Sustainability Is Good for Business, New Survey Shows

Nearly two-thirds of senior executives said environment-friendly initiatives help boost revenue

Plants with a paper bag on top
The majority of consumers are at least open to changing their shopping habits due to concerns for the planet. Getty Images
Headshot of Paul Hiebert

Going green doesn’t mean a company’s bottom line has to suffer. Evidence suggests the opposite is true, according to new research from global consulting firm, Capgemini.

In a survey involving 750 senior executives at various consumer product and retail organizations located around the globe, results found that 77% of company leaders said sustainability initiatives have increased consumer loyalty. In addition, 69% said these programs increase brand value, while 63% indicated they boost total revenue.

“So far, many organizations have viewed sustainability as a bolt-on,” said Kees Jacobs, vice president of consumer goods and retail at Capgemini, in a statement. “However, when baked into an organization’s mission and purpose, sustainability has the potential to entirely change an organization’s relationship with its customers and partners.”


Much this comes down to changes in consumer sentiment. Additional data from Capgemini reveals that 42% of global consumers have already changed their purchase preferences based on either social, economic or environmental impact, while 37% are open to the idea of shifting their shopping habits for similar reasons.

Although the CPG industry remains a major source of plastic waste, many companies are taking steps to reduce their impact.

Last week, for instance, Dole Packaged Foods pledged to eliminate its use of fossil-based plastic packaging by 2025 and become carbon neutral by 2030. Both PepsiCo and Kimberly-Clark have recently issued similar promises to diminish their environmental footprint, too. PepsiCo plans to reduce its use of virgin plastic across its beverage portfolio by 35% in the next five years, while Kimberly-Clark is adjusting its approach to using the Earth’s resources.

“Kimberly-Clark’s success is dependent on innovating new ways to give consumers the essentials they need while safeguarding natural systems and the life they support,” said Lisa Morden, Kimberly-Clark’s vice president of safety, sustainability and occupational health, in a statement. “That means eliminating waste and recovering resources; protecting forests of high carbon, biodiversity, and cultural value; cutting greenhouse gas emissions in line with climate science; and building strong water stewardship practices where it matters most.”

Meanwhile, startups such as the toilet paper brand Who Gives a Crap, which makes its product using either bamboo or recycled paper, are challenging the status quo. In a recent report from the environmental advocacy group Natural Resources Defense Council, the organization gave Who Gives A Crap a grade of A+ on its tissue scorecard for not relying on virgin forest fiber. Kimberly-Clark’s Cottonelle Ultra, which does not use recycled material, received an F.

Major manufacturers from Nestlé to Coca-Cola to Procter & Gamble are also in the process of redesigning their product packaging to be more environmentally friendly. Many of these same companies are also working with a service called Loop, which aims to create a marketplace for brands and consumers willing to reuse packaging that stores household goods, from mouthwash to disinfecting wipes, as opposed to either recycling or discarding it.

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@hiebertpaul Paul Hiebert is a CPG reporter at Adweek, where he focuses on data-driven stories that help illustrate changes in consumer behavior and sentiment.