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The path to a greener tomorrow: Sustainability trends shaping the business landscape in 2024


The path to a greener tomorrow: Sustainability trends shaping the business landscape in 2024

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No longer regarded as an empty buzzword, sustainability has been high on businesses’ list of priorities for years now. The concept has evolved a lot over time, under the influence of a wide range of environmental, socioeconomic and political factors. New practices and strategies have come to address major global challenges like climate change, pollution, the degradation of the natural world, and poverty, adding extra layers of complexity in the process.  

Since each year brings further advances in the field and offers companies new opportunities to move forward on the path of sustainable development, it becomes crucial for all stakeholders to keep abreast of these changes. In doing so, businesses can more easily navigate the highly intricate and ever-evolving world of sustainability and adhere to regulatory requirements and industry standards, all while ensuring a greener tomorrow for generations to come. 

So, as we step into 2024, let’s take a look at the sustainability trends that are set to leave their mark on the business landscape. 

Innovations in recycling technology

Recycling is one area of sustainable development that has experienced a fast development in recent years and continues to evolve rapidly, being driven by ongoing tech advances. Innovations in the field are making it easier for companies in all industries to optimise waste management practices and increase their recycling rates. 

Apart from a variety of recycling machines and equipment like balers, compactors, shredders or stainless steel can crushers from Miltek in NZ, companies now have a wide range of cutting-edge tools and solutions at their disposal to improve recycling. The tedious task of waste sorting is being facilitated by smart bins that can identify different materials and separate them accordingly.  

Artificial intelligence (AI) also promises to become a game-changer in recycling, with an increasing number of waste facilities implementing AI-powered automated sorting systems to increase the efficiency and accuracy of the recycling process. 

3D printing equipment can give plastic waste new life by turning it into new products, thus reducing the demand for virgin materials. Furthermore, the global market for biodegradable plastics is expected to grow considerably, further reducing the quantity of plastic that gets dumped in landfills. 

E-waste recycling

As the use of digital devices increases worldwide, so does the number of discarded electronics. According to the World Health Organization, electronic waste also known as e-waste represents the fastest-growing waste stream globally, growing three times more quickly than the global population. At this rate, the planet might one day become engulfed in discarded electronic devices if nothing gets done about it. 

That’s why e-waste recycling is expected to be high on the sustainability agenda this year. As the two largest electronic manufacturers in the world, the European Union and China are going to focus their efforts on employing new technologies to recover precious and base metals from these products and limiting the negative impact of e-waste on the environment. 

Minimising food waste 

It’s not just electronic waste that poses a major threat to the well-being of the planet, but also the vast amount of food that finds its way into the bin and ends up in landfills. It is estimated that approximately a third of the total global food production is lost or wasted, accounting for almost 1.3 billion tons of food every year. 

Apart from being a social and humanitarian issue that contributes to world hunger and a plethora of associated problems, wasting food is also detrimental to the health of the environment. Food waste generates large quantities of methane, being responsible for 6.7% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide and having a major contribution to climate change. 

It comes as no surprise that more companies are beginning to take action in this respect, developing initiatives and implementing strategies that aim to address the problem at the source and prevent food waste. This means we’ll see more businesses embracing composting or partnering up with food banks to drive positive environmental and social impact. 

Growing consumer awareness 

Consumers today are more aware of the environmental issues that our planet is facing, and they’re also more interested in making a positive difference in this respect. However, a large percentage of the population remains oblivious to these challenges or doesn’t know how to respond to them.

This year, there’s probably going to be more focus on customer involvement and education in this respect, with governmental organisations coming in the aid of eco-conscious consumers by launching educational campaigns and businesses incorporating customer education into their marketing strategy. 

Greater push towards a circular economy

Circular economy is by no means a new concept, being part of the conversations in the public sphere for years now. It basically describes an economic system where the focus falls on recycling and reusing materials in order to minimise waste and encourage the sustainable use of resources. 

However, it’s only starting to dawn on stakeholders in the business world how crucial it is to work towards the development of a circular economy to maintain a healthy environment where everyone can thrive. Governments around the world have already implemented regulations and long-term plans to set the foundation for a circular economy.  

With more resources at their disposal and support from governments, 2024 is the year when businesses will get more actively involved in advancing circular economy efforts. This can take the shape of strategic partnerships to optimise supply chain management, focusing on developing products with high degrees of reusability, ensuring resource efficiency and so on.  

Final note 

2024 is already shaping up to be an exciting year for eco-conscious endeavours, with new technologies, solutions and strategies giving businesses the possibility to achieve their ESG goals and gain a competitive advantage in their respective fields. Although these trends are expected to be at the forefront of sustainable development, more innovations are likely to emerge in the months to come.