The purpose of a corporation is to improve society, look out for employees, care for the environment and deal ethically, not to make the most money for shareholders. That at least, has last month been decided by the largest US business group, Business Roundtable, which includes 181 CEOs of some of the world’s biggest companies, including JPMorgan, Ford, and Johnson & Johnson.
The impact businesses are having on the world can no longer be ignored. Customers don’t think so either. A recent study by Nielsen emphasised the growing concern amongst consumers about the sustainability of the products and services they use, with 81% of respondents saying they wanted companies to do more to help improve the environment.
It’s in businesses’ interest to be more sustainable – so we’ve looked at five CEOs who are leading the charge with theirs.
Solveiga Pakstaite, Founder of ‘Mimica’
The idea for Mimica came to founder Solveiga Pakstaite while doing a project with The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association. Noticing that visually impaired people often had no method of monitoring the expiry date of their food, Pakstaite’s concern grew over the impact processed foods could have on their health.
Her solution, Mimica Touch, uses chemical technology to provide a physical indicator for when food is no longer fresh – and is more accurate than the “Use By” date printed on the product, too. Mimica Touch cuts the UK’s product waste and leads the way in sustainability and social innovation.
Mojca Zupan, CEO of ‘PlanetCare Limited’
PlanetCare produces filters for washing machines that prevent microplastics from synthetic clothing from entering the water stream and polluting the ocean. Zupan has a background in business consulting and founded PlanetCare in 2017 as she found herself growing passionate about the planet and with a mission to save the environment.
Her one-of-a-kind solution can be applied to domestic and industrial washing machines and effectively tackles the 35% of microplastics our clothing releases with every wash – and ongoing research will take her no doubt far further.
Mark Jankovich, CEO of ‘Delphis Eco’
Delphis Eco product cleaning products free of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which are chemicals with a high health-risk for humans if we’re exposed to them for too long. For professional cleaners who use them, the effect is said to be as bad as smoking 20 cigarettes a day.
Jankovich turned down a job offer from Goldman Sachs when he set up Delphis Eco in 2007 with the aim of creating a fully sustainable product. Now, everything from the product to the label printed with vegetable ink is 100% recycled and recyclable – a UK first for the packaging.
Cyndi Rhoades, CEO of ‘Worn Again Technologies’
Rhoades set up Worn Again Technologies in 2005 to tackle waste issues in the fashion industry, initially by upcycling unwanted scraps into fresh fashion items. To take her business to a grander scale, she partnered with chemist Dr Adam Walker, and together they designed a process that recycles textiles at a molecular level, turning clothes back into raw textile material from which point they can be fully reused.
Already partnering with H&M, Rhoades is becoming an influential name in the sustainable fashion industry after she co-founded the Re:Fashion Awards, the world’s first ethical fashion award.
Fiona Howarth, CEO of ‘Octopus Electric Vehicles’
Fiona recognised the potential for electric vehicles early on in her career, when she worked on hydrogen fuel cells at BMC in 2003. After several years spent at a management consultancy, Fiona joined Octopus Electric Vehicles (OEV) as CEO in 2017 to lead the charge with electric technology on the road.
OEV is currently engaging in pioneering work in Vehicle to Grid technology to allow customers to sell off any excess energy created. They have also set out to change perceptions about electric vehicles, allowing prospective customers the chance to test out the tech for themselves at their Drive Days on tour throughout the country. With her combination of passion and extensive experience, Fiona is the perfect person to lead the company in the exciting years ahead.
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