Estimating impact and setting priorities to become a greener company

Setting priorities allows for the effects of the transition to sustainable development to be observed more quickly and allows companies to act more effectively.

With the aid of the indicators presented in this section and taking into account the entire course of a product within an SME, the areas for improvement become identifiable.

To determine these, it may prove helpful to draw up a summary table. This table should set out the sources of environmental problems and, for each of them, explain the nature of the impact on the ecosystem, the interests of the stakeholders concerned (positive or negative) and the potential for improvement.

Here is a fictitious example of a table drawn up in this context:

Areas affected Nature of impact and interest of stakeholders (+/-) Potential improvements along with profits and losses Additional information available or to be collected
Manufacturing factors
Use of hazardous materials Use of certain materials is restricted by law or certain materials are toxic to health and the environment. The public is becoming increasingly sensitive to this issue. Replace with less problematic alternatives. Identify potential suppliers and confirm with an analysis of profits and losses.
Operational processes
Lack of monitoring of energy efficiency and heat loss Inefficiency and heat loss represent a waste of energy and money. Basic monitoring can help track performances and identify opportunities for improvement. Find potential solutions for monitoring energy efficiency and look into how to inform and involve staff.
End products contain a lot of plastic Current packaging is not recyclable. More and more customers are complaining. Examine the option of using recycled cardboard for packaging. Explore packaging options and the consequences in terms of brand image.
Source: OECD guidelines on sustainable production

Identify priority areas

It is not enough to note the areas for improvement in terms of environmental impact. Entrepreneurs must prioritize this information and set focus areas for action. Here are some examples of points to be identified:

  • Rapid gains. Areas where positive, prompt impact can be achieved. For example, energy savings.
  • Hot spots. Areas in which debates have already taken place; for example, by the local population in connection with the emissions of the production site.
  • Strategic imperatives. The essential initiatives for the company; for example, the response to the specific demands of customers wanting products manufactured based on certain standards.

Beginners can focus on objectives that produce immediate benefits. They may engage in longer term projects afterwards.

Assigning a level of importance to the issues

High importance:

  • The decision results in a significant improvement for the environment and is very important to the stakeholders.
  • The result is commercial opportunities and a better reputation for the company.

Average importance:

  • The measure moderately improves the impact on the environment and attracts the attention of some stakeholders.
  • Reasonable opportunities and a definite improvement in the company’s reputation are possible.

Low importance:

  • The action has a limited effect on the environment and moderately attracts the attention of stakeholders.

The result is a lower number of opportunities and a small improvement in reputation.


Last modification 10.10.2022

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