Supply chain 24 January 2018

don’t underestimate what your business can do for local sustainability

Over two-thirds of consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable goods
Writing for Business Advice, Amanda MacKenzie, chief executive of Business in the Community, considers how small companies can be a leading influence on local sustainability.

As a small business, it can be easy to be over-awed by the big movers and shakers in your sector and to underestimate the impact that you can have on customers, partners and the community around you.

Every day in my role at Business in the Community I come across organisations of all shapes and sizes that have made positive decisions about the way they operate or their priorities, which have ricocheted out to the world around them in great or small ways.

As Marc Benioff, founder of American cloud computing company, Salesforce, and noted philanthropist, said: In business, we say that people overestimate what you can do in a year and underestimate what you can do in a decade. This is true in philanthropy as well.

Fixing your eyes on your long-term impact and daring to dream of alternative ways of working is a key characteristic of any successful business leader. Taking a risk and trying something new may be costly, it may not work, but there is a chance it could change the world forever.

And how do you change the world forever? One step at a time.

An example of a small business that is demonstrating how you can make a real difference and be a catalyst for good in the community and industry is The Lakes Free Range Egg Company, a family-run business supplying organic and free range eggs. It won the award for Environmental Leadership at our Responsible Business Awards ceremony last year because of its impressive commitment to animal welfare, enhancing the environment and minimising its carbon impact.

Based near Penrith, it achieves this by planting trees indigenous to the area, encouraging hens to range further and wildlife to return to farms. All of its producers adopt the same sustainability model, and the company’s hen performance is industry leading its birds produce an incredible 312 eggs per year, compared to an industry average of 295, generating 2 to 3 more income per bird. it’s a profitable and replicable model.

David Brass, the CEO of The Lakes Free Range Egg Company has always been ambitious in his approach. He has set his company’s agenda and blazed a trail, which others have then followed.

Remarkably, the Lakes has persuaded McDonald’s, the world’s largest restaurant chain, to include tree planting in its supplier specification and has conducted research in conjunction with McDonald’s and Bristol University that has proved the benefits of trees to hens.

This is proof that even the smallest supplier in the biggest, global supply chain can make its presence felt and views heard.

It also demonstrates that sustainable practices can be commercially viable. With 66 per cent of consumers willing to pay more for sustainable goods, according to a study by Nielsen, in the last three years sales for The Lakes have grown 17 per cent to 30m a clear indication that being good to the environment can also be good for the bottom line.



Local currencies series

Business Advice ventured to Liverpool, Brixton, Hackney and Bristol to find out how local currency schemes have been reinforcing local supply chains.