Greener BeeGreen Gadgets‘The Green Mentality’

by Jonathan Wong, Posted on April 29, 2012, Sunday

In a world of growing environmental concerns, it is no longer up to individual tree-huggers to save the planet. In fact, the green business market is rapidly gaining momentum to the point where every business should consider long-term business sustainability instead of short-term profits. BizHive Weekly takes a look at the local take on green technology and sustainability.

‘Going green’ A calculated inevitable choice

Professor D P Dash, head of school for Business and Design for Swinburne University Sarawak campus

As Asia’s high-speed export-oriented economic devel­opment strategy enters its third decade, many Asian citizens have begun to ask themselves whether the price they have paid for rapid economic growth is worth the while.

For despite the constant self-con­gratulations of governments and businesses for creating economic ‘miracles’ in Asia, accumulating evidence suggests that the other face of high-speed growth is an environmental tragedy of massive proportions.

In a world of growing environ­mental concerns, it is no longer up to individual tree-huggers to save the planet. In fact, the green business market is rapidly gain­ing momentum to the point where every business should consider long-term business sustainability instead of short-term profits.

Due to the rising awareness of environmental policies for busi­nesses around, BizHive Weekly got in touch with the Head of School for Business and Design for Swinburne University Sarawak campus Professor D P Dash on his views on the viability of the green movement towards local businesses that originally con­tributed to the degradation in the first place.

“One of the main issues that is pertinent to the incorporation of green technology in the country is that a lot of the smaller companies still view the new green movement as just a phase. Change equals risks and most businesses around try to avoid it as much as possible. Some view it as a marketing gim­mick, but the question now is – if it is a marketing gimmick, is it all-bad?” Dash remarked.

“The thing we have to keep in mind is that marketing creates awareness, interest and demand for a product. A green marketing initiative will only succeed when the target audience can under­stand and value the benefits of a product that is nature-friendly or that is produced in a nature friendly manner.”

He added that, “Obviously such initiatives succeed to different de­grees depending upon the specific product and market characteris­tics. It is not fair to label all of these initiatives as gimmicks.”

“Keeping in mind the four major green practices for businesses (en­ergy conservation, water conser­vation, pollution prevention and recycling/waste management) usually involves spending some capital, the debate in progress now is whether or not ‘going green’ is categorised as a first world prob­lem or a third world one.”

“However, isn’t there a ‘first world’ in every society? So natu­rally issues relevant to the first world are also relevant in every society,” Dash countered.

“Taking into consideration the capital outlay which is a very sensitive issue for most busi­nesses, the current technological advancements require equipment that are generally very expensive costing tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of ringgit depending on the types, sizes as well as volume of the upgrades.

“That being said, we need to take into account the general fea­sibility coupled with the return on investments. Nevertheless the issue needs to be addressed, it boils down to whether companies are willing to change and to what extent,” he rationalised.

Industry sources opined that in the current scenario on envi­ronmental regulations require businesses to upgrade some of their products and technologies and respective governments were willing to subsidise or otherwise support technological upgrades. At the same time social attitudes were changing and creating demand for greener products or practices, for example, recycling. They pointed out that social mar­keting played a vital role in this particular aspect.

“Awareness on sustainable green technology is slowly spread­ing which is good and undoubtedly with awareness comes demand and the government then also plays a vital role. However we have to take into consideration that governments are elected and often have a short planning horizon.

“On the other hand, environ­mental concerns arise mainly from long-term concerns thus it is vital that non-governmental ac­tors take a prominent role in this domain. Backed by government support the private sector should spearhead the escalation of the green movement,” he observed.

Industry sources concurred that the challenge going forward was that policies should pay more attention to sustainable developments. The real task was to convince deverlopers and busi­nesses to jump on the bandwagon to incorporate such designs and technologies which would pay forth in the long term.

“This again would lead us back to social marketing. The thing about green technology in the busi­ness context is that most people are under the impression that they need to invest in all sorts of differ­ent gizmos and gadgets without realising the fact that going green is actually very practical and also adds value to the company’s prod­ucts or services.

“But having said that, techno­logical choices for businesses is an important strategic decision. There are obvious financial considerations. More impor­tantly there is the issue of rapid technological changes as new technology is constantly evolving and businesses are continuously at risk that the technology being implemented may become redun­dant,” Dash elaborated.

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