In recent years, businesses have tried to move their supply chains more sustainable in an effort to minimise climate change. Such strategies strive to reduce waste and emissions through switching to renewable energy i.e. aim to ‘do more with less’. Businesses will create more economic value by polluting less and using fewer natural resources i.e. ‘do less harm’.
The trend is that consumers want to go well beyond sustainability and ‘do more good’ for the planet. We believe sustainability alone is not enough as sustainability us giving back only what we take. In contrast, regenerative means giving back much more than we take.
We can learn from nature. For example, forest trees share information and nutrients using a deep network of soil fungi. They also provide shelter for animals and insects.
Businesses should be able to reinvent their supply chains and business practices to operate as regenerative businesses; giving back to society and the planet.
A sustainable firm seeks to reduce its ecological footprint, whereas a regenerative company seeks to increase its social and ecological handprint. Such businesses can achieve greater financial performance and an impact, than their sustainability-focused peers.
A regenerative business focuses on regenerating people, places and the planet. It acknowledges its place in the entire system where it operates – its community, its industry, its resources – and uses that knowledge of interdependence in its strategic decision-making.
A regenerative product is made from material that is beneficial to the planet as it grows and at its end of life e.g. hemp. They are also fair to people through payments for goods and wages.
A sustainable product could be recycled plastic. Clothing can be made from recycled plastic which ticks the sustainable resources box, but the end of life is not good for the environment.
A regenerative business should undertake initiatives outside their normal business activities that offset any harm the business may do. Examples of such initiatives may include rewilding, ocean habitat restoration or working with local communities.
For a business to be considered regenerative, its products must be sustainable as a minimum, and it must also undertake several regenerative business initiatives.