Businesses must ‘think outside of the box’ with sustainability strategies, says Carlsberg

EXCLUSIVE: Today's business models are not fit for purpose if we are to deliver the transformational change needed to create a sustainable future, and firms need to be willing to step out of their 'comfort zone' to drive positive change.

That’s the view of Charlotta Lyon, vice-president of corporate affairs for Western Europe at Carlsberg Group. Lyon, who is speaking at Sustainability Live next month, says businesses will need to re-establish themselves and their value networks to achieve sustainability success.

Speaking exclusively to edie, Lyon said: “The business models we have today – across different countries and different sectors – are often so well-established that they don’t really help in making some of transformational changes. It can be very challenging to deliver against sustainability objectives if the way we do business is already so engrained.

“Doing things in a transformational manor and becoming more ‘sustainable’ means that you have to step out of your comfort zone, and encourage others to step out of theirs. 

“Coming up with innovative sustainability initiatives that drive your business forward can serve two purposes: it can drive overall change within your business, and it can also change the processes of the other businesses you co-operate with, because it all becomes part of the same journey.”

Circular Community

Lyon speaks from experience. Since joining Carlsberg in July 2014, she has overseen the delivery of the ‘Carlsberg Circular Community’, which has seen the brewer effectively take the lead on resource effectiveness and the circular economy; using a ‘Cradle-to-Cradle’ design framework to partner with suppliers, create clean material streams optimised for reuse and recycling, and support the sharing of sustainable innovations between companies – all in pursuit of zero-waste.

“I was very curious about the Circular Community concept when I joined the group,” Lyon said. “But I think it’s making headway, definitely. “It’s a great example of approaching an area within your business and exploring how you can change the way you’re working to achieve different results than if you’d continued to do what you’ve done previously.

“It’s become something that everyone talks about because it’s outside of the normal scope of business. The team that have developed the Community and are leading the effort have been realistic and also very focused on moving it forward – progressing the cradle-to-cradle certification and engagement in new opportunities, such as the green fibre bottle we launched earlier in the year.

“There’s still so much work to do and we are really still at the start of the process, but in terms of taking those key steps, we have made the ‘leap of faith’. It’s inspiring for our partners and it sends very important messages internally as well – this is not something that just comes and goes, sustainability really is being driven in a professional way.”

Charlotta Lyon at Sustainability Live 2015

Charlotta Lyon will be speaking at edie’s brand new high-level Conference as part of Sustainability Live 2015 in April. In a session titled ‘New models: the system revolutionaries’, Lyon will discuss how brands and businesses can become the ‘problem solvers’ by progressing innovative business models such as the circular economy, the sharing economy and servitization.

Find out more and register to attend Sustainability Live 2015 for FREE here.

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