Collateral sustainability

[Paris. Repeatable idea.]

In order to get to real sustainable business (or non-profit, or public), the organisation should not bolt on the sustainability initiatives, but build them in. Into the primary processes themselves. So that ‘sustainability’ becomes collateral next to the money-making, or x-making, that the organisation had set out to do.

One way of doing this, is by (external?) pressure to have the pollutor pay. In that way, similar to VAT I guess, any organisation neutralises the ‘damage’ they do by generating moneys for restaurative initiatives, externally, or internally if one is allowed to spend the surcharge on such restaurative initiatives oneself; this would of course need extensive, costly and fraud-sensitive, ‘independent’ auditing. Self-control will not do! And if the damage may be undone fully; repllanting a few fast-growing trees is not a substitute for eradicating well-developed forests. Covering an open pit mine with green is not a repair of the environmental damage done. Full footprint costs are the only reasonable foundation for calculations. Hence, the moneys may better be spent by others; governments or special interest groups supported by governments.
In this way, too, the production methods (ingredients, raw materials, labour, etc.) that pollute less into the internal, often more into the external environment, will also be cheaper. There will be an incentive, at last, to use more sustainably lean production methods. To let employees work from home more, and/or flex. Etc. By having a pollutor surcharge (that for economy-wide cost neutrality may take the form of a variation of corporate profit tax), the pressure gets real, and the pressure will not be through the public image of the organisation alone.

∗ Note that an economy-wide, i.e., country-wide (or region-wide, e.g., EEA), levy of surcharge may need a compensatory import tax for good, services imported, and one may consider proceeeds to be put into compensation for exports. Otherwise, the playing field wouldn’t be level, globally. Or would corporate tax discounts help; and/or how would the import of raw materials, etc., flow through production ..? Maybe not use an exit-based VAT but an input-based ‘Destroyed Value Included’ charge ..? Will be the bookkeepers’ wet dream either way.

Your thoughts, please!

Maverisk / Étoiles du Nord