IKEA and Syngenta are from different areas of industry with different businesses. However, both businesses adopt policies to enable their customers and suppliers to participate in sustainable practices. IKEA's aims are that all the products and materials it takes from the primary sector do not harm the environment, such as in the manufacture of its furniture. Syngenta researches and develops seeds to help other people adopt sustainable agricultural practices. These kinds of efforts are now being recognised with awards.
Just over a year ago the Sunday Times launched a contest to find Britain's Best Green Companies and nearly 90 companies registered for the 2008 awards. The awards are designed to encourage, acknowledge and publicise businesses and other organisations that are leading the way in safeguarding the future of the planet through improved environmental performance. There are five categories within the overall competition, determined by the size of the company and whether its operation is a 'high', 'medium' or 'low' environmental impact industry (The Times, Monday, 9 February 2009).
This year the methodology has been revised and will take account of the efforts of firms not just to get their business in order environmentally, but to change the practices of key suppliers. JC Atkinson & Son, a coffin manufacturer from Tyne and Wear, was the winner of the first Best Green Companies awards in 2008. Its factory uses a warm-air heater which is powered by the firm's waste wood and saves about £18,000 a year in gas or oil costs. The £100,000 heater will pay for itself in a little over five years. In addition, skylights in the roof mean that only half of the factory 's lights are used, a saving of £1,200 a year in electricity. Julian Atkinson, managing director said:
"The benefits of this have helped to motivate staff in giving the company a greater sense of purpose, facilitating further positive environmental changes. As a result of the award we have definitely received the benefit of new inquiries and sales. It has been the biggest contribution to our growth so far" (The Sunday Times, 12 October 2008).
Read the Times 100 case studies on IKEA and Syngenta on their sustainable policies.