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Nearly 50 years ago, Milton Friedman wrote, “There is one and only one social responsibility of business – to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game.” The rules of the game, however, have changed, says Reconomy.

© Adobe stock
© Adobe stock

09 August 2019 | Reconomy

Businesses realise their licence to operate depends on them acting responsibly. They recognise that socially, environmentally and commercially sustainable business practices are linked when set against a backdrop of diminishing natural resources and volatile markets. 

Heightened media coverage and social awareness has forced ‘sustainability’ up the political agenda and, as a result, has given it a prominent profile in the boardroom. Key to becoming an environmentally sustainable business is moving from a linear model to a circular one. With this approach, waste is not regarded as disposable but as a valuable resource to support the development of sustainable supply chains.

Businesses can adopt this circular mindset when supporting and improving the commodities in which they live and work. The result is a business managing its activities within the context of the ‘triple bottom line’ (Financial, Environmental, Social).

If we take the Government’s document – Our Waste, Our Resources: A strategy for England – as a guiding light, the strategy seeks to redress the balance in favour of the natural world and to move to a circular economy to keep resources in use for longer. The strategy expects to contribute to a wide range of economic and social goals, as material resources are at the heart of our economy and the use of these resources allows us to meet our basic human needs as well as generate economic growth and create social value.

Pursuing social value enables organisations to meet their legal obligations, such as those of the Social Value Act 2012, almost by default. This makes it less of a ’tick box’ exercise and more about bringing about genuine commercial advantage.

Reconomy Social Value Programme (RSVP)

Leading outsourced waste management and resource-led service provider, Reconomy, has intrinsically linked sustainability to its business strategy. The company has created the Reconomy Social Value Programme (RSVP) as a measurable and value-driven approach to increasing sustainability and delivering social value.

Whilst other elements of Reconomy’s Sustainability Strategy continue to put the customer at the heart of everything and tackle the risks presented by climate change, RSVP has increased focus on building valuable community relationships. As well as helping employees to make a difference through activities such as volunteering, RSVP is an invitation to Reconomy’s customers and suppliers to help realise positive change and increase social value.

The programme has two main strands: bridging gaps and breaking barriers. Via a number of partners, Reconomy provides opportunities to help young people leaving care, ex-offenders, ex-military and the homeless to find meaningful employment. This work is measurable via a portal that tracks social value as a monetary figure. 

Successful Partnerships

A great example of RSVP is its ground-breaking partnership with The National House Project – a radical housing solution for young people leaving care. The first project in Wolverhampton will see young people aged 16 and over, who are leaving the care system, given access to an empty Wolverhampton Homes property. Links will then be made with local building companies and training providers to give them skills to make improvements to what will become their home. 

As well as providing waste management services during the renovation, Reconomy will provide senior management as ‘Business Mentors’ to the National and Local House Project Steering Groups and help the project participants with employability support, coaching and job opportunities through its extensive supplier and customer base.

More information

If you are interested in finding out how your business can start or move forward with its journey to becoming a socially circular business, then contact us today on 01952 292 000 or via email at [email protected]

Alternatively you can find out more about RSVP and Reconomy’s Sustainability Strategy by visiting reconomy.com