Sustainable business : the New Zealand plastics sector : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Resource and Environmental Planning at Massey University
The usual approach to problem-solving is to identify and remove the cause of the problem. Sometimes this is not possible because the cause cannot be found; because there are too many causes; or because the cause is human and cannot be removed. In such cases we are usually paralysed. Most of the major problems in the world will not be solved by more analysis. There is a need for design. There is a need to design a way forward – leaving the cause in place (De Bono, 1999, p. 140) To make progress towards sustainable development sustainability must be translated into action. For the New Zealand plastics sector this will require significant change to existing business strategies, practices, procedures and products. These changes will need to be supported by government policies and consumers. Society makes decisions in a complex and integrated way. This complexity is very apparent within the New Zealand plastics sector with its vast range of polymers, products, and markets, and its often conflicting consumer demands and expectations. The central issues the industry must address in working towards sustainable development are the use of non-renewable petrochemical resources, the use of toxic or hazardous chemicals and additives and the creation of solid waste and litter. Existing sustainable business models tend to focus on problem solving at specific levels of business operation. There is a need to provide a more cohesive message to the business community. Integrating sustainable development with all three levels of business strategy at corporate, business unit and operational levels, with the full commitment of business owners and shareholders is required. To engage a higher proportion of the industry in such changes strong leadership and market support is required, alongside the provision of simple and effective ideas, tools and resources to improve the capability of industry to operate in a sustainable manner. To reach a state of sustainable business a tipping point must be established – where environmentally sustainable business practices become standard business practice and environmental excellence is rewarded with market success. To move away from an image of unsustainable practices the New Zealand plastics sector will need to exceed expectations, to create products that are not just sustainable, but that improve the quality of our environment. The New Zealand Plastics Sustainability Initiative and Best Practice Programme have been developed by the New Zealand plastics industry, as a result of this research, to create an environment where the ideas, tools and capabilities required to achieve this state are able to be inspired, developed and reinforced.