Why should businesses factor in sustainability and ecological consciousness while building their business?

Sustainability is no longer a fad or just a buzzword. With a growing body of research confirming the benefits of integrating sustainability into business practices and operations, companies today have better awareness about its importance. Rising awareness levels are also making customers look for brands that are environmentally conscious. From a larger perspective, it is important for companies to act responsible and think long term. I cannot imagine a company surviving long term if it is not taking its commitment to sustainability and the environment seriously. For Mai Dubai it is not only clearly stated in the Mission and Vision, but it is part of our very organisational culture.

The expectations on corporate responsibility are mounting and as transparency becomes more prevalent, companies are recognising the need to pursue sustainability targets. Apart from professional communications and good intentions, implementing environmental values are also essential to thrive in today’s market.

Apart from scoring brownie points with the environmentalists, what are the other benefits of building a green business?

The primary benefit is with our consumers. Individuals and families have a growing conscience when it comes down to environmental responsibility. But it is more than that. Employees also want to work for companies that are ‘green’ or at least take actions to keep the planet as nice a place to live on as possible. It goes through the value chain – lobbyists, employees, consumers and even business partners will work with you, buy your products when they feel you act in a smart way towards the environment.

From an operations point of view, adoption of sustainable business practices is necessary to drive an efficient operation that streamlines effort and conserves resources. Over time, it enhances employee productivity and saves cost, from energy conservation strategies that can be as simple as turning off unnecessary lights and insulating walls to the more sophisticated efforts such as the installation of geothermal heating and cooling systems. There is no dearth of opportunities if you really care about your sustainability goals. Although those initiatives that provide greater overall impact are likely to be more expensive to implement, their long-term results justify the initial investment.

With energy conservation becoming one of the core values of businesses across the world, what can small businesses with limited resources in the UAE do to save energy?

We are no longer a small business, but even a few years back when we were, one of the first things we did was having our carbon footprint measured. We believe that this alone sent a clear message to our company’s internal and external stakeholders about our commitment to energy efficiency. Regardless of how small or how big a business is, energy efficiency should be integrated in any business agenda.

Mai Dubai's factory and its adjacent office building run fully on solar energy
Supplied

Even if you don’t have the resources to immediately act on your sustainability goals, practices such as energy conservation and recycling should be in any business’s growth plan. This is important because all these can contribute over the long term, and therefore, factoring them in the early stages is essential.

What are some of the significant steps Mai Dubai has taken to save as well as generate clean energy?

Sustainability is part of our core values at Mai Dubai and this is clearly reflected in many aspects of our operations. Since its inception, Mai Dubai has attached great significance to ecological consciousness. It was this belief that encouraged us to measure our carbon footprint in the very beginning so that we would have something to benchmark against and improve upon it year after year.

Currently, we are the only bottled water company in the world of our size which operates 100 per cent on solar energy. Solar energy is a sustainable alternative source and therefore, it is suited perfectly to the vision and mission of Mai Dubai.

The factory and its adjacent office building run fully on solar energy, contributing to abating 10,000MTs of carbon emissions annually.

Our headquarters is “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” (LEED) certified, which is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. Besides, we have an extensive water recycling system and an on-site waste treatment plant.

In terms of packaging, we offer consumers a free service 16-litre PET bottle return. This way we help them return the bottles for recycling and reduce plastic usage. We also work with our event partners to collect the plastic bottles at major events such as the Mai Dubai Half Marathon.

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