The first day of the Sustainable Brands Sydney conference has brought together over 200 of Australia’s sustainability industry professionals to analyse the environmental and social impact of brands. Local and international thought leaders discussed how Australia can be part of a sustainable world, creating business models that deliver both purpose and profit.
Day 1 kicked off with the first session led by Dr Sally Uren, CEO, Forum for the Future, who flew in from the UK to highlight key opportunities for Australian brands, such as system innovation, the circular economy, pre-competitive collaboration and closing the circle between government, business and the consumer/community.
“The role of business in delivering solutions to society’s current set of significant and complex sustainability challenges has never before attracted so much attention. It’s critical to transform the key systems we rely on and to involve everyone in the value chain, from the producers and manufacturers right through to the end-user, all working together towards a common aim,” said Dr Uren.
Tom Szaky, founder and chief executive of TerraCycle – a leader in eco-capitalism and upcycling, shared insights into how his brand has grown by engaging consumers in recycling post-consumer products and packaging.
“Recycling something that isn’t recyclable, like many other key sustainability functions, requires an investment of money, so what we really have to unlock is that we can learn to create value from sustainability investments,” said Szaky.
“At TerraCycle we repurpose hard-to-recycle post-consumer waste, ranging from used cosmetics to coffee capsules and cigarette butts. The waste is collected through free, brand-funded recycling programs, as well as various consumer and government-funded models. The collected waste is recycled, reused or upcycled into a variety of sustainable consumer and industrial products.”
Ben Peacock, founder and partner at Republic of Everyone together with Mark Chapman, director of tax communications at H&R Block discussed how brands are attracting millennials as another view on brand sustainability.
“Millennials think differently. Brands need to consider ‘purpose’ as a driver, for people for whom financial rewards are no long top of the motivation tree,” said Peacock.
“There’s oodles of research to show that millennials – and indeed Gen Y – will go out of their way to work for a company who shows a genuine commitment to CSR, environment and sustainability. And that current workers are more engaged and stay longer in a company that shows real purpose and commitment to reducing its impact on the world.”
Closing Day 1 of the Sustainable Brands conference, Andrew Petersen, CEO of Sustainable Business Australia congratulated brands who worked to align their business strategies with the Sustainable Development Goals.
“Australian business is becoming very aware of the opportunities that are opened up by the newly adopted United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and many are planning strategic partnerships to pursue and implement the Goals. I’d like to congratulate my members, Abergeldie, KPMG and NAB, who were listed in the Top Ten of the 8th Annual Review of the State of CSR in Australia and New Zealand, released today.
“Businesses are powerful actors to help resolve the big challenges of sustainability, and the collaboration of businesses to deliver transformational solutions cannot be underestimated.
“Our members, as well as others in the business community, are taking steps to create a more sustainable future,” concluded Petersen.
SB16 Sydney is organised by MCI Australia and supported by host partners Banksia Foundation and Sustainable Business Australia and Strategic Partner Destination NSW, the NSW Government’s tourism and major events agency.