Green Franchise Businesses - Industry Report 2010
The Internet has made information easy to access and widely available. Consumers have grown accustomed to being able to access information on any number of different topics and are now demanding transparency and access to information from businesses in relation to their green practices and policies.
Radical transparency is a management method where all decisions and practices are made public. Economic theory holds that the more transparent a market, the healthier it will be. The theory being that a company cannot judge itself to be sustainable or responsible and can only be judged by others. By implementing radical transparency, this allows consumers to have full access to the information relating to the environmental (as well as health and social) impacts of what businesses do. This level of available information enables consumers to make better-informed, green conscious choices when purchasing goods, thereby pushing businesses towards less harmful products. Some speculated that the reporting of environmental and social matters would be among the casualties of the economic downturn. But the financial crisis created more pressure from stakeholders, customers and investors for companies to increase transparency and close the non-financial information disclosure gap.
McDonald’s, for example, began working with Conservation International and some key suppliers 6 years ago to develop an environmental scorecard. This scorecard aids McDonald’s suppliers’ with measuring and improving upon four key areas of environmental impact, namely water use, energy use, solid waste, and air emissions. The scorecard was completed and placed into practice in 2005. It encourages greater awareness of resource use and corresponding impacts (energy, water, air emissions and waste), with a goal towards continuous improvement in these categories.
Information on businesses is now available through social networking sites, blogs, websites and cellphone apps. The websites are not necessarily run by the businesses themselves but generally by a third party. Many companies are also making forms available where company practices are critiqued by company employees and consumers.
OutlookThe green industry is not a passing trend. At present consumers are more likely to support companies that have environmental programs and initiatives in place. One day, however, consumers will outright expect companies to be environmentally responsible. There has never been a better time to become part of a green franchise. Going green helps a company’s bottom line. The U.S. government has also pledged billions of dollars towards environmental programs and renewable energy initiatives. Whether it is a franchise that directly aids the environment or a franchise that employs green practices, the future is bright for the green franchise industry.