How Air Pollution Can Affect Your Company’s Performance
Breathe in, breathe out. It is not just a simple bodily function. It is a vital aspect of our daily lives. But what happens when the air we breathe is filled with pollutants? It's not just our health that's at risk; it's the performance of our companies too. From decreased productivity to increased healthcare costs, air pollution can significantly hinder a company's performance. Don't let dirty air hold your business back; learn how it affects your bottom line.
Over the years, air pollution has become a silent killer for individuals and corporations. A report by the World Bank revealed that air pollution costs the global economy more than $5 trillion annually in welfare costs. These costs entail several figures associated with air pollution and health and consumption. If we just consider the income lost to air pollution, the global economy loses $225 billion annually. This vast figure may be an invisible loss right now, but it is enough to say that if businesses don’t take action now, they may not sustain for long in the market.
For centuries, industries and individuals all across the globe have, in some way or another, contributed to air pollution. Whether small or large, the drastic effects of air pollution and the costs attached to it have become the centre of attention and urgency. Here are some ways how air pollution affects your business:
- Increased operating costs: Companies may have to invest in equipment or technology to reduce emissions, which can increase their operating costs.
- Reduced productivity: Air pollution can negatively impact the health of employees, leading to increased absenteeism and reduced productivity.
- Damage to reputation: A company seen as a significant contributor to air pollution may face negative public perception, damaging its reputation and negatively impacting its bottom line.
- Legal liabilities: Companies that violate air pollution regulations may face fines or penalties, which can further impact their financial performance.
- Decrease in sales: Air pollution can also lead to a decrease in sales of the company's products and services due to the negative impact of the pollution on the area where the company operates, also it can cause a decrease in demand for products, which can negatively impact the company's revenue.
- Supply chain disruption: Air pollution can also disrupt a company's supply chain, leading to delays or increased costs in obtaining the raw materials or components necessary to produce its products.
(Fascinating Case Study): How IKEA combatted air pollution in India
India is home to 9 out of the 10 most polluted cities in the world. Every year in India, farmers burn around 39 million tons of rice straw residue on their farms to clear the field for the next harvest. This is a major cause of pollution in India, specifically Delhi. This pollution is estimated to create an economic loss of $30 billion annually.
IKEA’s effort to combat air pollution in India has been a remarkable one. The company launched an FÖRÄNDRING collection in 2019, which uses rice straw residues as a raw material in manufacturing. Additionally, it has taken steps such as investing in renewable energy and reducing emissions from its supply chain. One specific example is the company's partnership with the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) to invest in wind and solar power projects in the country. Additionally, IKEA has set a goal to enable more than 1 billion people to live a better everyday life within the boundaries of the planet by 2030, while 50% of the main meals offered in IKEA restaurants will be plant-based by FY25.
Recognising that sustainability is a key consideration of consumer behaviour, the corporate giant has established its credibility and demand in the market by offering a wide range of innovative products that are simultaneously better for the planet.
The impacts of problems caused by polluted air are real and massive, making it crucial for consumers and business owners to make efforts to mitigate it to the maximum possible extent. Indifference towards poor air quality and its impact on your business cost more than the cost of shifting to greener and more sustainable alternatives. Another important factor to consider is that the initial costs of adopting sustainable strategies can increase returns in the long run. The price of air pollution is colossal, but by taking action, you can save money and boost your profitability! Here are some ways how you can do that:
- Investing in electric or hybrid vehicles for company fleets to reduce emissions from transportation.
- Installing green roofs or vertical gardens to absorb carbon dioxide and improve air quality.
- Creating a sustainable supply chain by working with vendors and suppliers who prioritise environmental conservation.
- Collecting the data required to develop emission inventories for key major pollutants related to the companies’ own activities
- Offering incentives to employees who choose to bike or walk to work.
- Implementing a "closed loop" production process, where waste materials are recycled and repurposed within the company instead of being released into the environment.
- Incorporating "smart building" technology to optimise energy use and reduce the carbon footprint of the company's facilities.
- Partnering with local alliances to organise community clean-up or tree-planting events to improve air quality in the surrounding area.
- Using alternative energy sources such as wind or solar power to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
- Implementing a sustainability program to engage employees in environmental conservation and tracking progress towards reducing the company's environmental impact.
Whether or not, you have considered adopting such measures so far, we hope that the ideas we’ve shared have helped you learn more about the unavoidable harms of inaction and conversely, the short and long-term benefits of polluting less, helped encourage you to consider adopting many of these measures to help benefit your business, and the planets.
Tackling air pollution is not a simple task. It requires a collaborative effort from both citizens and organisations. Poor air quality can have significant adverse impacts on human health, the environment and industries, but your contribution to mitigating such challenges can make a tangible difference. A difference that can protect the people you care for and the planet that supports you.