A Critical point for both the planet and for business
The various environmental crises we are seeing such as climate change, the plastic tide, biodiversity collapsing is causing real and present concern for the public and so consumers want more ethical and eco-friendly products and services.
Research on consumer trends in Ireland, the EU and the USA all points to consumers becoming not just more aware of environmental issues but also becoming more willing to make ethical purchasing decisions. Consumers are now demanding quality goods and services that have been produced as efficiently as possible and they are ready to pay more for them.
At the same time, mineral resources such as precious and heavy metals are becoming scarce and natural capital is diminishing. For businesses, this means more expensive raw materials and less security of supply. Large corporate supply chains, as well as financial institutions, are no longer willing to work with or invest in businesses that are not complying with higher environmental standards.
Likewise, jobs market trends suggest that the Millennial generation, so those of about 22 to 37 years, want to work for companies that reflect their values and that are doing the ‘right thing’. So companies who want to attract and retain that talent will need to transition towards values-driven business models.
There is also an important policy and legislative context to consider here. The EU Circular Economy Package was passed into legislation and it lays down ambitious recycling targets for a range of materials. It requires products to be designed without hazardous materials, if at all possible, and in such a way that they can be easily repaired and easily taken apart to be reused or recycled.
This is law now, so companies need to move towards Circular Economy models to ensure compliance.