Sustainability has come of age over the past decade, according to Steve Ashkin, president of The Ashkin Group.
“There has been what I call a ‘sustainability shift,'” Ashkin explains. “More companies now realize that sustainability, cost savings, risk aversion, and business growth, all go hand in hand.”
Ashkin believes that revisiting what was accomplished over the past 10 years will provide insight into where sustainability will go in the next 10 years. The following are among the sustainability accomplishments he notes:
- 10 years ago, only about 20 percent of the S&P 500 Hundred companies published sustainability reports. Now, that is closer to 90 percent.
- The 2019 Business Roundtable released a new “Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation,” asserting that U.S. companies should transition from focusing primarily on profits to “supporting communities and protecting the environment by embracing sustainable practices.”
- A decade ago, only about 40 percent of U.S. adults believed protecting the environment was a top priority. Today, that number is closer to 60 percent.
- By 2019, power generation in the U.S. from renewable energy sources surpassed power produced from coal.
- The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that U.S. coal mining output has declined 27 percent over the past decade; coal is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.
- Power generated by renewable energy sources increased 26 times from 2009 to 2019, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by two billion tons in 2019 alone
- Recycling and composting in the U.S. has gone from just over 75 million tons in 2010 to nearly 100 million tons today.
- The number of Americans employed in the U.S. solar industry has more than doubled since the beginning of the decade. There are now more people working in solar power industries than in oil, coal, or gas.
“It is this last point that provides us with a solid indication of how sustainability will impact our economy,” says Ashkin. “Simply put, sustainability is where the jobs are. In the next 10 years, we will see sustainability become one of the leading drivers of the U.S. economy.”