It Is Smart Only If It Is Sustainable. Environmentally Friendly Business Strategies As A Source Of Creating Bigger Value Pool And Reducing Negative Environmental Impacts
Khan, Mohammad Tashfeen
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In today’s world, we thrashed about with intensive resource exploitation, increased productivity and increasing returns to scale to make abnormal profits and to form a system that favours the survival and growth of the corporate sector at the cost of environmental degradation. It is only now that the expression, ‘environmental sustainability’, which is to sustain or prolong the environment, became a focal point in today’s corporate social responsibility agendas and reports. But this vagary of the corporate sector to decipher the environmental degradation enigma has not worked due to existing system and outdated strategies. Therefore, this paper calls for reinventing the system by unleashing wave of innovations, crafting new strategies, and having a vision based on transformation. To illustrate my points, I focus on the smartphone industry to unveil its environmental impact at every phase of its life cycle and throughout the supply chain. The environmental impact of the smartphone is evident at the extraction of raw material, manufacturing, distribution and packaging, use, and end of life phases. The key challenge for understanding these impacts is the complexity of the smartphone and its value chain. Smartphone, throughout its life cycle, also plays a huge part in perilous climate change. Deforestation, inefficient mining of metals and ‘rare earths’, air, water and land pollution, use of toxic chemicals, enormous e-waste generation, harmful smelting processes, ineffective companies’ policies and government regulations and irrational consumer behaviours – all are evils associated with smartphones’ entire life cycle. Also, the CO2 emissions for all the phases of the life cycle of the smartphones for the year 2020 are forecasted to be around 390.4 megatons. I think environmental sustainability objectives require complex systems thinking for which we need collaborative effort. In this regard, I have designed what I call a “meta strategy” for “environmental sustainability”. The “meta strategy” not just provides a guiding lens to mitigate smartphones’ environmental impact but it can result in minimizing expenses of the smartphones’ entire life cycle phase by phase, by taking advantage from others’ competencies and creating clusters or partnerships, which in turn creates a larger value pool for every single actor involved. Around 6.1 billion smartphones are expected to be in use by 2020, thus creating an awareness regarding its environmental impact and providing a strategy to mitigate its environmental impact will have a tremendous multiplier effect among users, and a system changing and influential behaviour among manufacturers respectively.