Sustainability Trends 2022 | Tech, Product Labelling, Fuel, ESG & more (2022)

Sustainability stands firm in the spotlight against the backdrop of COVID-19. But sustainability is more than a mere trend. It’s clear from the record attendance at the recent UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) that more people are ready to tackle the global climate crisis in more innovative ways.

With the urgency to develop an environmentally-friendly society, I expect to see global efforts carried through into the new year. Factors such as comprehensive regulation and social pressure will likely play a critical role in the shift towards a more sustainable future.

On this front, the sustainable landscape is evolving.

Let’s zero in on some sustainability trends to look out for in 2022 that will continue to drive sustainable progress.

Cost reduction in green technology

In the last decade, the cost of green technology significantly dropped. Get ready to wave goodbye at fossil fuels as the most cost-effective source of energy. A new report shows the cost of solar and wind energies in dramatic decline against fossil fuel costs – thanks to advanced technology, a rise in production and savvier renewable developers.

One curious question you can expect to linger in 2022 is, are fossil fuels in trouble?

The answer is complicated, to say the least. The cost of renewable energy depends in part on the decisions governments make. Still, progress has been made.

For example, United Airlines just became the first airline ever to fly on 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). This made headlines because SAF is a biofuel that emits 75% less CO2 than traditional fossil fuel.

Here’s what it means:

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  1. SAF is made of things like waste byproducts and even branches that have fallen on the forest floor.
  2. United’s test flight proves that SAF is as effective as conventional jet fuel. The big difference is that it has a smaller carbon footprint.
  3. More people make it their personal goal to support corporations that prioritise innovative climate solutions.
  4. Large corporations can drive change on a larger scale.
  5. United has pledged to go 100% green by 2050.
  6. It’s a big milestone for the aviation industry.

Sustainable tech is far from perfect, sure, but I prefer celebrating the progress made. I will happily fuel this sustainable fire (aka buy from companies that prioritise sustainability).

A shift to a circular economy

Although in the early stages, the circular economy is a beautiful and ever growing trend inspiring environmentalists and businesses alike. It’s a transition away from a throwaway economy into one where elimination, circulation, and regeneration takes shape.

What I’m most excited about is the idea that products are designed for durability and the materials come from old products. As a case in point, plenty of sustainable fashion brands are offering clothing repairs and recycling, as well as selling new stuff – with brands like Levi’s and Nudie Jeans leading the way.

More of this sort of thing should appear in 2022. It’s a good start to minimize waste destroying the planet and all its inhabitants.

I can’t wait to see this concept grow.

Boost in ESG investment

Speaking of growth, since the start of the pandemic, ESG (Environment, Social, and Governance) has gained considerable popularity in the sustainability sphere. This is clear from the results in the Google Trends data below.

Sustainability Trends 2022 | Tech, Product Labelling, Fuel, ESG & more (1)With everyone clambering their way onto the sustainable bandwagon, businesses in all industries must take note of the ESG movement. It’s a forward-thinking idea to invest in businesses’ future potential based on sustainable performance rather than profits.

Businesses can commit to ESG in a number of ways.

Some might choose to adopt a zero-waste model to reduce their environmental impact. Others might focus on improving the lives of their employees and even the surrounding community. While benefits are immeasurable in most cases, companies must keep up with ESG to gain a competitive edge.

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With all of that, expect more businesses to seek accreditations like B Corp Status – and new statuses to appear – some of them more sincere than others.

The good news is that this rising trend compels businesses to be more transparent about their environmental impact. Though, the pressure is lifted knowing one can still make money while making the world a better place.

It’s a win-win agenda.

To put it into an analytical perspective, McKinsey & Company brings conservation into focus with their new report. The results show the co-benefits and value of nature conservation in a refreshing way.

That all said, ESG is another area that can get tainted by greenwashing. So investors and customers alike need to learn to make the distinction between eco-authenticity and pretence.

Extended climate financial support

With ESG on the map, more countries might aspire to extend their national climate plans, and commit to science-based ambitions and net-zero targets. Here’s a flavour of a few recent climate actions of note (just so you know, there are many more examples):

  • Colombia aims to be carbon neutral by 2050 and will make it happen with a National Determined Contribution (NDC) – an action plan to adapt to the effects of climate change. The goal is to green the power system in agreement with the industrial, agricultural and energy sectors.
  • Jamaica’s revised NDC commits to better regulate water usage in an effort to decrease waste and potential shortage.
  • Rwanda is the first African country to rework its initial NDC with a confident plan to reduce emissions by 38% by 2030. It has developed a system to pursue reductions in agriculture, water, human settlements, land and forestry, transport and mining, and health.

With such bold goals on the horizon, stakeholders, banks, and asset managers might potentially voice the need for the finance industry to support climate efforts.

Not only that but also in light of COP26, it’s anticipated that countries will deliver on the goal (set in 2009) to pledge $100 billion to help poor nations tackle climate change.

Bigger shelf space for sustainable products

It’s clear that people are buying more sustainable products. In the UK alone annual spend on ethical and sustainable products breached the £100bn watermark for the first time in 2022, at £122bn.

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With this, green products have moved rapidly to the forefront of the hot-seller lists. You can expect sustainable products to become the norm in the coming months and way into the future. Wherever you go, you’ll see sustainable stuff because more than ever before, people are aware of loss of biodiversity, climate change and the responsibility they carry to make a change. But I predict a big wave of change to happen sooner than expected with global eco-wakening in full swing.

People also want to know where their products come from. Who made it and how it is transported. So expect to see more handy details (and even tech) to tell a product’s sustainability story, such as QR codes to reveal info on supply chains, and carbon-footprint labelling.

Sustainability Trends 2022 | Tech, Product Labelling, Fuel, ESG & more (2)

Source: Oatly

Consumer demand is undoubtedly the catalyst that will continue to drive positive change. Still, to win favour with customers, businesses must embrace the sustainability movement.

Work-from-home gains momentum

Remote work has been around for a while. But when the work-from-home lifestyle took off as a necessity at the onset of the pandemic, the positive environmental impact astounded people everywhere.

Though an unconventional sustainability trend, the work-from-home movement should be here to stay.

It’s only natural to see a reduction in fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions with fewer cars on the roads and offices using much less energy. I understand why the work-from-home trend will continue into the new year. It’s the quickest and most cost-effective way to reduce your carbon footprint.

With all that said, I have to acknowledge the privilege that comes with the ability to work remotely. Ideally, it shouldn’t be regarded as a privilege but rather a right for all. Some industries like agriculture, mining, health and medical, leisure and hospitality, and construction, find it challenging and often impossible to work from home.

But those working onsite, in the office, or front of house don’t always have the resources to work from home.

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A few matters will need to be addressed for this movement to effectively work for everyone. Though, a good initial step would be if businesses and employers took compassionate action:

  • Make sure your workforce is equipped with the required resources for them to work effectively and safely.
  • Check-up regularly on your remote staff.
  • Offer allowances to safeguard mental and physical health.
  • If possible, give employees or contractors the option to work from home (part or full-time).
  • And also bear in mind that plenty of people don’t like working remotely, some of the time or all of the time. So the flexibility works both ways to keep everyone comfortable.
  • Offer public transportation vouchers to employees working onsite to keep the cars on the roads at a minimum.

These small actionable steps can have a major positive social and environmental impact, enabling everyone to be as productive and efficient as their profession allows.

Comprehensive regulation

While this all sounds good so far, to show real sustainable progress, legal requirements are needed to force companies and organisations to show transparency about their climate risks.

As a starting point, the IFRS Foundation made it clear that “transparent, reliable and comparable reporting” of environmental matters is in high demand among international investors. To help measure up to the expectation, it launched a new standard-setting board – the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) – at COP26 in November 2021. So you see, credibility, accountability and transparency will undoubtedly steer the future of business.

I expect entire organisations to shut down if they lack environmental and social performance, showing the world the seriousness of insufficient climate action.

There is no question that the sustainability movement will play a big role in all facets of life in 2022 and beyond. Sustainability will become the “new normal” and this is good (more like freaking fantastic) news for the planet.

Sustainability Trends 2022 | Tech, Product Labelling, Fuel, ESG & more (3)

Celesté Polley

Celesté is a content writer, creative photographer, pianist, avid birder, environmentalist at heart, and Earth wanderer from South Africa.

FAQs

What are the latest trends in sustainability? ›

1. Renewables and Nuclear Hold Promise for Net Zero Energy. An infographic based on the latest Climate Watch data highlights that energy usage contributes to 73.2% of global greenhouse gas emissions. This is far and away the highest contributor, with the second-highest being agriculture, at 18.4%.

Why is ESG 2022? ›

There will be more focus on the 'S' in ESG in 2022, following COVID-19 and other significant social campaigns globally, to create a positive workplace culture, but a failure to navigate employee-stakeholder issues may create the risk of employee litigation.

What is ESG stand for? ›

ESG stands for Environmental, Social, and Governance.

What are ESG themes? ›

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing refers to a set of standards for a company's behavior used by socially conscious investors to screen potential investments. Environmental criteria consider how a company safeguards the environment, including corporate policies addressing climate change, for example.

How can we be more sustainable in 2022? ›

Make sure you're recycling by putting your rubbish in the correct bins. Also, try to reuse products and items as many times as possible before binning them to reduce waste. By growing your own fruit and vegetables, you can ensure you're not using pesticides that will contribute to water and air pollution.

What are environmental trends in business? ›

Conclusions. To summarize, Eco-products, Sustainable investing, Renewable energy and, Net-zero emissions are key sustainable business trends for 2021. They will create sufficient risks and opportunities to shake the way companies operate not in 2050 but in 2021.

What is ESG example? ›

Carbon emissions. Air and water pollution. Deforestation. Green energy initiatives.

What is the problem with ESG? ›

ESG funds typically charge fees 40 percent higher than traditional funds making them a timely answer to asset management margin compression. All too often these higher fees are unwarranted given that ESG funds often closely mirror “vanilla” funds.

What is an ESG strategy? ›

An environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy is defined as a business model that emphasizes social responsibility. All businesses seek profits, but today's investors and shareholders want to see businesses making efforts to make the world a better place as they generate those profits.

What are the 3 essential pillars of ESG? ›

The 3 Pillars of ESG. Successful businesses focus on three core essentials: people, process, and product.

What are the 3 principle of sustainability? ›

The principles of sustainability are the foundations of what this concept represents. Therefore, sustainability is made up of three pillars: the economy, society, and the environment. These principles are also informally used as profit, people and planet.

What is the difference between sustainability and ESG? ›

3. ESG is based on standards set by lawmakers, investors, and ESG reporting organizations (e.g., GRI, TCFD, MSCI), whereas sustainability standards — while also set by standards groups like GHG Protocol — are more science-based and standardized.

What is a limitation of the ESG label? ›

Some of the challenges are as follows: Not all ESG factors are easily quantifiable, and such factors may not directly translate into earnings growth or enhanced performance for the firm. Current corporate sustainability disclosures are heavily skewed towards process and procedures and not towards actual performance.

What are the ESG goals? ›

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) goals are objectives set within a business in order to direct and actively manage the organization's impact on society and environmental sustainability.

Why is ESG important? ›

On one hand, it has been demonstrated that companies performing on ESG practices have higher financial growth and optimisation, lower volatility, higher employee productivity, reduced regulatory and legal interventions (fines and sanctions), top-line growth, and cost reductions.

How can environmental sustainability be improved? ›

  1. Think twice before shopping.
  2. Make sure your big purchases have big environmental benefits.
  3. Go #PlasticFree.
  4. Boycott products that endanger wildlife.
  5. Pay attention to labels.
  6. Be water wise.
  7. Drive less, drive green.
  8. Green your home.

What are the four environmental trends? ›

a) Four environmental trends that can create opportunities include renewable sources, agriculture meant to protect soil, waste management, and air travel changes. These can all create business opportunities as the world adapts to the new approaches in these fields.

What are the four primary categories of environmental trends? ›

The four primary categories of environmental trends are economic trends,social trends, technological advances, and political and regulatory changes.

What is green trend example? ›

Green Trend

It is also an opportunity to find ways to increase water use efficiency. Other business areas worth looking at include eco-friendly printing, recycling, and green janitorial services.

What are ESG products? ›

ESG products

An ESG investment product should contain only those securities with a high sustainability score and would exclude companies with, for example, poor records on pollution, labor relations or management practices. It would also exclude the sovereign bonds of governments with similar poor records.

What is ESG in oil and gas? ›

Oil and gas companies have long taken Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues very seriously. Many have significantly reduced their emissions footprint, some are investing in renewable and alternative energy sources, and others are pursuing carbon capture technologies and natural carbon sinks.

Who is responsible for ESG in a company? ›

ESG is already a part of each board member's fiduciary obligations to stockholders and those obligations may not be delegated to others. Boards have two principal fiduciary duties that implicate ESG: the duty of care and the duty of loyalty.

Is ESG going away? ›

Cort reiterated Friday that ESG isn't going away. The combination of regulatory and technological changes, the impact of the climate crisis and evolving social norms will make ESG factors even more important going forward in assessing market valuations, he said in an interview.

What is ESG greenwashing? ›

Greenwashing and ESG Investing

ESG investing is a strategy that helps people put their money behind companies that score highly on independent measures of their environmental, social and governance practices. It's a strategy that's popular for investment portfolios spanning the generations.

Why are companies doing ESG? ›

Having an ESG program in place helps boost brand recognition and even promotes brand loyalty. Today's consumers and clients are increasingly aware of ethical spending and care more about what a company does to support sustainability.

What is beginner ESG? ›

At MSCI, we define ESG Investing as the consideration of environmental, social and governance factors alongside financial factors in the investment decision-making process.

How do companies implement ESG? ›

The Steps
  1. Set Overall Goals.
  2. Create a Budget.
  3. Evaluate Opportunities.
  4. Construct an ESG Framework.
  5. Build a Sustainability Team.
  6. Check Your Progress.
  7. Promote Your Performance.

What is ESG roadmap? ›

The ESG roadmap to 2030 sets out clear targets to achieve our sustainable development ambitions. These targets are aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The roadmap uses metrics to track our progress toward achieving our goals.

What is the main sustainability issues in 2021? ›

Climate change

Shrinking glaciers. Accelerated sea-level rise. Rising global temperatures. Drought.

When did sustainability become a trend? ›

In the 1980s the new paradigm of sustainable development was popularized and became more widely used. The term was used in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's World Conservation Strategy (1980), Lester R.

What is the current state of climate change 2022? ›

The 2018–2022 global mean temperature average (based on data up to May or June 2022) is estimated to be 1.17 ± 0.13 °C above the 1850–1900 average. A La Niña event has had a slight cooling effect on temperatures in 2021/22 but this will be temporary.

What does Accenture mean by sustainability? ›

Sustainability spans environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, from transitioning to a zero-carbon economy to human rights to inclusion and diversity.

What are the 3 main pillars of sustainability? ›

The figure at the top of this page suggests that there are three pillars of sustainability – economic viability, environmental protection and social equity.

What is the biggest challenge in sustainability? ›

Sustainability is not only related to the environmental issues. It is also related to social equity and economic development. However, the main challenge of sustainability is still strongly correlated with the preservation of a communal environment for future generations.

Who created the 3 pillars of sustainability? ›

Our Common Future is the 1987 publication by the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) credited for introducing the concept of sustainable development, with Gro Harlem Brundtland chairing the UN-sponsored Commission.

Is sustainability a mega trend? ›

Sustainability is an emerging business megatrend, like electrification and mass production, that will profoundly affect companies' competitiveness and even their survival.

What are some sustainability strategies? ›

8 Sustainable Business Practice Examples
  • Be Intentional About Sustainability. ...
  • Partner with Employees. ...
  • Water And Electric Conservation. ...
  • Supply Chains. ...
  • Develop a Recycling Program. ...
  • Chemical Management. ...
  • Purchase Only Energy Efficient Products. ...
  • Develop Sustainability Work Policies.
29 May 2019

What are the 5 cause of climate change? ›

Five key greenhouse gases are CO2, nitrous oxide, methane, chlorofluorocarbons, and water vapor. While the Sun has played a role in past climate changes, the evidence shows the current warming cannot be explained by the Sun.

What are the 5 effects of climate change? ›

Effects of Climate Change
  • Hotter temperatures. As greenhouse gas concentrations rise, so does the global surface temperature. ...
  • More severe storms. ...
  • Increased drought. ...
  • A warming, rising ocean. ...
  • Loss of species. ...
  • Not enough food. ...
  • More health risks. ...
  • Poverty and displacement.

What is one of the main sustainability benefits? ›

Sustainability maintains the health and biocapacity of the environment. Sustainability supports the well-being of individuals and communities. Sustainability promotes a better economy where there is little waste and pollution, fewer emissions, more jobs, and a better distribution of wealth.

What is mean by sustainability will be the new digital? ›

What does Accenture mean by “Sustainability will be the new digital? A Sustainability will be a part of all of our work and drive new value and growth for our clients. B Sustainability will help all areas within Accenture to create and implement new regulations.

What is one of the biggest challenge when companies are committed to sustainability? ›

One of the biggest challenges that the companies are committed to sustainability faces are; Operations are impacted the most due to a reduction in procurement. The surrounding community needs to understand the environmental impact of the changes.

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