Deeds Over Words: Sustainability in Business

With exhilarating attention that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has been acquiring in the mass media for the past decade, 90% of S&P 500 Index companies published sustainability reports in 2019. Although the initial purpose of the document is to provide organizations with the means to address the current CSR efforts and communicate their contribution to the environment and community, it has also turned into somewhat an essential validity trademark. Ironically enough, as shown by practice, the latter oftentimes does not guarantee the quality of the content.

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What's the drill?

At Bit, another highly-cherished value - other than affinity with the emerging technologies and team devotion - is the pursuit of integrity. Ambitious sustainability targets displayed in 25 pt font size, green-shade layouts, and abundance of the adjectives in the spirit of 'net-zero', 'renewable', and 'low carbon' seem to add credibility, although only at the first glance. In the majority of cases, the truth behind colorful PDF pages turns out to be rather daunting when it comes to unleashing the actual state of affairs. As such, we arrived at an idea to embrace sustainability, tech, and authenticity rolled into one, so that you wouldn't have to distinguish between a pretentiously green logo and tangible input yourself. Readers - dive into compliance of industry giants that deploy innovations on a mission to genuinely tackle environmental issues, fellow companies - get inspired by the real-life action.

Adidas

In the past years, the thought of Adidas has not been inducing a mere association with three parallel stripes. Whether due to the fact the sportswear giant has vigorously moved forward in the context of branding and product line, or, maybe, as a generic consequence of placing the innovation as a top priority, Adidas is now more of a mindset mentality on the lookout for the future than an apparel manufacturer. Complying with the statement "sustainability is an integral component of our strategy", the corporation has recently invested some round numbers in Spinnova - a Finnish sustainable textile company - to produce clothing made out of wood and agricultural waste. As an ideal supplement for Adidas' ambitious sustainability strategy, the joint effort of both entities aims to incorporate cellulose-based materials on an unprecedentedly large scale, thus contributing to cost efficiency, and environmental friendliness.

Yet, the fight against plastic waste does not stop here: in April 2021, Adidas released a sneak peek of Stan Smith Mylo, the first shoe to be made using a new mushroom-based material innovation that looks and feels like leather – soft, supple, but a more renewable alternative. Extracted from renewable mycelium - the underground roots of mushrooms, not only is Mylo produced using the highly efficient grow that takes less than 2 weeks but it is also cultivated using the vertical agricultural technique, allowing mycelium to grow in a space-efficient environment that increases the yield per square foot. Developed in the collaboration with Bolt Threads - a biotechnology company aspiring to create the next generation of advanced materials – the concept will serve as the next recreation of the iconic sneaker and, most importantly, as a commitment to a more sustainable future.

Maersk

In relation to the principles of sustainability, Maersk is another excellent example of how the ambitious statements and targets transcend the borders of the annual reports and manifest in real-life practices. Being among the founders of the Getting to Zero alliance, this Danish leader of the logistics sector embedded a certified carbon-neutral shipping alternative on the market on a mission to accelerate the energy transition in shipping and beyond. Currently, the company is anchored by two strategic targets for CO2: having net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050 and achieving a 60% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030 compared to 2008 levels. Sounds great, and yet what's even better is the progress done so far: through optimization of networks and technical retrofitting, focus on decarbonization has already resulted in a 46.3% relative reduction in the carbon dioxide emissions since 2008.

The future of fuels plays another significant role for net-zero emissions shipping. Throughout the course of the past two years, Maersk has conducted an extensive analysis of the available technology and fuel options and subsequently identified four primary pathways to be pursued - biodiesel, methanol (in the form of bio-methanol, and e-methanol), lignin fuels, and green ammonia. As a part of the process, a number of potential technologies turned out to pose certain risks, such as methane emissions and flammability, yet it does not obstruct the company's willingness to seek an optimal solution in the fuel transformation. As of now, the key barriers in progress are the lack of fuel infrastructure, availability of new fuels at scale, safety-related issues, and impact on the company's profitability - in other words, still quite a journey to complete. Though, the difference is that Maersk already has its boarding pass checked and a seatbelt fastened.

Nestlé

Nestle is not standing still either: in line with its title of the world's largest food & beverage company, the amplitude of proactiveness and contribution is equally balanced. In July 2021, scientists at Nestlé Research in Lausanne were intensively working with Future Meat Technologies - a Jerusalem-based biotechnology company, to unveil the potential of cultured-meat products without compromising on flavor or sustainability. The following development of a new cost-efficient proprietary technology allowed for large-scale production of non-GMO cultured-meat components extracted from the animal cells, thus minimizing the urge for land and breeding resources. The process, however, only seems to be gaining momentum as the Head of the Nestlé Institute of Material Sciences highlighted the ongoing investigation of supplementary technologies that would ensure that animal-friendly options are not only nutritious and sustainable, but also resemble meat in terms of taste, and texture.

Another major game-changing action that did not receive as much attention as it should have initially is the inauguration of the Institute of Packaging Sciences, the first-of-its-kind in the food industry. Established in 2019 as an attempt to help Nestle accelerate its efforts to incorporate functional and eco-friendly packaging options in the market, the Institute has significantly contributed to the reduction of plastic packaging waste and took a stand in addressing the global challenge of anthropogenic contamination. As the spectrum of science and technology areas stretches onto numerous dimensions, such as high-performance barrier papers, refillable or reusable packaging, and simplified packaging materials, Nestle continuously endorses the efficiency of the problem-solving process by applying a variety of approaches and innovative perspectives. 

Undoubtedly, amid the companies stated above, there is a remarkable number of other enterprises that pursue values for the sake of a meaningful change rather than a mere race for trends. Yet, the focal point here revolves around the fact that one of the most vital skills a person could have as a post-truth society member is the ability to research a sufficient amount of information and evaluate personal understanding via placing the acquired knowledge in a larger context. So, if striving for a better future can be considered a battle, may the truth, logical reasoning, and transparency be our weapon. Bit - we learn, we lead.

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