Why Regenerative Business?
The business case for sustainability has gained significant traction in recent years, elevating its position on the corporate agenda1. While it’s often perceived as maintaining the status quo, it’s essential to recognise that in the face of our current global challenges, encompassing environmental, social, and economic dimensions, sustainability alone can fall short.
Mainstream sustainability creates business value and a host of other benefits critical to short and medium-term prosperity. However, we are at the critical junction in our collective history that demands a more comprehensive and transformative approach to long-term flourishing. Put simply: it’s not enough to maintain the status quo or to do it better or faster, we must change it.
Enter regenerative business. A regenerative business goes beyond mainstream sustainability. Its operations give back to people and the planet more than it takes. The regenerative business prioritises systems thinking over LAMO thinking2 with a deliberate aim to safeguard and renew both human capital and natural resources. In this context, ‘better business’ is about acknowledging the intricate and interconnected nature of the complex ‘system of systems.’
The Benefits of Regenerative Business
Align with Evolving Citizen Preferences
By integrating regenerative principles into their operations, businesses can demonstrate their commitment to preserving natural resources and mitigating climate change, attracting a growing citizen base that prioritises ethical and eco-friendly choices and beyond – to creating nature based impact through their actions.
In fact, a significant portion of citizens, approximately 57%, are willing to modify their purchasing patterns to contribute positively towards the planet.3
Foster Innovation and Resilience
Regenerative approaches foster innovation and resilience by encouraging companies to adopt circular economy models that eliminate waste, circulate resources and regenerate nature.4 These practices can reduce costs, but notably promote creativity and adaptability, allowing businesses to stay ahead in rapidly changing market dynamics.
Enhance Brand Reputation
By focusing on creating positive impact, businesses can differentiate themselves from their competitors and become leaders in their industry. The commitment to ‘being a force for good’ not only resonates with conscious citizens but also attracts top talent and fosters meaningful partnerships and relationships with stakeholders.
Below are some actionable practices that can help kick-start your regenerative journey:
Understand Regenerative Principles
Begin by gaining a clear understanding of regenerative concepts and principles. Educate key stakeholders about the importance of regenerative practices and how they differ from mainstream sustainable approaches.
An example of a regenerative principle that a business can incorporate is implementing a closed-loop system for product manufacturing and waste management. This principle aims to eliminate waste throughout the entire product lifecycle and design products that can be reused, recycled or repurposed, whilst at the same time creating the conditions for increasing other forms of capital.
Assess Current Practices
Conduct a thorough assessment of your company’s current operations and practices. Identify areas where there are opportunities for improvement and where regenerative practices can be integrated. This assessment should encompass all aspects of the business, including supply chains, production processes, waste management, energy consumption, and community engagement.
Set Regenerative Goals
Establish specific regenerative goals that align with your company’s overall mission and values. These goals should be measurable, time-bound, and actionable. For example, achieving zero waste to landfill within a certain period of time or making a shift to renewable energy sources. At a higher level you might even think about ways to restore areas of biodiversity or aim to establish natural carbon sequestration sites under such goals.
Review Business Models
Review your products, services, processes and systems to determine how you can enhance value by incorporating regenerative approaches. For example, you could redesign a product to be more durable and repairable, to extend its lifespan. Or perhaps rethink its properties to incorporate environmentally friendly materials into the manufacturing process.
Integrate Regenerative Practices
Apply regenerative principles throughout your company’s value chain. This includes sourcing materials and services from suppliers committed to regenerative practices and promoting and adhering to circular economy concepts (designing out waste and pollution in production and distribution processes and actively working towards regenerating ecosystems).
Want to know more?
- WEF. 2023. Let’s talk about ‘regenerative business’ not sustainability. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2023/03/regenerative-business-sustainability/ ↩︎
- CABRERA Research Lab. What is Lamo thinking? https://help.cabreraresearch.org/what-is-lamo-thinking ↩︎
- Haller, K et al. 2020. Meet the 2020 Consumers Driving Change. IBM. https://www.ibm.com/downloads/cas/EXK4XKX8 ↩︎
- Ellen Macarthur Foundation. 2023. https://ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/topics/circular-economy-introduction/overview ↩︎