Looking ahead to 2023, sustainability trends are expected to continue to evolve and gain momentum. Some of the top trends for the year include a focus on carbon neutrality, circular economy, sustainable supply chains, agriculture, green buildings, electric vehicles, sustainable fashion, sustainable packaging, and nature-based solutions. These trends are all driven by the need to create a more sustainable and resilient future for both humans and the environment.
One of the key themes for 2023 is the urgent need for climate action. Climate change is one of the most pressing environmental and social issues of our time, and addressing it requires bold action on multiple fronts. This includes reducing greenhouse gas emissions, protecting human health and well-being, preserving ecosystems and biodiversity, promoting sustainable development, and ensuring a livable future. Overall, the key sustainability focus in the year ahead reflects the growing recognition of the need to create a more sustainable and equitable world for all.
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2023 SUSTAINABILITY TRENDS TO KEEP AN EYE ON
The emphasis on sustainability continues to grow worldwide as governments and municipalities strengthen their ESG commitments and legislation. Let’s take a look at some of the top 2023 sustainability trends for businesses:
1. Carbon Neutrality
Carbon neutrality is important because carbon emissions are a major contributor to climate change, which is one of the most pressing global challenges we face today. By achieving carbon neutrality, we can reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere and slow the rate of global warming.
What is Carbon Neutrality?
Carbon neutrality refers to the state of having a net zero carbon footprint, which means that an entity such as a company, organization, or individual has balanced its carbon emissions with an equivalent amount of carbon removal or offsetting.
There are many ways to achieve carbon neutrality, including:
- Reducing Emissions: One of the primary ways to achieve carbon neutrality is to reduce emissions by improving energy efficiency, transitioning to renewable energy sources, and using low-carbon transportation options.
- Carbon Offsetting: Carbon offsetting involves investing in projects that reduce or remove carbon emissions, such as reforestation, renewable energy development, and methane capture.
- Carbon Capture and Storage: Carbon capture and storage (CCS) involves capturing carbon emissions from industrial processes or power generation and storing them underground.
- Carbon Removal: Carbon removal technologies such as direct air capture, ocean fertilization, and afforestation can remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Achieving carbon neutrality requires a commitment to sustainability and a willingness to take action to reduce carbon emissions. Many companies and organizations have pledged to become carbon neutral in the coming years as part of their efforts to combat climate change.
2. Circular Economy
The concept of a circular economy, where resources are kept in use (“circulating”) for as long as possible, is gaining traction in the business world. Companies are starting to see the value in designing products and systems that can be easily disassembled, repaired, refurbished, and remanufactured, rather than being thrown away after their initial use. We expect to see more businesses adopt circular sustainable business models and work to close the loop on their material flows.
The circular economy is becoming increasingly popular:
- Resource Scarcity: As the global population continues to grow and natural resources become increasingly scarce, there is a growing need to find more efficient and sustainable ways to use resources.
- Waste Reduction: The circular economy model aims to minimize waste and reduce the amount of materials that are sent to landfills or incinerated, which can have negative environmental and health impacts.
- Economic Benefits: The circular economy can generate economic benefits by creating new business opportunities and jobs in industries such as recycling, repair, and refurbishment.
- Climate Change: The circular economy can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the amount of virgin materials that need to be extracted and processed.
- Consumer Demand: There is growing consumer demand for sustainable and environmentally-friendly products and services, which is driving companies to adopt circular economy practices.
Circular economy is seen as a more sustainable and efficient economic model that can help to reduce waste, conserve natural resources, and mitigate climate change. As consumers become more aware of the environmental impacts of their consumption patterns, and as businesses seek to reduce their environmental footprint, it is likely that the circular economy will continue to gain popularity in the years ahead.
3. Sustainable Supply Chains
Sustainable supply chains are designed and managed with consideration for social sustainability, environmental, and economic sustainability. This involves addressing issues such as responsible sourcing, ethical labor practices, and reducing the environmental impact of production and transportation.
Sustainable supply chains have become increasingly important for several reasons:
- Corporate Social Responsibility: Many companies recognize the importance of acting responsibly and ethically in their business operations, including their supply chains.
- Stakeholder Pressure: Stakeholders such as customers, investors, and regulators are increasingly demanding transparency and accountability in supply chain practices.
- Risk Management: Sustainable supply chains can help to manage risk by ensuring that suppliers are compliant with relevant regulations and standards, and by reducing the risk of supply chain disruptions.
- Cost Savings: Sustainable supply chain practices can help to reduce costs by improving efficiency, reducing waste, and minimizing the risk of reputational damage.
Examples of sustainable supply chain practices include:
- Ethical Sourcing: Ensuring that raw materials are sourced from suppliers that operate ethically and adhere to relevant environmental and labor standards.
- Supply Chain Transparency: Providing transparency and traceability throughout the supply chain, from raw materials to finished products.
- Sustainable Production: Using environmentally-friendly production methods and materials to minimize the environmental impact of production.
- Green Logistics: Reducing the environmental impact of transportation by optimizing routes, using low-emission vehicles, and minimizing waste.
Overall, sustainable supply chains are becoming increasingly important as companies seek to manage risk, reduce costs, and meet stakeholder expectations. By adopting sustainable supply chain practices, companies can not only improve their environmental and social performance but also enhance their reputation and competitiveness in the marketplace.
4. Regenerative Agriculture
Regenerative agriculture is an approach to farming that aims to improve soil health, increase biodiversity, and enhance ecosystem services such as water retention and carbon sequestration. It involves adopting practices that mimic natural ecosystems and work with the natural processes of the soil and surrounding environment.
Regenerative Agriculture Practices
- No-till or reduced-till farming: This involves minimizing soil disturbance during planting and cultivation to help preserve soil structure and minimize erosion.
- Cover crops: Planting cover crops in between cash crops can help to improve soil health by adding organic matter and reducing erosion.
- Crop rotation: Rotating crops can help to prevent soil-borne diseases and pests, as well as improve soil fertility and structure.
- Agroforestry: Incorporating trees or shrubs into farming systems can help to improve soil health, and provide other ecosystem services.
- Livestock integration: Integrating livestock into farming systems can help to improve soil health by increasing nutrient cycling and reducing the need for synthetic fertilizers.
Regenerative agriculture is gaining popularity as a response to the negative impacts of conventional farming practices such as soil degradation, biodiversity loss, and environmental pollution. By improving soil health and ecosystem services, this can also help to sequester carbon and mitigate climate change.
In addition to the environmental benefits, regenerative agriculture can also have social and economic benefits for farmers, such as reducing input costs, increasing yields, and improving resilience to weather events.
5. Green Buildings
Green buildings, also known as sustainable buildings or eco-friendly buildings, are designed and constructed with a focus on minimizing their environmental impact and maximizing their energy efficiency. This includes reducing energy and water consumption, improving indoor air quality, and minimizing waste.
Green Buildings Designs & Features
- Energy-efficient lighting and HVAC systems: These systems use less energy and can be powered by renewable energy sources such as solar or wind power.
- Water conservation features: Green buildings often include water-efficient fixtures such as low-flow toilets and faucets, as well as rainwater harvesting systems to reduce water consumption.
- Sustainable materials: Using sustainable materials such as recycled or reclaimed wood, low-VOC paints, and non-toxic insulation can help to reduce the environmental impact of building materials.
- Green roofs and walls: These features can help to reduce the urban heat island effect, improve air quality, and provide additional insulation.
- Passive solar design: Building orientation and design can be optimized to maximize the use of natural light and heat, reducing the need for artificial lighting and heating.
Benefits Of Green Buildings
- Lower energy costs: Energy-efficient design and technology can help to reduce energy consumption and lower energy bills.
Improved indoor air quality: Green buildings often have better indoor air quality due to the use of non-toxic materials and improved ventilation.
- Reduced environmental impact: By using sustainable materials and reducing energy and water consumption, green buildings have a smaller environmental footprint than conventional buildings.
- Enhanced occupant comfort: Green buildings can provide a more comfortable and healthier living or working environment, which can improve occupant health and productivity.
- Enhanced marketability: As demand for sustainable buildings continues to grow, green buildings are becoming more attractive to tenants, buyers, and investors.
Overall, green buildings offer a sustainable and cost-effective solution to the environmental challenges posed by the built environment. By designing and constructing buildings with a focus on energy efficiency, water conservation, and sustainable materials, we can reduce our environmental impact and improve our quality of life.
6. Electric Vehicles
Electric vehicles (EVs) are vehicles that are powered by electricity stored in batteries, rather than by internal combustion engines that burn fossil fuels. There are two main types of EVs: battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).
BEVs are powered entirely by electricity and have no combustion engine, while PHEVs have both an electric motor and a combustion engine that can work together or independently to power the vehicle.
Features & Benefits of Electric Vehicles
- Lower emissions: EVs emit little to no greenhouse gasses, depending on the source of electricity. This makes them a more environmentally friendly alternative to conventional gasoline-powered vehicles.
- Lower operating costs: EVs are generally cheaper to operate than gasoline-powered vehicles, as they require less maintenance and electricity is cheaper than gasoline. Additionally, many governments offer incentives such as tax credits or rebates for purchasing an EV.
- Quiet and smooth driving: EVs are quieter and smoother to drive than traditional gasoline vehicles because they have fewer moving parts and don’t require shifting gears.
- Range anxiety: One of the main concerns with EVs is range anxiety – the fear of running out of battery power. However, most modern EVs have a range of over 200 miles on a single charge, and with the growing network of charging stations, range anxiety is becoming less of an issue.
- Charging infrastructure: As EVs become more popular, charging infrastructure is expanding rapidly, with more charging stations being installed in public places, businesses, and homes.
Overall, electric vehicles offer a more sustainable and efficient alternative to conventional gasoline-powered vehicles. They are becoming increasingly popular as governments and consumers seek to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition to clean energy.
7. Sustainable Fashion
Sustainable fashion is an approach to fashion that aims to minimize the negative social and environmental impacts of the fashion industry. This includes reducing waste and pollution, using sustainable materials, and promoting ethical and fair labor practices.
Features & Trends in Sustainable Fashion
- Use of sustainable materials: Sustainable fashion aims to use materials that are environmentally friendly and ethically sourced, such as organic cotton, recycled polyester, and bamboo.
- Zero-waste production: Zero-waste production techniques involve using every scrap of material in the manufacturing process, minimizing waste and reducing the environmental impact of production.
- Circular fashion: Circular fashion is a closed-loop system that aims to keep resources in use for a longer term, reducing waste and environmental impact. This includes initiatives such as renting, reselling, or recycling clothes.
- Slow fashion: Slow fashion promotes a more sustainable approach to fashion by encouraging consumers to buy less and choose high-quality, durable clothing that will last longer.
- Ethical labor practices: Sustainable fashion brands prioritize fair labor practices, ensuring that workers are paid a fair wage and work in safe and healthy conditions.
- Transparency and traceability: Many sustainable fashion brands are transparent about their supply chain and manufacturing processes, allowing consumers to make informed choices about the products they purchase.
Sustainable Fashion Benefits
- Reduced environmental impact: Sustainable fashion aims to reduce the environmental impact of the fashion industry, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, and waste.
- Better working conditions: Ethical labor practices ensure that workers are paid fairly and work in safe and healthy conditions.
- Increased consumer awareness: Sustainable fashion encourages consumers to be more mindful of the impact of their clothing choices, leading to a more informed and responsible consumer culture.
- Promotion of creativity and innovation: Sustainable fashion challenges designers to find new and innovative ways to create clothing while minimizing environmental impact and promoting ethical practices.
8. Sustainable Packaging
Sustainable packaging refers to packaging materials and designs that minimize the environmental impact of packaging. This includes reducing waste and pollution, using environmentally friendly materials, and promoting the circular economy.
Features & Tends in Sustainable Packaging
- Use of sustainable materials: Sustainable packaging aims to use materials that are environmentally friendly and can be recycled or composted, such as bioplastics, recycled paper, and cardboard.
- Minimalist design: Minimalist packaging designs aim to reduce the amount of material used in packaging, leading to less waste and lower environmental impact.
- Reusable and refillable packaging: Reusable and refillable packaging can help to reduce waste and promote the circular economy by keeping packaging in use for longer.
- Biodegradable and compostable packaging: Biodegradable and compostable packaging can break down naturally in the environment, reducing pollution and waste.
- Packaging optimization: Packaging optimization involves designing packaging to be as efficient as possible, reducing the amount of material used and minimizing waste.
9. Nature-Based-Solutions (NBS)
Nature-based solutions (NBS) are actions that work with nature to address societal challenges, such as climate change, and water security. This approach involves the use of natural ecosystems, processes to provide services that benefit both humans and the environment.
Examples of Nature-Based-Solutions (NBS)
- Forest conservation and restoration: Forests provide many benefits, such as regulating the climate, purifying the air and water, and providing habitat for wildlife. Forest conservation and restoration can help to address climate change.
- Sustainable agriculture and land management: Sustainable agriculture and land management practices can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and improve soil health.
- Green infrastructure: Green infrastructure, such as green roofs, parks, and wetlands, can help to manage stormwater, improve air quality, and provide habitat for wildlife.
- Coastal and marine ecosystems restoration: Coastal and marine ecosystems, such as coral reefs and mangroves, provide important benefits, such as protecting coastlines from storms, providing habitat for fish and other marine species, and supporting tourism.
10. Climate Action
Climate action is a focus because climate change is one of the most pressing environmental and social issues of our time. Climate change is caused by the release of greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere, which trap heat and lead to global warming. This warming has a range of impacts, such as rising sea levels, more frequent and intense weather events, and changes to ecosystems.
Here are some reasons why climate action is important:
- Mitigating the impacts of climate change: Climate action aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which can help to slow the rate of climate change and mitigate some of its impacts.
- Protecting human health and well-being: Climate change has a range of impacts on human health and well-being, such as increased heat stress, reduced air and water quality, and the spread of infectious diseases. Climate action can help to protect human health and well-being by reducing these impacts.
- Preserving ecosystems and biodiversity: Climate change is already having significant impacts on ecosystems and biodiversity, such as coral bleaching, melting glaciers, and changes to migration patterns of animals. Climate action can help to preserve and protect these systems.
- Promoting sustainable development: Climate action can also support sustainable development by promoting renewable energy, creating green jobs, and reducing poverty.
- Ensuring a livable future: Ultimately, climate action is important to ensure a livable future for current and future generations. Without action, the impacts of climate change will continue to worsen, leading to significant social, economic, and environmental consequences.
Climate action is a focus because it is critical to addressing the urgent and significant threat of climate change. By reducing greenhouse gas emissions, protecting human health and well-being, preserving ecosystems and, promoting sustainable development, and ensuring a livable future, climate action is essential for creating a more sustainable and resilient world.
Improve Your Sustainability Efforts for 2023
Overall, we expect to see a continued focus on sustainability and resource efficiency in 2023, as businesses and consumers increasingly recognize the need to reduce waste and protect the environment. CheckSammy is committed to playing our part in this effort and helping our customers continue to meet their sustainability goals. Interested in seeing how we can help support your goals? Contact us today.
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