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Plastics Today, September 2015

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sustainability outlook Plasticstoday.com Global Plastics RePoRt 2015 33 porated sustainability into their culture and understand that it can be a source of competitive advantage." Similarly, according to Sheila Bonini and Steven Swartz, the authors of "Profit with Purpose: How organizing for sus- tainability can benefit the bottom line," which appeared in the 2014 summer issue of McKinsey on Sustainability & Resource Productivity, sustainability pro- grams are not only strongly correlated with good financial performance, they also play a role in creating it. The article went on to cite the recent research by three economists (two from Harvard and one from the London Business School) suggesting that sustainability initiatives can actually help to improve financial performance. According to the authors: "The researchers examined two matched groups of 90 companies. The companies operated in the same sectors, were of similar size and also had similar capital structures, operating performance and growth opportunities. The only significant difference: One group had created governance structures related to sustainability and made substantive, long-term investments; the other group had not. According to the authors' calcu- lations, an investment of $1 at the begin- ning of 1993 in a value-weighted port- folio of high-sustainability companies would have grown to $22.60 by the end of 2010, compared with $15.40 for the portfolio of low-sustainability companies. The high-sustainability companies also did better with respect to return on assets (34 percent) and return on equity (16 percent)." And in 2012, the MIT Sloan Manage- ment Review published a special report, "The Business of Sustainability," on the findings and insights from the first annual Business of Sustainability Sur- vey. This survey found that although the overwhelming majority of compa- nies still had to "commit aggressively to sustainability," once companies actually do commit, they find they start to reap "substantial rewards." However, the survey also found a considerable gap between intent and action: Although some 60% of the responding companies said they were actively "building aware- ness" within the company of the sustain- ability agenda, in most cases an overall plan was lacking "for attacking sustain- ability and delivering results." The message is clear: The economic benefits are there, and some companies are successfully making sustainability work for them. Others could do more, much more, but they just need to figure out how. At a conference hosted by Mott MacDonald Chairman Keith Howells in London on making business sense of sustainability, speakers offered a number of pointers on how to do just that. Among their recommendations: "Scrutinize why you do things, not just what and how. Be clear what your core values are and be consistent in all you do, right through your supply chain. " Another was: "Integrate sustainability into business strategy and execution. Sus- tainability is all about integrated think- ing—opportunities, interconnections,

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