Business sustainability is about ensuring that organisations implement strategies that contribute to long-term success. Organisations that act in a sustainable manner not only help maintain the well-being of the planet and people; they also create businesses that will survive and thrive in the long run.
Leading companies recognise that successful sustainability performance translates into successful bottom-line business performance, and that investors are attracted to companies that act in a sustainable manner with a focus on long-term profitability and competitive advantage.
We live in an increasingly global community, where economic, environmental, and social issues transcend national and corporate boundaries. Our 21st-century challenges require 21st-century solutions and will require a co-ordinated response by the public and private sectors.
Long-term business success will require that sustainable practices be deeply embedded in the DNA of all organisations. As companies innovate to better secure their long-term viability, the accounting profession will play an important role.
Accountants can serve as leading agents for change by applying their skills and competencies to develop sustainability strategies, facilitate effective implementation, accurate measurement and credible business reporting.
Catalyst Paper: Sustainability as an ‘and’ business
Catalyst Paper Corporation treats sustainability as a business discipline, one that addresses a broad scope of risks and opportunities, and one that benefits from finance and accounting expertise. The Canada-based company is the only producer of lightweight coated paper in western North America and is one of the largest producers of directory papers in the world.
"Our cost reduction practices are not an either-or proposition," notes Lyn Brown, Catalyst Paper’s Vice President, Corporate Relations and Social Responsibility. "We always have two objectives in mind: one, reduce costs; and two, improve our value proposition in a marketplace that is leaning greener."
"Zero-sum trade-offs are not effective; instead we strive for an ‘and’ business discipline around sustainability. Our finance and accounting experts help us embed sustainability considerations throughout the business rather than isolating them in a department so that we are all mindful of the costs and the opportunities that lie within our reach."
Catalyst Paper’s sustainability capability grew in response to the environmental campaigns of the early 1990s. As a manufacturer, Catalyst Paper sources fiber from third parties and 87% of the supply is waste wood and recovered waste paper.
Still, the company is associated with the forestry sector. The need to respond to environmental protest marked its early sustainability initiatives.
More recently, Catalyst Paper has shifted gears to identify business and market opportunities it could leverage through sustainability discipline, including access to new customer segments and cost-savings.
Today, Catalyst Paper identifies, accounts for, reports, manages and considers sustainability risks and opportunities along the entire business value chain, including:
- Inputs: Catalyst has implemented a chain of custody at all manufacturing facilities to provide customers with transparency on fiber sourcing, with third-party verification to known international standards and certainty of compliance with all relevant national and international logging laws.