How firms innovate their business models for sustainability

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

Historically, most companies advanced their sustainability credentials through reporting, efficiency or even just good marketing. Approaches often involved streamlining processes or products to achieve a smaller environmental footprint.

These innovations are worthwhile and move us closer to sustainable development, but they don’t address the underlying value structure of a company. They are incrementally better, but not transformative or good enough to change our take-make-waste economy.

SustainAbility recently began an analysis of 85 companies and their business models to better understand what innovation in this area looks like. We plan to release a full report this fall with all of our findings, but wanted to share early results and a few common trends that have emerged.

Business model innovation, for example, is more likely to occur at smaller companies. A focus on consumer consumption also is making an impact on corporate business models as firms find ways to create value without using more resources.

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