Green tech, materials and preserving nature: The corporate sustainability trends shaping 2024

Sustainability has rightfully integrated into corporate agendas as a core pillar that must be proactively addressed. With new EU sustainability reporting rules coming into effect this year, businesses are facing increasing regulatory pressures as countries aim to reach their net-zero goals.  This increased focus is propelling businesses to evolve their practices and adopt a host of innovative strategies. As we delve into 2024, three key trends emerge that reflect this growing commitment to sustainable business practices.

Green Tech Leading the Way

The continued reduction of carbon emissions is at the forefront of corporate sustainability strategies: businesses’ ability to evolve and improve their practices to support this will be critical in the year ahead. Businesses are increasingly turning to innovative green technologies which will play a central part in this transition, driving effective change within organisations and helping them achieve their sustainability goals.

While new technologies are constantly emerging, there is also the opportunity to be creative in using existing green technologies and adapting them to your business needs.

One example of this in practice comes from Chivas Brothers, the Scotch whisky business of global drinks company Pernod Ricard.  The business successfully implemented carbon cutting heat recovery technologies, including Mechanical Vapour Recompression (MVR), to reduce the energy used in the carbon-intensive distillation process. The use of this technology has reduced total energy consumption by almost half (48%) at Glentauchers distillery, near Keith in Speyside, Scotland. Chivas Brothers made the decision to take its findings ‘open source’ and put collaboration ahead of competition, as the deployment of this technology has the potential to transform the industry and accelerate its progress to net zero.

The innovative use of green tech highlights the importance of adaptability for corporates when facing sustainability challenges and in 2024, businesses will increasingly embrace and invest in these technologies.

Rethinking the Role of Packaging

The environmental toll of packaging has long been a concern and the latest figures reveal the EU generated 84 million tonnes of packaging waste in 2021. This year, manufacturers will need to continue to evaluate their approach to packaging as part of their brand proposition.

The drinks industry has an important role to play in this area and is already making significant progress in reducing the impact of its packaging. For example, Pernod Ricard is on track to achieving its 2025 goal of ensuring 100% of all packaging is recyclable, reusable, or compostable.

Looking ahead, the focus will continue to be on light weighting and the removal of unnecessary secondary packaging. Beyond this, we will see the emergence of more innovative sustainable packaging solutions and further experimentation with new materials, such as the Absolut paper bottle, that can reduce the environmental impact of products and shape a more sustainable future.

Safeguarding Nature and Biodiversity

Most manufacturers now have well-established net-zero pathways, but as the effects of climate change intensify, there is an increased urgency to protect natural habitats. Safeguarding nature and biodiversity will climb the agenda in 2024. Last year’s State of Nature Scotland Report serves as a stark reminder of the challenges ahead, revealing a 15% decrease in Scottish wildlife since 1994.

Businesses should actively be contributing to the restoration and protection of ecosystems in 2024, working to counter biodiversity loss. This is especially important for industries that rely on natural habitats like we do at Pernod Ricard. Prioritising collaboration is key as we look to form partnerships between NGOs, universities, grower groups and government bodies. This collaborative approach will help ensure that the ingredients and habitats that support them are protected for generations to come.

The corporate sustainability trends of 2024 signal a new era of responsibility and innovation. Green technologies, evolving packaging solutions and the protection of biodiversity are not only trends but imperatives that businesses must embrace moving forward. This year, it is clear businesses will need to evolve and adapt as they prioritise sustainability and safeguarding the planet.

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