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  • We need sustainability at the core of business to safeguard future generations

We need sustainability at the core of business to safeguard future generations

Monday, March 21, 2022

Our world is changing quickly, and with it how we do business, as the world comes together to fundamentally shift its approach to issues including our environment and inclusivity.

Now, more than ever, there is a real push for companies to focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues surrounding their business, and organizations like Nova Scotia Business Inc. (NSBI) are connecting businesses with innovative and sustainable solutions.

“Businesses in Nova Scotia are making great strides,” says Laurel Broten, President & CEO of NSBI. “When businesses put ESG and sustainability at the core of their business, it is more than just the right thing to do for our planet and society — it’s the right decision to make to ensure long term prosperity and success.”

ESG is a method that investors use to evaluate businesses for potential investment that is broken down into three categories: environmental, social and governance. For example, investors look at environmental impacts like a company’s energy use, waste, and risks.

The ESG concept looks at a business’ overall approach and how it affects communities and people, as these interconnected factors are essential for a sustainable future.

And it’s not just investors that are looking into these points, as the sustainability of companies has become very important to consumers. According to a Narrative Research survey, many Nova Scotians put a high degree of responsibility on businesses to address issues like climate change.

“When businesses put ESG and sustainability at the core of their business, it is more than just the right thing to do for our planet and society — it’s the right decision to make to ensure long term prosperity and success,” says Laurel Broten. PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Companies large and small across Nova Scotia are taking this to heart. One such example is Smallfood Inc. Based in Halifax, it produces ingredients for food, beverage and supplement industries using a strain of microalgae that produces what the company calls a ‘More Perfect Protein.’

Its founder and CEO, Marc St. Onge, says since small and medium employers like Smallfood make up 70 per cent of the Canadian economy, they have a major role to play in shifting current economic approaches to environmental sustainability and the collective wellbeing for our global community.

St. Onge was a panelist during NSBI’s NEXT 2022 Business Growth Summit, where speakers challenged businesses to put in place the right tools to track and measure ESG data and make sense of it. His team at Smallfood are using ESG data to make better strategic decisions.

“The climate crisis is an existential threat, for humanity and for our economies. So we need to do the responsible thing,” says St. Onge. “This is an opportunity to rethink the model – to shift away from a hypercompetitive model, toward hyper-collaboration. There are complex, diverse ecosystems in nature where relationships are now more predicated on reciprocity and synergy than competition, where the collective is allowed to thrive. This is the model we really have to deploy in business today.”

His advice is businesses take the first step of creating a sustainability vision, get buy-in and alignment, and to do everything in a transparent way. “We are moving into the meaningful economy,” says St. Onge.

Another example is one of the largest private employers in the province, Michelin. The tire giant celebrated its 50th anniversary of manufacturing in Nova Scotia in 2021, and is working towards greater sustainability across its business here and around the world.

“Last year, we unveiled our global all-sustainable strategy which recognizes that in order to be sustainable long term, it has to achieve the balance between people, planet and profit,” says Andrew Mutch, President of Michelin North America (Canada) Inc.

Laurel Broten, President & CEO of NSBI and Andrew Mutch, President of Michelin North America (Canada) Inc., discuss Michelin’s goal of diverting 100 per cent of its manufacturing waste from landfills by 2030. PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Michelin is actively working to recycle, reuse and repurpose industrial materials to divert from landfills with a goal of diverting 100 per cent of its manufacturing waste from landfills by 2030. They are also actively working on reducing CO2 emissions by 50 per cent and reducing energy consumption by 37 per cent, also by 2030.

“Since 2019, our Bridgewater plant has been diverting 100 per cent of its manufacturing waste to alternate streams, and our plants in Waterville and Pictou County are on track to do the same,” says Mutch. “Our Nova Scotia operations have already reduced total emissions by 38 per cent, so we’re on track to meeting our goal. We’ve dedicated energy managers across our three facilities in Nova Scotia to help us achieve these goals.”

Most recently, the company has engaged with The Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment to explore other opportunities for sustainable and clean energy solutions, as well as learn more about bio-sustainable materials.

“We recognize our people, both our current employees as well as future employees, rely on our commitment to sustainability, social responsibility and diversity. It plays a very important role in our business.”

Michelin is working with Lehigh Technologies to develop and focus on end-of-life tires and how they can use those tires in their manufacturing processes. Michelin also recognizes a shift in the market towards more sustainable transportation and is already working on products for electric vehicles.

Simply put, investors and customers expect Michelin to be moving forward sustainably, says Mutch.


To hear more content about building business sustainability in our communities, visit the Point to Point Podcast.