ESG resource

August 2, 2021


How Far We’ve Come – The Evolution of Corporate Sustainability

From the production floor to the board room, corporate sustainability is on the top of everyone’s minds.

ESG Illustration

From the production floor to the board room, corporate sustainability is on the top of everyone’s minds. This is a far cry from how businesses operated in the past. Over the past ten years, Keter has enjoyed being on the frontlines of the corporate sustainability evolution. As our ten-year anniversary approaches, we’re reflecting on the recent evolution of corporate sustainability.

The Evolution of Corporate Sustainability and Responsibility

If you look back at corporate objectives thirty years ago – or even ten years ago – increasing the bottom-line was the only metric that mattered. Milton Friedman’s doctrine, “The Social Responsibility of Business Is To Increase Its Profits,” acted as an inspiration for businesses (and their shareholders) for decades to follow. That said, most saw it as a noble cause rather than a long-term business strategy.

Fast forward to 2021, and corporate sustainability is no longer a nice-to-have. It’s mission-critical for businesses that want to succeed in the next economy. The “next economy” is an economy where organizations that are silent on sustainability and responsibility risk getting left behind. Here’s the proof: Customer preferences are changing.

One in three consumers stopped buying certain brands or products because of ethical or sustainability concerns. Employee preferences are changing. 90% of team members that work at companies with a strong sense of purpose say they’re more inspired, motivated, and loyal. Investors are betting on companies dedicated to ESG (environmental, social, and governance). Investing is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2030, compared to $5.4 billion in 2018.

Waste and Byproduct Management Practices

Like corporate sustainability, corporate byproduct management has also evolved in recent years. What hasn’t made as much progress is the worldwide landfill crisis. As seen in the Harvard Business Review, “Since 1979, the United States has exhausted more than two-thirds of its landfills; projections indicate that another one-fifth will close over the next five years.” The statement itself isn’t all that surprising. What’s more alarming is that this statement was written in 1991. In the decades following this statement, landfill waste improvement has fluctuated. In the European Union, the amount of waste sent to landfills between 2010 and 2018 decreased 7.6%. During that same period, U.S. landfill waste increased by 9.8 million tons. But, those tides are expected to turn with more calls for corporate zero waste and zero waste to landfill programs. These calls may finally change our direction. As of early 2021, 21% of the world’s 2,000 largest organizations have committed to net-zero targets – of which many include zero waste goals.

At Keter, we’ve been waiting for the corporate sustainability evolution to take hold for ten years. We work with businesses to help them achieve their near- and long-term sustainability objectives.