New research from sustainability consulting firm Pure Strategies reveals growth in corporate spending in sustainability; more than 80 percent of surveyed companies expect a budget increase from 2016 to 2017 with a third anticipating double-digit growth.
Conducted by research firm Verdantix, Pure Strategies interviewed 153 sustainability leads in global companies with revenue of at least $250 million in the food and beverage, apparel and footwear, life sciences and medical products, electronics and appliances, home care and cleaning, personal care and cosmetics, and general merchandise industries.
The 153 survey respondents reported gaining approximately $800 million from increased sales and $800 million in manufacturing cost savings, with additional earnings in risk reduction, productivity gains and enhanced growth opportunities adding up to billions in value. Companies that report earning the most from sustainability plan to further increase their budgets, pointing to a key link between sustainability program investment and business benefits.
The survey reveals encouraging signs of progress, including an increase in the number of companies using renewable energy, from 26 percent in 2016 to 46 percent in 2019. Seventy percent of respondents have also indicated that they are embracing safer materials. This area is expected to grow by 15 percent during the period between 2016 and 2019.
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The survey and its respondents identified Walmart as the number one retailer driving investment in sustainability, receiving twice as many votes as its competitor Target, the second most cited retailer. In two previous Pure Strategies studies, Walmart was named the top retailer stimulating investment in product sustainability.
“This report shows that companies know sustainability is good business,” said Kathleen McLaughlin, senior vice president and chief sustainability officer for Walmart. “Strengthening product supply chains and other systems today will benefit customers, business and society tomorrow. We’re proud to be addressing major issues like climate change and livelihoods, while at the same time improving efficiency and strengthening our company.”