aspects. Therefore all three are to be put at complementary levels of priority each considering effects of the other components.
Agenda 21 lays out a seven point plan for businesses to start changing values and perceptions. It states that they should:
develop policies that support operations and products that have lower environmental impacts ensure responsible and ethical management of products and processes from the point of view of health, safety and the environment make environmentally sound technologies available to affiliates in developing countries without prohibitive charges encourage overseas affiliates to modify procedures in order to reflect local ecological conditions and share information with Governments create partnerships to help people in smaller companies learn business skills establish national councils for sustainable development, both in the formal business community and in the informal sector, which includes small scale businesses increase research and development of...