“Eco” isn’t a credential – it’s a necessity

With half the country in a state of disarray this week at having to remember their “keep” bags for their weekly shop, and the other half incredulous that their Facebook feed is littered with bag-related quandaries, it seems we’re all as mixed up as ever when it comes to our eco responsibilities.

I think that goes doubly for businesses. Broadly speaking, we seem to fall into two camps: those who consider themselves eco brands and those who don’t. From a business perspective, we have to cater to the needs, wants and desires of our customers. If they don’t rate the environment as a factor in their purchasing decisions then, typically, it’s not a business imperative. But that doesn’t have to be the end of the story.

The issue of environmental sustainability is something big business is often held to account on, but it’s something we need to address at a micro level too.

As the CEO of a firm which trades in areas like aquaculture and floating solar, you might say that we’re expected and almost – by default – obligated to have a greater environmental drive. In truth, our solar product developed semi-organically when we discovered that an existing design we had in the market provided a perfect starting point for floating solar arrays, just as our commitment to better conditions for the transportation of fish led to the design of an ecologically superior alternative. We’ve identified gaps, nurtured great ideas, and added an environmental imperative at every step to make them even better. Being ‘eco’ has become a crucial part of our business.

In the same way, the bag-ban naysayers will find their way to alternative solutions. Solutions which, even from a personal functionality perspective, will – in time – prove infinitely superior to ye olde plastic bags. You’ll see it already through your Facebook feed (if you’re so inclined), as businesses big and small enter the reusable bag market and individuals innovate to fill the gap. It’s progress, and if you don’t move with it, you’ll be sunk by it.

When we started out in 1983 we were designing and supplying lifting bags to the Australian Defence Force (a contract that we are still proud to hold). It was with the creation of our patented FishPac live air transport system – an alternative to traditional, environmentally toxic methods of aquatic transport (which also yielded high mortality rates amongst the aquatic cargo) – that our name became synonymous with innovation. It was also the point when we really began to “think” green.

Underpinning these developments has been our sense of responsibility for not just the natural environment, but the Australian community. We’re on a mission to ensure that our floating solar product is 100 per cent Australian made – down to the last fibre and screw – and 100 per cent recycled and recyclable. It’s a work in progress, but we’re inching ever closer.

As we add products and materials to our range, recyclability is a key factor in our thinking. Why? Because we believe it’s a moral and social imperative and, honestly, it’s the way of the future. At some point the global pendulum has to swing, and those who are prepared for a sustainable future will be light years ahead of their competitors.

Green and lean can go hand in hand, it can be a hugely motivating factor for your team – particularly if, like ours, they’re inspired by exceptional R&D – and it truly is a means of future-proofing your organisation. That’s why we consider ourselves the “keep” bag of our industry, and you should strive to be too.

Gavin Hodgins, CEO, SME FloatPac Pty Ltd

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