A few words about sustainability

by Find My Programme on Feb 2, 2023

A few words about sustainability

Start-ups and sustainability

Sustainability is becoming an increasingly important matter not only for well-established companies but also for start-ups. Many start-ups are recognizing the growing importance of incorporating sustainable practices and principles into their business models and operations. These practices are dictated not only by the concept of building an environmentally friendly business but also contribute to building a strong and resilient business that is able to withstand market fluctuations and societal changes.

Apart from developing products and services that are environmentally friendly or that help to reduce the environmental impact of other products or services, other solutions of incorporating sustainability include developing sustainable transportation solutions, such as electric bikes and cars, or that are working on new and innovative ways to generate renewable energy or introducing solutions to reduce waste and promote recycling, repurpose waste materials.

Another way start-ups incorporate sustainability is by building sustainable supply chains and responsibly sourcing materials and products. This can include sourcing materials from local suppliers, choosing suppliers that have a strong commitment to sustainability, or implementing sustainable farming or fishing practices.

In addition, many start-ups are also focused on social sustainability. This can include initiatives such as fair trade, ethical sourcing, and fair labour practices. This can help to ensure that the people and communities that are involved in the production and supply of goods and services are treated fairly and with respect.


Well-established companies and sustainability

Similarly, to start-ups, well-established companies recognized the importance of sustainability and have implemented various practices to reduce their environmental impact and promote social responsibility.

For example, companies in the retail industry such as Patagonia and H&M have implemented sustainable production methods, including the use of organic cotton and recycled materials. In the tech industry, companies like Dell and HP have implemented programs to reduce their carbon footprint and promote energy efficiency.

While, many companies, such as Unilever and Nestle, have committed to sourcing sustainable ingredients and reducing food waste others have taken the initiative to offset their carbon emissions through investment in renewable energy sources and reforestation projects. Overall, well-established businesses are increasingly recognizing the importance of sustainability and taking steps to reduce their environmental impact and promote social responsibility.


Sustainability and ESG

Sustainability and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria are closely related concepts. Sustainability refers to the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. ESG criteria, on the other hand, are a set of standards used to evaluate a company's performance in areas related to sustainability, including environmental impact, social responsibility, and corporate governance. In other words, ESG criteria are a way of measuring and assessing a company's overall sustainability performance.

It was back in the 1990s and early 2000s, that the focus on ESG investing began to grow as investors became more aware of the risks and opportunities associated with environmental and social issues. The term "ESG" started to be widely used in the early 2000s, and the focus on these issues has continued to grow since then.

In recent years, ESG investing has gained mainstream attention and acceptance, with a growing number of investors, asset managers and companies recognizing the importance of considering environmental, social and governance factors in investment decisions. Companies across the globe are looking for ESG experts to lead the change towards better ESG performance, advise on more accurate and aligned ways to measure and evaluate the companies' performance on sustainability and ensure ESG metrics, screening criteria and performance reports are in line with constantly evolving rules.

Professional development programmes such as DIPLOMA IN ENVIRONMENTAL, SOCIAL AND GOVERNANCE (ESG) delivered by the Corporate Governance Institute train individuals to become ESG and Corporate Governance experts ready to advise, counsel and lead ESG strategies within the organization.


Promoting sustainability – the case of Dutch market

The Sustainable Brand Index™ is a leading brand research organization in Europe that focuses on sustainability and brand development. The organization has been conducting an annual survey in the Netherlands since 2017. The survey, which is based on more than 60,000 independent consumer interviews, maps and analyzes the sustainability, branding, and communication of consumer brands across industries.

The purpose of the organization is to highlight, promote and award campaigns, product development, and partnership innovations that have a positive impact on people, society, and the environment. The overall goal is to raise awareness about the value of sustainable branding, to motivate, inform, and inspire companies to improve, to communicate their sustainability efforts through branding and communication and serve as an example or inspiration for other players in the market.


Top 10 Dutch companies according to Sustainable Brand Index 2022


De Vegetarische Slager


Tony's Chocolonely
















Albert Heijn


Looking at the initiative of the year 2022, among the finalists, there were both start-ups and well-established companies:

  • Karma Kebab – 2nd place winner awarded for offering 100% plant-powered kebab, made from Dutch celeriac and grains
  • Fairtrade Original koffie – first coffee brand in the Dutch supermarket, offering farmers a living income reference price (LIRP) for their coffee.
  • Zeeman & Het Goed – resale of second-hand clothes
  • Interface - Embodied Beauty™ - very first CO2 negative carpet tile producer
  • Biologische zuivel van PLUS- 3rd place winner awarded for the initiative of converting all private label milk, buttermilk and yogurt products into standard organic dairy (allowing the customers to continue to pay the same price and the farmers to receive the additional price that fits organic).
  • Renewball – 1st place winner awarded for inventing the world's first circular tennis and padel ball, made from old tennis balls. Renewaball not only collects old tennis balls from tennis clubs and gives them a second life by recycling them (contributing to 30% less CO2 emissions than a regular tennis ball due to local production), but also raises awareness of the environmental and climate impact (ordinary tennis ball travels 80,000 km before reaching Europe, 97% of tennis balls end up in either landfill or incineration, spreading microplastic particles in the air with each ball hit, hardly decomposing materials balls are made of) and offering a solution - creating a new ball out of recycled parts, with bio-felt cloth.


The future is in sustainability

Even disregarding the fact that the two of the top winners are start-ups, the overall business practices and developments prove that sustainability is becoming an important consideration for all kinds of businesses and not just a temporary trend. Whether it is a start-up or a well-established business existing on market for years, incorporating sustainability, it is a good way to distinguish itself from the crowd of other companies, and well-position business model and operations for long-term success and further contribute to a more sustainable future for all.



Sustainable Brand Index (2022) Available on: https://www.sb-index.nl/initiatief-van-het-jaar (Accessed: 26 January 2023).

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