In 2017 I stated “my leadership opportunity over the next two years is to not only change the way organizations repurpose their physical assets, but also influence the mechanisms in which they use to report on their repurposing activities”. I planned to accomplish this by assisting my organization to enable the data-driven company eevig CSR Solutions (eevig) to influence a broad market of diverse global corporations regarding asset repurposing. Pushing a tool that facilitates organizations to extend the life cycle of unneeded items, divert them from the landfill to be used by needful entities such as registered charities, nonprofits, students, refugees and veterans, I derived the below mechanisms to measure success.
-Initial buy in from customers
-Tonnage of assets diverted from landfills
-Number of recipients of repurposed assets
Unfortunately, after encountering multiple issues that eventually resulted in me departing from the company the (1) tonnage of assets diverted from landfills and (2) number of recipients of repurposed assets was ZERO. This was a hard lesson on start-up life that may not be as bad as it seems, but nonetheless a valuable learning experiencing. Though two of my mechanisms to measure success did not yield anticipated results over the past year and a half, it was encouraging to see the immense initial buy in from potential platform customers.
Over the past few years it has been uplifting to see first-hand how increasingly corporations are realizing the importance of sustainability through repurposing resources. Corporations are also slowly realizing the reuse of physical assets has a direct positive impact on sustainability and for this reason amongst others sustainability reporting is crucial for any corporation intending to monitor its internal sustainability activities.
Discovering that numerous corporations still pile up their disregarded assets such as computers, printers, photocopiers, old phones, and tablets in warehouses, each year more organizations are eagerly receptive to the idea of asset repurposing. Surprisingly, I learned that several corporations were just ignorant and not aware of the availability of more sustainable options to handle assets at the end of their apparent lifecycle. The perceived cost of enlisting services to assist in asset repurposing was a strong deterrent for most corporations; however, once they were informed the cost was minimal many were very receptive. Informing corporations of the benefits of sustainability and the consequences of sticking to their old ways as well as projecting emerging government policies were great motivators for some corporations to adopt alternatives and was a successful element of my leadership opportunity.
For companies, sustainability reporting is critical to maintaining transparency (White, 2005), corporate stakeholders have become increasingly interested in the reporting processes as sustainable development goes a long way towards improving a company’s image, competitiveness, and performance. The use of sustainability reporting guidelines by companies is a way toward achieving optimal sustainable practices. Consequently, I provided ideas concerning sustainability reporting to corporations in hope that it would redirect them toward more effective sustainability reporting. Though, I did not succeed in changing the way corporations repurpose or influence on a large scale the way companies report on their sustainability activities. I was able to make some companies more aware concerning the importance of repurposing and I fully intend on continuing my objectives until positive repurposing changes are made throughout a large segment of corporations.
White, G. B. (2005). How to Report a Company’s Sustainability Activities. Management Accounting Quarterly, 7(1), 36-43.