A report from consultants McKinsey has said that most companies have not yet begun to extend the product lifecycle of their products.
McKinsey interviewed executives from companies all over the world for its Global Survey on sustainability that asked respondents about actions their companies are taking to address environmental, social or governance issues.
Currently, 43 per cent of executives said that they seek to align sustainability with their overall business goals, mission or values, up from 30 per cent who said so in 2012.
While 36 per cent of executives believe that sustainable actions helps to build, maintain or improve corporate reputation, and 26 per cent said sustainability is important for cutting costs.
Of the 13 core sustainability activities asked about by McKinsey, 64 per cent of executives said they are reducing energy use in operations, reducing waste was cited by 63 per cent, and managing their corporate reputations for sustainability was next at 59 per cent.
For chief executives, 36 per cent of them said it was one of their top three priorities, with 13 per cent saying it is their most important priority.
But the report warns that companies are not doing enough to look ahead on extending the product lifecycle, looking to technology to improve sustainability, and focus on sustainable strategy.
On extending the lifecycle, the report said: “Today, resource constraints are creating unprecedented prices and volatility in natural-resource markets. Yet the results indicate that most companies have not even begun to implement strategies that extend the life of their products and thereby reduce their resource dependence in a significant way.
“According to our other research, there is huge value potential in better design and in the optimisation of products for multiple cycles of disassembly and reuse. Forward-looking companies should begin investing in the ‘circularity’ of their products, for the benefit of society and for their bottom line. On materials alone, companies could potentially save more than $1 trillion per year.”
The report also suggested that technology is creating opportunities to drive sustainable solutions. Yet only 36 per cent of respondents say their companies are mostly or fully integrating sustainability into their data and analytics work.
It added: “Companies that want to capture increasing value in a resource-constrained world should spend more time thinking about how to integrate their technological capabilities into their overall sustainability agenda.”