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The Warsaw Voice » Business » December 21, 2012
Business & Economy
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The Future is Green
December 21, 2012   
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Polish companies have to start focusing on sustainability, even if just to keep up with the competition, best-selling Swedish author, columnist and speaker Per Grankvist tells the Voice in an interview.

Please explain sustainability. Exactly what is it?
What it comes down to is how you use resources. Sustainability is a way of using resources that is smart, not stupid. All it is is common sense.

How are sustainable practices good for a business’s bottom line?
You have to look at it from the perspective whether we are using resources in the best way. If I have a plastic bottle or a Coke plastic bottle and I can have that bottle do the same function holding liquid but with 30 percent less plastic in it, then why shouldn’t I? Not using it is stupid and doing it is smart, that’s the bottom line right there.

You have said that sustainability will have a greater impact on the future of business in the next 10 years than the internet. Can you elaborate?
I came to that conclusion having met people who sort of speak with that voice. You tend to overestimate what can happen in one year and underestimate what can happen in three years.

CEOs are starting to get it. If you look 10 years back we did not have examples of big companies, big brand names putting an emphasis on sustainability but now we are getting that. Now you have Nestle, you have Unilever and Nike that are actually being run more and more from a sustainability point of view, which means a local company here in Warsaw cannot say that’s only for Sweden to think about or that’s only for another company to think about. The competition is here and they are thinking about it and that’s why it’s going to be so different.

When it comes to sustainability, how are we doing globally?
We’re not doing that well yet. Politics is inherently local. The problems we’re facing are not local at all, they’re global. These global companies are perfectly suited to address the global issues because they are global.

How is Poland doing?
I’m not that familiar with Poland yet. I had a great discussion with the heads of an university and a business school. I think their understanding is that this change is coming and they’re trying to equip the students with the fact that you have to keep unlearning and re-learning in a changing world.

In terms of big Polish companies... I can assure you they will have to face competition from the international companies that are here in Poland. So even if generally Polish companies are not visible on the international stage, in terms of sustainability, they very soon will be because once again it’s common sense.

Per Grankvist is the author of the best-selling book The How - Ways That Innovative Companies Thrive Through Sustainability.

Grankvist, 36, of Stockholm, Sweden, is known in the international business community for pushing more efficient use of resources. The vice chairman of Fairtrade in Sweden, he writes about sustainability for www.csrwire.com. He is a married father of two children.

Grankvist addressed academic, student, civic and business leaders in Warsaw on corporate responsibility and sustainability in business. He was the keynote speaker at a recent business conference hosted by the Scandinavian-Polish Chamber of Commerce.
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