Healthy communities, healthy environments - celebrating the positive contributions that businesses make to society


Gudrun Cartwright, Business in the Community Environment Director invites all businesses to join Business in the Community in co-creating a world that we can be proud to leave to future generations. 

Sunday 22  April was Earth Day. Every year this day asks us to imagine how things can be better and to think about how we can be part of rebuilding the health of our only planet.  It was fitting that this year, Earth Day preceded Responsible Business Week when Business in the Community and our members shine a light on how business is helping to create healthy communities in a healthy environment. 

At the Responsible Business Week launch on Monday, it was clear that contributing to achieving these goals is now central to business strategy for a growing list of companies.  From building climate risks into core investment decisions to managing utilities to deliver resilient supplies of life’s essentials, to using reach and influence to inspire people to tackle some of our most pressing challenges, such as plastic pollution, ‘activist leadership’ is increasingly important.  I was heartened to hear from businesses that truly see that their prosperity is interlinked with the flourishing of people and nature.

As we move our focus onto the health of our environment on Thursday, I am delighted that we are in Manchester.  We are bringing together leaders at all levels to find ways to create commercial, social and economic value by tackling our shared environmental challenges.  These challenges are set out for the city in the Mayor’s vision for a leading green city. 

Yesterday, we visited Styal Prison to see how Recycling Lives is enabling prisoners to prepare for a new life by recycling IT equipment and Moorlands Junior School, where, with the support of Arup, Costain, Marshalls, Stantec, Utilities and Defra, we have created a rain garden to help build resilience to flood risk and climate change.  At today’s Innovation Lab we will be thinking about how we can expand our vision of the possible, take practical action that creates shared value and build new connections that will enable collaboration and innovation.   

It is particularly fitting that we will be discussing the practical opportunities to collaborate on issues like plastic waste at a city level on the same day that Wrap and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation launch the Plastic Pact.  With 2025 targets to eliminate problematic single use plastic packaging; ensure 100% of plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable; 70% is effectively recycled or composted with future plastic packaging containing 30% of recycled content, it is an important step in making plastic packaging fit for the future.  The commitment from leading tourism and hospitality businesses in Manchester to be single-use plastic free by 2020 will be a valuable testbed and we are looking forward to working with the Mayor and his team towards that goal.

Responsible Business Week is a key moment in our year, where we celebrate the positive contributions that businesses make to society.  However, we know that there is much to do if we are going to regenerate our environment so that it can continue to support the health prosperity of society.  That is why we are now calling for businesses to work with us to take action.  We want you to tell us how you are tackling plastic waste so that we can show how we are collectively taking on this challenge.  We also want you to think about how you can create more green space in our towns and cities to make us all more resilient. We want to work with you to new ways to engage your employees and boost your productivity through our circular office initiative and work with you to shape your ideas and plans to rapidly reduce carbon emissions and achieve a net zero future.

At the end of this year, we will be convening a significant summit that will focus on how we can turn waste into wealth and find new ways to boost our productivity, prosperity and resilience as we prepare to leave the EU next year.    We have a huge opportunity to find new ways to create shared value and restore the health of, as Jeremy Darroch, our Chairman and CEO of Sky said on Monday, ‘Mother Earth, who provides everything that enables life.’  We would like to invite all businesses to join us in co-creating a world that we can be proud to leave to future generations. We would love to hear from you if you want to get involved. info@bitc.org.uk