By Lachlan Feggans, Director, Sustainability – Corporate and Asia-Pacific, Brambles
Over the past decade, companies across most industrialised economies have looked to minimise their impact on the environment, spurred by growing expectations from climate-conscious consumers, communities and investors. In the main, efforts have focused on improving efficiency, reducing waste and putting responsible social policies in place that align with the broader shift in public sentiment. But is it enough?
More recently, there’s been a growing divergence in the way companies approach sustainability. Leaders in the field have shifted from taking incremental steps towards doing less harm (or being less bad than the competition) to reshaping their business to make a meaningful, positive impact on people and the planet. The concept of regeneration is now at the frontier of business ESG strategies.
Regeneration steps beyond zero impact and is a unifying principle to address the intensifying environmental and social challenges we face. It recognises decarbonisation alone is not sufficient to address the degenerative environmental impacts of a take, make and waste linear business model.
As Andrew Morlet of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation said, “We need a bigger idea. One that targets the root causes of the climate crisis, biodiversity loss, waste and pollution. And one that can scale – fast”.
Circular business models regenerate the resources they depend on and keep materials in use, eliminating waste from the beginning. They move from degenerative systems that waste resources to regenerative models that restore nature and strengthen society. Importantly, circular businesses don’t need to retrofit sustainability because it’s built into the business model.
As an organisation with global operations and footprint, Brambles is leveraging our own circular business model to create a nature-positive economy with reuse, resilience and regeneration at its core. In addition to bringing forward our net-zero deadline by a decade, Brambles’ recently announced Climate Positive targets to accelerate our vision to pioneer truly regenerative supply chains that break the link between consumption and harm to the environment and society. Ultimately, we aim to put back in more than we take from the world.
With regeneration, our guiding principle, collaboration will be a key driver. Brambles has long understood the power of collaborating with our suppliers and customers to accelerate shared goals. It’s these very relationships that make the share and reuse system possible.
Across logistics, specifically the trucking industry, there are still inefficiencies to overcome and great scope to decarbonise emissions this decade – even before we see the uptake of alternative technologies (EV and hydrogen-powered vehicles, for instance) grow to sufficient maturity for immediate impact.
Instead, as operator of the world’s largest reusable pallet pooling network, Brambles is tapping into our unmatched visibility of transport networks to actively reduce inefficiencies. This is ‘systems thinking’ in action.
Finally, we believe circular innovations will be the catalyst that unlocks the technological means for transformative change.
One way we’re doing that is by turning single-use plastic waste into long-life, closed-loop products. We aim to reach a minimum of 30% recycled or upcycled material in our plastic products by 2025 and 100% by 2030.
We’re fortunate to have a long history of benefiting from our investments in circular and sustainable solutions. We’re also well connected to our customers, suppliers and industry groups and will continue to work with these stakeholders to collaborate and scale for greater impact.
Recent climate events, the pandemic and subsequent social upheaval have raised awareness of our connection to and dependency on nature for our economic prosperity, health and wellbeing. The reality is that no organisation can do everything well, so by working with other companies, we amplify our efforts. This is why Brambles is inviting our partners to join the regenerative revolution to collaborate and innovate towards a more positive future.
An excerpt of this article was published in the Australian Financial Review (8 July 2022) as part of the Sustainability Leaders List 2022, for which Brambles was named winner in the logistics category.
 ESG Environment, Social and Governance