Sustainable Business Practices in France

Sustainable Business Practices in France

Among businesses of all sizes, France remains a global leader in the realm of sustainability, from fashion to the food industry and beyond.

In our current era of climate change, rampant pollution, and massive amounts of waste, finding sustainable solutions is more important than ever before. As such, corporations of all sizes can no longer afford to ignore the issue of sustainability, although some companies are more active than others when it comes to social responsibility. Among businesses of all sizes, France remains a global leader in the realm of sustainability, from fashion to the food industry and beyond.

In fact, in a Food Sustainability Index rating in late 2018, France came out on top as the world’s most food sustainable country. The country’s food waste legislation, introduced in 2016, is a major factor in France’s food sustainability win. Compared to the average American, who waste approximately 95 kilograms of food every year, French citizens waste 67.2 kilograms per person. Restaurants, grocery stores, and similar businesses have food waste policies in place that help contribute to France’s low numbers.

But how can you make sure that your favourite brands and shops are mindful of their waste and other environmental factors? Whether you’re a conscious consumer or a prospective employee looking for a job that aligns with your personal beliefs, how do you determine a company’s commitment to sustainability? France is among one of the most sustainable countries in the world, and there are several factors to consider when evaluating a company to get a sense of their corporate social responsibility goals.

French Climate Change Policies

Along with food waste reduction policies, France is a global leader when it comes to other types of sustainability measures. For instance, the French constitution was amended in early 2019 with the passage of the Action Plan for the Business Companies’ Growth and Transformation (Loi PACTE). The law revises the definition of corporate purpose, and requires that companies consider the “social and environmental stakes of their activities.” This is likely to usher in a new era of corporate responsibility with a focus on sustainable initiatives.

Interestingly, the concept of sustainability is nothing new. Beginning in the 1800s, during England’s Industrial Revolution, the idea of protecting natural resources was widely touted by philosophers, including John Stuart Mill and Adam Smith. But it wasn’t until 1970 that the world celebrated its first Earth Day, and many further governmental initiatives related to sustainability followed.

One of the most notable of these initiatives in the modern era is the Paris Climate Agreement. The negotiations that produced the landmark agreement aimed to assist governments in addressing the effects of climate change and the agreement was signed by 174 countries as well as the EU as a whole. Unfortunately, France fell short of its emission reduction goals in 2016 and is now facing a potential lawsuit from four environmental organizations. Climate change-related legal action against a country is nothing new; similar lawsuits are underway in Canada, the U.K., and Belgium.

Implementing a Sustainable Business Model

Within French businesses, corporate purpose and social responsibility must have a long-term focus. And although the idea of corporate sustainability may be seen as a burdensome endeavour, the truth is much more positive. Sustainable business models benefit shareholders, employees, and consumers alike, in addition to the planet. The adoption of sustainable practices may also allow companies to be better prepared in the face of environmental risks, including natural disasters.

According to Washington State University, there are several guidelines that businesses should keep in mind when incorporating long-term sustainable strategies. First, any environmental and social sustainability issues relevant to the business must be identified. Then, those issues must be incorporated into the company’s long-term strategy. The final step is communicating the approach to sustainability to all relevant parties, from shareholders to vendors and business partners.

At the consumer level, these guidelines can also serve as a starting point for identifying businesses that are committed to sustainability. Factors and policies to look for include company-wide recycling programs, water conservation efforts, energy efficiency, and humane animal care where applicable.

Innovations in Sustainability

If the trends of recent years are any indication, industries in France are poised to continue their overarching commitment to sustainability. Many of the country’s stadiums and multipurpose venues, including the Parc Olympique Lyonnais (Parc OL) stadium, have switched to LED lighting, which can improve energy efficiency by up to 80%. And when a venue utilizes less energy, greenhouse gas emissions are greatly reduced.

Another sustainable practice that can be implemented at the corporate level is the reduction of paper waste. Beginning in 2020, the law will require government bodies and authorities to procure at least 40% recycled paper. Additionally, the consumption of office paper by the state is to be cut by 30% during the same timeframe.

Along with government bodies, French businesses have made several strides in reducing paper consumption and eliminating waste in recent years, such as switching to digital record-keeping. But making the switch can be problematic, especially when it comes to sensitive information. Paper shredding services may be the solution, helping companies dispose of paper records in a secure and environmentally responsible manner. When coupled with digital data collection and an increase in recycled paper procurement, secure paper shredding can be the final piece in a company’s paper waste reduction puzzle.

Final Thoughts

Climate change is a hotbed issue in France and around the world, and businesses are at the forefront of the policy changes necessary to address the problem. From major corporations to small, family-owned shops, sustainability should serve as the cornerstone of any responsible business model. And consumers should never hesitate to investigate the sustainability commitment of their favourite brands and businesses.


Guest Article was written by Dan Mathews

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