Beyond Sustainability: The Regenerative Business

By Navi Radjou

The Regenerative Business GETTY

In recent years, US manufacturers have taken major steps to make their supply chains more sustainable in an effort to fight climate change.

Earlier this year, GM appointed its first chief sustainability officer Dane Parker to drive the carmaker and the nation towards an all-electric, zero-emissions future (GM plans to produce 20 new all-electric vehicles by 2023). By adopting the circular economy principles aimed at zero-waste, SC Johnson has already made 94% of its plastic packaging recyclable, reusable, or compostable. And Levi Strauss is shaking up the apparel sector, a top contributor to global warming, by committing to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions within its own facilities by 90% by 2025.

All these noble sustainability strategies—reducing waste and emissions and switching to renewable energy—aim to “do more with less”, that is create more economic value by polluting less and using fewer natural resources. But this “do less harm” (to the environment) posture is not enough, for three reasons:

First, climate change is worsening, and resources are getting scarcer. This year, Earth Overshoot Day—the point in the year when humanity’s natural resources consumption exceeds the planet’s ability to regenerate—was on August 22, earlier than ever.

Second, Covid-19 is making racial and socio-economic disparities in America even worse. As a result, values-conscious employees and consumers want US businesses to take a stand against racism and all forms of inequality and positively contribute to society.

Third, US consumers wants companies to go well beyond sustainability and “do more good” to the planet. According to a study by ReGenFriends nearly 80% US consumers prefer “reg