Going green: sustainability key to future success as consumers and employees look to businesses to act

January 27, 2022 | Australia

New research from Mastercard reveals that implementing sustainable business practices is considered by many business leaders to be the next significant challenge faced by Australian organizations in the years ahead, with 76% identifying sustainability as critical for success in their industry. 

With 81% of Australian consumers claiming they already actively seek to reduce their carbon footprint, almost half (48%) stated they would actively avoid shopping at a business that did not source its products sustainably. One in ten (13%) even went as far as saying they would only purchase from sustainable businesses by 2024. The findings highlight the risk faced by organizations that do not prioritize climate and environmental practices in 2022.

Additionally, it seems the risk of business inaction on climate extends to potential employees. Of the 51% of Australians currently either actively looking or considering new employment opportunities in 2022, almost half (43%) say they would not work for an employer who did not have an active sustainability plan in place.

Most local business leaders recognize the challenge and opportunity this presents, with 58% committed to improving their sustainability practices in the next 12 months. However, while many recognize the importance of sustainable business practices to protect the environment (57%), they also identify other challenges such as focusing on pandemic recovery (39%) and lack of government incentives (26%) as key factors preventing them from focusing on or prioritizing sustainability.

Small businesses are taking on the climate crisis
While often lacking the resources of larger organizations, Australia’s small businesses appear to be taking meaningful action when it comes operating sustainably.

Though 17% of SMEs admit to not knowing where to start on their sustainability journey, more than two thirds (70%) claim they are both actively exploring how to operate more sustainably and taking steps to improve their practices within the next year. Many small businesses are finding efficiencies by joining existing initiatives to give back to the planet, with 77% looking to support community-led initiatives such as tree planting collectives, local clean up days and recycling programs.

Recognizing the impact that networks can have in tackling climate change, Mastercard’s Priceless Planet Coalition enables organizations of all sizes to contribute in a meaningful way to the collective fight against climate change. By contributing to the Coalition or joining likeminded organizations such as 1derful, Archa and Frank Green as members, local businesses can contribute to the future of our planet by supporting a combined effort to restore 100 million trees by 2025.

Throughout Australian Open 2022 where Mastercard is rallying sports fans to ‘Love All’ the tournament has to offer, including the planet on which it takes place, the organization is taking expressions of interest from local businesses, including SMEs, to support the Priceless Planet Coalition initiative. For more information on how your business can get involved, e-mail Pricelessplanetaustralasia@mastercard.com.

According to Richard Wormald, Division President, Australasia, Mastercard, the research reinforces that implementing sustainable business practices must be a key agenda item for 2022 and beyond, alongside the need for leaders to take collective action against climate change.

“Tackling the global climate crisis isn’t possible without everyone’s involvement, no matter how big or small their footprint is, and Australians are looking to organizations to step up and do their part in protecting the planet. Taking collective action provides an opportunity to reduce overheads and time-consuming administration for SMEs while contributing to a greater output and result for the environment.”

The role of technology in empowering us all to create a more sustainable future
Australian consumers and business leaders are open to using technology to become more sustainable (61% and 72%, respectively). The majority of consumers who make efforts to track their carbon footprint or sustainable behavior do so via technology such as apps or wearables (84%), while a quarter (25%) said they would purchase more products and services from brands that allowed them to track their carbon consumption.

Nearly three quarters (72%) of business leaders are interested in adopting new technologies to improve their sustainable practices, including data analytics (45%), automation technology (42%) and blockchain (32%), which can enable brands to trace and share product lineage, so customers can make informed purchases.

“In the digital age, businesses and consumers alike can leverage technology to track and manage carbon and other emissions across the value chain, from sourcing materials and manufacturing to final distribution and personal consumption. Mastercard is committed to using technology and its global network to inspire and enable collective action that fosters a more sustainable digital economy,” concluded Wormald.

Planting roots for a profitable and sustainable future
While being green is perceived by some to be more costly, more than half of Australian businesses (55%) are confident that implementing these initiatives will increase their profitability in 2022 – a belief that shopper sentiment seems to support.

One in three (34%) Australians say they always choose sustainable products and services over non-sustainable options if the cost is the same, while 32% would still choose the more sustainable option even if slightly more expensive. Just over half (53%) of Australian businesses say they intend to diversify their product or service offering this year to make it more sustainable, meeting this growing customer demand.

Overall, making purchases that benefit the environment is now considered to be on par with supporting local Australian businesses (53%) in the eyes of climate-savvy consumers, and only slightly behind making purchases that save them money (60%).

Mastercard’s commitment to empowering others to be a positive force for the environment
In addition to its Priceless Planet Coalition, Mastercard continues to expand its global offering of more sustainable and action-focused initiatives through a range of products and programs to support customers and partners. This includes:

  • The Mastercard Carbon Calculator, developed in collaboration with Doconomy, provides month-on-month insights on a person’s estimated footprint across a variety of spending categories, helping them better understand their impact on the environment[1].
  • Sustainable Cards — As part of its mission to maximise sustainable product innovation and security investments, Mastercard’s Global DigiSec Lab analyses the material makeup of cards to assess environmental claims and leads academic research on environmentally friendly ways to recycle existing plastic cards. To date, 198 financial institutions in 59 countries worldwide have issued Mastercard cards made from approved recycled, recyclable and bio-sourced materials.
  • Wildlife Impact Cards – Mastercard has teamed up with Conservation International to protect and restore wildlife habitats around the world, including priority areas equal to 40 million hectares of landscapes and 4.5 square kilometers of seascapes globally by 2030. The Wildlife Impact Cards are designed to give people with a passion for nature and the environment a way to help protect Wildlife and their habitats. This unique card program highlights the urgency for action by having the card’s expiration date reflect the potential extinction date of many Critically Endangered species.

[1] The Carbon Calculator is currently available in a number of international markets, with Mastercard actively seeking to partner with a local financial institution to bring it to Australia.

For more information on how your organization can support Mastercard’s Priceless Planet Coalition in Australia, please e-mail Pricelessplanetaustralasia@mastercard.com.

For more information on the Priceless Planet Coalition more broadly, visit Mastercard.com.au.

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The research was commissioned by Mastercard and conducted by Lonergan Research in accordance with the ISO 20252 standard. Lonergan Research surveyed 1000 Australian Business Leaders and 2000 Employees/Consumers, all 18+. Surveys were distributed throughout Australia including both capital city and non-capital city areas. The survey was conducted online amongst members of a permission-based panel, between 24 December 2021 and 7 January 2022. After interviewing, data was weighted to the latest population estimates sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

About Mastercard (NYSE: MA), www.mastercard.com 
Mastercard is a global technology company in the payments industry. Our mission is to connect and power an inclusive, digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere by making transactions safe, simple, smart and accessible. Using secure data and networks, partnerships and passion, our innovations and solutions help individuals, financial institutions, governments and businesses realize their greatest potential. Our decency quotient, or DQ, drives our culture and everything we do inside and outside of our company. With connections across more than 210 countries and territories, we are building a sustainable world that unlocks priceless possibilities for all.

Mastercard Communications Contact
Luke McClelland, Manager, Communications
+61 417 761 139 l Luke.McClelland@mastercard.com

Agency Communications Contact
Charlotte Hartley-Wilson
+61 424 855 835 l Charlotte.Hartley-Wilson@elevenpr.com.au