Preparing for the triple bottom line

Advice on the growing connection between sustainability and company value, and how to improve both.

Preparing for the triple bottom line

Preparing for the triple bottom line

In decades gone by technological advancement was put on a pedestal as the driver of our future lives. To say it doesn’t still have enormous influence today would be an oversight, however, the expectations of consumers, society and policymakers have expanded considerably.

For all businesses – even those outside the technology sphere – improving performance is still critical, but the new innovation watchword is sustainability.  As Epson has also recognised in its Environmental Vision 2050, the Earth’s carrying capacity is limited, and the future of our resources (and possibly civilisation) require more careful management than was evident in previous years.

From the vantage point of the present, it is clear that to remain successful in the coming decades, businesses must not only have competitive products and prices, but also competitive sustainability performance.

Now policymakers throughout Europe have begun to bolster consumer sentiment on this topic with regulatory structures and processes to enforce sustainability standards on businesses.

The future of business sustainability – the Triple Bottom Line

What many of us sometimes forget is that the term sustainability seeks balance and longevity between the competing forces of economic, environmental and societal performance.  To be truly sustainable, it is important to try to balance all three.

These aspects make up the concept of the ‘Triple Bottom Line’, which goes on to suggest that the best way to encourage businesses to work toward this goal is to put in place new rules that require businesses to report their performance across all three criteria in their accounts.  By factoring in the environmental and social cost of their activities, supporters of this approach argue that investors and customers will be given a more realistic perspective of the value companies are offering.

The European Union appears to have taken a first step toward this idea in its Energy Efficiency Directive, a clause in which requires ‘large companies to conduct energy audits at least every four years’. Also at a political level, the concept of the Triple Bottom Line was championed by a number of senior voices at the COP21 summit on sustainable innovation in Paris, and although it did not make the final draft of the Paris agreement – the first global climate change deal – in years to come it may well form part of the mechanism to achieve the goals set out therein.

Another significant driver of the Triple Bottom Line approach is ‘green investment’.  Many institutional investors, such as pension funds, now stipulate that a certain proportion of their investments will only be directed towards companies and assets that meet certain sustainability criteria.  These criteria are often linked to indices like the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. As a result, companies that do not conform to high enough sustainability standards can potentially lose value due to lower competition for their equity.

What measures can companies take to reduce energy consumption?

The simple answer is that there is a lot that companies can do to improve the energy efficiency of their operations.  And, as a result, there are also significant environmental and financial cost savings to be captured by the most aware.

That’s why, in 2008, Epson committed to reducing CO2 emissions by 90% across the lifecycle of all products and services by the year 2050. And we’re already well ahead of the curve, having reduced C02 emissions by almost 40%, waste emissions by almost 30%, and water use by 56% (to reference a few) since 2006.

To achieve this, Epson has built upon a culture of continuous product lifecycle redesign to ensure that we are always looking for ways to improve our environmental as well as technological performance.

In addition to lighting sensors, better insulation and reducing resource consumption, one of the best ways to control energy efficiency and save on costs is to be selective about the office equipment being used.

Epson has invested significantly in developing compact, energy efficient technologies for businesses. Epson’s Workforce Pro business range, for example, has received a number of awards following independent testing by Buyers Laboratory (BLI).  According to the tests results, printers within this product range:

  • use up to 96% less energy than laser printers and copiers
  • produces up to 94% less waste than laser printers and copies
  • are up to 23% quieter than laser printers copiers
  • (WorkForce Pro RIPS printers actually produced 99% less waste than laser printers and copiers)

We’re confident that the WorkForcePro range will have a direct impact on businesses’ Triple Bottom Line, and will support the many other achievable measures that businesses can put in place to enhance their economic, environmental and societal performance.

Grasping the low-hanging fruit of sustainability

Each company, depending on the nature of its operations and products will have different sustainability challenges and opportunities to access carefully as we move forward, however, all companies share the potential to grasp the low-hanging-fruit of improved sustainability through improving the energy and resource efficiency of their office technology and environment.

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