At Sustainability Master Class Final pitch audience got to hear six fantastic pitches. Korjaamon Vintti was full of sustainability experts, as participants and mentors got together for the last time during this program.
There were three different categories: Overall Winner, Best Pitch & Most Innovative Solution. Winners were:
Overall Winner: Fidel
Best Pitch: Systemico
Most Innovative Solution: Systemico
In this post is a short description of each solution. Team order is the same as in Final Pitch.
Kai Tuo Zhe
An Unvending Machine with smart technology that incentivizes people to recycle their unwanted mobile phones while simultaneously handling collection and sorting. A recycling agency who collects discarded phones from users and redirects them to the appropriate business unit within the value chain.
Fidel (Overall Winner)
MineLoop creates a platform for effective stakeholder dialogue and a tool for continual engagement. Combining hard data from water quality measurements with soft data of feedback from local communities they create data that is valuable for all the stakeholders.
The winning team Fidel with Master Class mentor Susanna Horn from Outotec.
Systemico (Best Pitch & Most Innovative Solution)
MetalPass is a free app for consumers in which they can track the metals of their new electronics. In addition, the solution also increases the volume of recycling by giving a voucher for a consumer who has the app and takes a broken device back to the retailer.
SRE GOLD RUSH Oy has built a solution to prevent unsustainable mining. Sustainable Resource Extraction Certification is a certificate, but also a way for companies to get consultation to maintain and improve sustainability.
Mind Miners is an ethical consulting company that offers multidisciplinary and multicultural high level service that enables negotiating and maintaining SLO in different context in the mining industry. We also aim to build strong partnership with the organization and individuals we are working in mining or another related field.
The Toads will totally change the way e-waste is handled in Bangladesh. They will establish easily accessible centers for collection and recycling of e-waste – Hubs – in the city centres of Dhaka and Chittagong, two of the biggest cities in Bangladesh.
To hear more about the solutions created at Sustainability Master Class, join us at Sustainability Science Day event on 11th May in the University of Helsinki, see more here:
Two intensive days packed with various activities pushed all teams over their limits, and brought everyone closer together.
The Sustainability Master Class (organised by University of Helsinki, in cooperation with Outotec) reached the first climax at its two-day Boot Camp. Here, the teams had opportunities to advance on their projects, and the mentors gave valuable assistance to all participants. When teams arrived to the event, the challenges had only been examined on theoretical approaches, after leaving the Boot Camp, teams have already come up with practical solutions (solution 1.0) for their problems.
The event started with individual self-evaluating and team building. Each participant got a chance to re-assess themselves and their motivation: what they are good at, what they are looking for from the class, what they are planning to achieve, what inspire them in life, etc.
After that, teams took part in the Marshmallow Challenge. In 12 minutes, every team had to build a freestanding structure that could hold a piece of marshmallow as high as possible. They received 10 spaghetti sticks and 1 metre of white tape for the “construction”.
There were a lot of discussions and analyses how to do the task. Every one really worked hard together in their own team to solve the puzzle. In the end, after much screaming and laughter, team Kai Tuo Zhe won the contest when their tower could raise the marshmallow to the height of 67cm. But truly, all teams won, for each became more attached as a team.
Assisted by Helsinki Think Company, all teams went through two days loaded with tasks, exercises, and activities. From defining problems to finding solutions, from getting and giving feedback to performing the pitches, every one could feel the streams of energy and ideas flowing through themselves as well as their teammates. Stressful, tired, and laborious, perhaps, but the outcomes are so rewarding. Big thanks to Jarkko and Meeri, who facilitated the working process so well and so cleverly and so aggressively that we must say, we love to hate you! (No, we don’t hate you. Probably.)
Other extensively helpful assistance came from the class’ mentors. They spared their precious time for joining the event. Using excellent knowledge and tremendous experiences, they helped every team excessively in solving the challenges. Without their guidance, the teams perhaps couldn’t go that far with the projects. Thank you, mentors! We promise that we will use you exhaustively until the end!
It is so amazing that when you work with each other, when you share the happiness and the difficulties, when you go through good and bad times together, when you split a croissant 50/50 because all have ran out, from acquaintances you become friends.
Of course real friends then forced you to swim in the cold lake after hot sauna. Sauna was definitely the best treatment to release tensions and tiredness. It’s also a chance to socialise and get to know other participants better. If two and a half hours of warm steam, cold water, and tasty drinks weren’t enough, social butterflies could mingle more in the hotel’s lounge. And many did just that. And it was delightful.
Thanks everyone for your lovely companies! Cheers!
Have you ever thought about changing the world? Being the brave one who makes the difference, contributing with your grain of sand? Most probably yes, and thereafter noticed this coin has two sides. The first one is that you believe the solution is so simple: just educate, organize, have more respect, be more fair, no more corruption, BE SUSTAINABLE… And when you start to look for the best way of doing it, the implementation, then you notice that there are 7.400 millions of humans on Earth and you need to tell everyone your idea and try to explain why we should follow the change. That is the second side of the coin.
A couple of weeks ago, we decided to start making the change with the support of the University of Helsinki and Outotec. We are a group of enthusiast young students, researchers and workers (and most probably all at the same time) with very different backgrounds, working together to take the challenge of making mining sustainable.
We aim at solving a problem that affects everyone either directly or indirectly even if mining may seem distant from our everyday lives. How would developing a disruptive business model for mining increase sustainability? As you probably know, mining can have a huge impact on the environment, societies, and economy. History has demonstrated the destructive power of minor errors if the processes are not adequately controlled. Most mining projects are located in small towns where local people do not see all the benefits of mining, and may rather regard it as an invasion. We decided to set our targets high and solve this problem, and we will do our best to succeed and bring benefits for everyone. The figure below describes the starting point of our journey.
During the first weeks of research we have found several interesting facts and recent developments related to the mining industry, recycling, energy consumption, and use of resources. Bullet points summarize the main points.
A huge amount of literature has been published concerning moving the industry towards sustainability.
The biggest problems of mining are water related.
Huge social problems between local people and the mining industry.
According Porter & Kramer, capitalism should be reinvented to put focus on creation of shared value.
Circular economy including extended lifetimes, reuse, remanufacturing, and recycling seems vital together with increased efficiency, decreased consumption, and replacement of metals with bio-materials
100% recycling rate of materials is not possible, hence mining industry may always be needed at some level.
We found that material consumption is related to lifestyle choices: the more you consume the bigger amount materials is needed.
One of the most important discoveries was when we tried to respond to the question: who are the key stakeholders? And we can summarize our response today as, everyone and everything.
Developing a sustainable business model for mining is not an easy task, especially because we are talking about a sector that is non-renewable by nature. Unsustainability is inherent, but after reading, researching, discussing, and presenting the different points of view, we believe that it is possible to carry out the business of mining. Only revolutionary transition shall take place first.
One day you say “I need to challenge myself” and you have a missions of “doing something great,” so what is our advice? DO IT! The world will thank you.
Gold Rush: Elina Salo, Germán Fernandez, Jack Räisänen, Noora Oikarinen, Panu Maula and Suvi Suojanen
For the past thirty years, there has been a significant increase in environmental legislation and regulation of mining. Lately the mining companies have also become more aware of the possibility of costly conflicts due to social issues. Social conflicts may arise in spite of the economic benefits the mining operations bring to the local communities. Due to the raise of awareness around the world, the mining industry is facing new challenges regarding how to ensure profitability together with inclusive operations and development.
The social license to operate (SLO) concept was introduced in the mid 90´s and the mining industry was one of the firsts to utilize it, mainly to manage the aroused social risks. Previous case studies implicate that there are several good ways of gaining and obtaining SLO. These include e.g. early and ever ongoing communication, transparency and availability of information and consideration of the local culture in decision making. The bodies that can give SLO to a company are often the societies closest to the actual site of mining operations. But does this actually work in practice? How challenging is the implementation of guidelines at sites? Are the mining companies actually walking the talk?
Our group believes the issue is not whether mining should take place or not, rather than how and where it should happen. It is about reforming the ways of mining operations to ensure environmentally and socially acceptable mining in that specific location.
Adjusting to new ways of thinking can be difficult and unfortunately there is not one universal formula for mining companies to gain and maintain SLO. And even well designed and carefully executed projects may not be successful. But one thing is sure, the SLO can only be born when good relationships between different stakeholders are established with time. That is why we wonder; what makes mining company equitable in the eyes of the community? Can a mining company actually fit in to the society or is it always going to be an outsider?
Written by, Team Fidel: Dukpa Rebecca, Karjalainen Emmi, Kemppainen Jenni, Pakkanen Taru, Sainio Tuomas, Vänttinen Kirsikka
Leapfrogging is a theory of development that advocates for modern, currently-available technologies to be adopted in developing countries for the sake of sustainability. What does it mean for mining and how can it benefit the industry? Opportunities and challenges abound. In the words of Marlowe, the great British playwright: “To jump or not to jump; that is the question”. In the following paragraphs, we shall do a little looking, in hopes of encouraging a little leaping.
Developing countries have a fundamental choice: they can mimic the industrialized nations, and go through an economic development phase that is dirty, wasteful and creates an enormous legacy of environmental pollution; or they can leapfrog over some of the steps originally followed by industrialized countries, and incorporate currently-available modern and efficient technologies into their development process. (Goldemberg, 1998)
Leapfrogging is in essence the theory of “trickle-down technology”, where developing countries seek to gain from adopting modern technologies without the burden of constructing, replacing, or maintaining legacy systems. One much lauded example is the transformative effect that the proliferation of cell phones has had in Sub-Saharan Africa; modern cellular technology has revolutionized banking, commerce and healthcare in developing economies, in addition to serving its more obvious purpose of telecommunication.
The potential benefits of leapfrogging are vast, because it creates an environment for emergent shared value; however, there is one regrettably common reason why leapfrogging might fall short: the nominal costs of modern technologies are often insuperable. In the mining industry, while antiquated technologies are often nominally cheaper, they are less efficient and costlier to the environment. Indeed, the environmental externalities essentially constitute a subsidy from local communities to the mining industry. As such, sustainable solutions are actually cheaper in the long run.
During our group’s first brainstorming session, we got to a point where we asked one another: “Who are the main actors in this entire leapfrogging thing?” The answer, in a word, is stakeholders, i.e. anyone who stands to gain from trade. Hence the responsibility for leapfrogging lies not only on firms within the mining industry but is shared by a large number of stakeholders who include public officials, local communities and NGOs amongst others.
According to stakeholder theory by R. Edward Freeman, a successful company should be aware of the needs, the role and importance of its stakeholders. In this theory, management’s main responsibility is to provide value for the stakeholders. In addition, the company should act so that they avoid any damage to the stakeholder relations or even destroy its relations with them. According to Freeman’s theory, the company’s operations are ethically and morally sustainable if it takes into account the needs of different stakeholders, and recognizes that different groups are important to the company’s own operations. By observing stakeholder relations in a composed way, the company aims to morally and ethically run a sustainable business. Therefore, stakeholder theory encourages companies to leapfrog to achieve sustainability.
Stakeholders can be any group that is one way or another linked to the company or is in the company’s sphere of influence. Often companies’ important primary stakeholders may include financiers, owners, customers and staff. Furthermore, for example the public sector can be taken as a stakeholder. In the stakeholder network, can also be included indirect stakeholders of the company, or the directly affected parties of the company, such as subcontractors of subcontractors. Stakeholders can also be nature and people living near the company’s site.
The mining industry is dependent on a large auxiliary value chain, which presents challenges and opportunities for leapfrogging. We would like to take energy (production & consumption), waste management, recycling, and ore extraction as some examples.
Electricity accounts for 32 per cent of a mine’s total energy use, so finding ways to reduce energy use can result in significant savings for mining companies. Moreover, pressure from government regulators and a need to reduce energy costs and carbon footprint are pushing the mining industry to use more renewable energy.
The attraction of solar power could even be greater due to the fact that mines are located far from the grid. In remote locations, the supply of conventional energy is often very critical and costly. An additional advantage is that solar power can happily coexist with many different secondary fuel types such as natural gas, LNG, LPG, biogas, industrial off-gas, coal methane or diesel. There have been many projects and concepts dedicated to the use of renewables in the mining industry.
One study indicates that adopting renewable energy can result in a positive impact in share valuations across the mining industry. Even without energy storage solutions or changing consumption behaviour, mining companies with many remote locations can reduce their total costs by up to 2% by implementing renewable energy integration.
Waste management is the collection, transportation, and disposal of garbage, sewage and other waste product. Waste that is improperly stored can cause health, safety and economic problems. Mining waste also impacts the environment. As managing and storing waste efficiently and safely is costly and labour intensive, the mining industry particularly stands to gain from leapfrogging in waste management. As it stands, waste-related accidents are all too commonplace in mines around the world. The consequences of spillages, leakages, etc., are not only economic but also social, culminating in the loss of social license to operate. The losses from ill-conducted waste management, therefore, are a major issue for the mining industry.
Mining companies may adopt certain strategies to improve their waste management, such as commercialising waste or re-using it for other mining purposes. There is a call for an integrated, or circular, approach towards environmentally friendly mining with an emphasis on recycling and reuse, the recovery of value-added products and exploiting biotechnologies.
Waste management regulation is often sorely lacking, particularly in developing countries. Where regulatory requirements do exist, there is often a lack of sufficient monitoring and governing. Most of the time, companies should take the initiative and manage their waste properly, in order to save money and ensure their long-term operations. At the same time, they might do well to encourage better legal framework and industrial standards within their local communities. This would strengthen stakeholder relationships and give proactively green companies a competitive advantage.
Mining, as a process, can generally be divided in to two types: surface mining and underground mining. Out of these two, surface mining is more commonly used to this day. The main advantages of surface mining compared to underground mining are its operational flexibility, ore recovery, productivity, safety and cost. The obvious downside of surface mining is its large size right on the surface where the soil and rock is removed to gain access to the wanted mineral or ore. This operation affects large areas and can be very harmful to local ecosystems.
Because of the high demand of various metals in recent history, the largest surface mineral deposits are becoming exhausted. This means that mines will need to go deeper into the ground to access new mineral deposits, and subsequently underground mines will become more prevalent. As mineral deposits become increasingly inaccessible due to the very nature of underground mining, greater innovation will be needed in both process-design and mining equipment. These are the areas that could also hold opportunities for leapfrogging.
Recycling metals should be easy, because metals are, in theory, infinitely recyclable with no quality loss. However, recycling can be inefficient, too difficult or non-existent because of people’s habits, bad product-design or poor recycling technologies. The sustainable use of metals should be based on a closed loop of metals, and leapfrogging in recycling could help achieve or at least come closer to that goal.
Recycling copper in India: the demand in housing, telecommunication, power and transportation is on the rise, so also the demand of copper is increasing rapidly. India is a net importer of copper and has little primary production of copper itself, so the need of secondary resources for copper is rising. The recycling business of copper is unorganized and unregulated. Efficient, organized and market driven recycling of copper could act as an important feedstock of resources for the high demand.
In summary, developing economies stand to gain the most from leapfrogging into the future with current-day technology. Their businesses partners, such as the mining industry, also stand to benefit in the spirit of shared value. The availability of modern, exciting green technologies presents an opportunity for local, innovative implementations of leapfrogging. Technology is certainly a crucial component for tackling our increasingly ubiquitous environmental challenges, where regulation alone is not enough. Once more, to quote that great poet Percy Shelly: To jump or not to jump? Having briefly surveyed different aspects of leapfrogging, it becomes quite clear that leapfrogging is the way forward for the mining industry. What does this all mean in practice then? The attached photo is a teaser of things to come!
Written by, 蛙跳开拓者 (Wa Tiao Kai Tuo Zhe): Bui Vinh, Haakana Anna, Knight Christopher, Korhonen Milla, Skolc Francesca, Xu Junhua
Landfills have been the most common method of organized waste disposal and remain so in many places around the world. What if the developing countries could leapfrog to sustainable waste treatment systems where scarce natural resources can be recycled and health and environmental problems avoided? And at the same time create jobs and healthy businesses?
Waste of electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) such as computers, TV-sets, fridges and cell phones is one the fastest growing waste streams in the world. WEEE is a complex mixture of materials and components that because of their hazardous content can cause major environmental and health problems, if not managed properly. Moreover, the production of modern electronics requires the use of scarce and expensive resources. Therefore, the treatment and recycling of electronics at the end of their life is essential.
Increasing amount of WEEE is a severe and growing problem in many developing countries. For example, in Bangladesh, rapid urbanization and economic growth are big factors behind the increasing amount of WEEE but on top of that, used equipment from developed countries is being sent to Bangladesh often through illegal routes. As Bangladesh does not have a proper recycling system for WEEE, lot of the stuff ends up in landfills where children risking their health often scavenge it.
With these aspects, our solution is to bring WEEE recycling culture and its application technologies in a clean, environment and society friendly way- by WEEE hubs. WEEE hubs designed for an easy way of recycling. These hubs are little hydrometallurgy labs which strategically located on the places where most electronic devices are used by people, like universities, maintenance offices, computer cafeterias (which is a culture in Bangladesh) etc. These hubs will provide people to reach easily and sell their broken and unfixable electronic devices. We are also creating solutions to the potential problematic issues. The question of this concept is- how large system we need to create a win-win solution, while extracting valuable metals such as gold copper and aluminum from WEEEs and let the local people earn some money from their trash, however, at the same time keeping the hazardous solid and liquid waste away from the common areas. Our answer is hidden in our little WEEE hubs; they will let us do the business cleaner and send the products to the bigger refineries outside the cities. We would like to create a sustainable recycling culture, a responsible societies for better future.
“We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.”
Recycle WEEE every day!
Written by, The Toads: Annukka Aaltonen, Kirsi Hakalahti, Mikko Pietilä, Shariful Islam, Tekin Uyan, Tommi Kauppinen
Can mining industry ever be truly sustainable? As a part of the Sustainability Master Class, the team Systemico is convinced that by entwining future production with utilization of reclaimed sources is the way forward. Through the incentivization across the supply/value chain and an emphasis on ethical and sustainability encouraging traceability of minerals and minimizing the potential for harm, we believe in a better tomorrow.
At this very moment about 50% of all of the copper is in fact already recycled when their primary use has come to an end.
As such, we have two very distinct visions for the future. Firstly, increased re-use of reclaimed materials. At this very moment about 50% of all of the copper is in fact already recycled when their primary use has come to an end. This particular is prospect based on the idea of involving the mining industry actors in the whole cycle of a metal, from the extraction to reclamation. Essentially, it can be thought that environmental harm by mining is justified by economic opportunities it brings in form of employment and sharing proceeds from mining activities in form of taxes or royalties. In primary extraction we are thinking about exploring models based on offering mining as a service where incentives are made to minimize the environmental impact of operation. From there on traceability of the material could be used to see the “mass balance” in the whole system where materials are ending up to and to increase the share of materials recycled.
Secondly, and looking even further into future, if most of the activities in mining are automated, there will be less positive externalities created by the mining industry for the national or local economies. In a case where a conventional mining site of thousands of workers may be made more secure and reliable through use of technology, the need for manpower is considerably diminished. How could this change the approach governments look at mining industry given that the metaphorical (and occasionally real tailing related) spillovers are lessened?
The mining industry can become sustainable. In order to achieve the change we just need to think outside the box – actually far outside, and also, minimize the potential negative repercussions. We believe that by developing disruptive new business models a company can create significant competitive advantage in this situation by emphasizing on the sustainable and safer business practices related to mining.
We believe that any such disruptive business model needs to cover the whole cycle of materials, from primary mineral extraction to recycling. Will it be difficult to achieve? No doubt. Can we really do something if we dream big enough? Absolutely. Is this out of the box? So far out that you are a ball.
Written by, Systemico: Kalle Aerikkala, Ville Ding, Viivi Haimi, Kaisa Manninen, Pekka Mäkinen & Minna Nevalainen Continue reading “Journey Towards New Business Models in Mining”
The goods we utilize everyday appear as mundane, ubiquitous, and even intimate. Thus, have you thought where these everyday products origin from? Have you thought of how many minerals and metals there needs to be extracted and utilized to make the products? And what this extraction of minerals implies in practice for all the stakeholders involved in these mining processes? Ethical consumption, awareness of environmental impact of products, and transparency of companies are today much after sought information for consumers. Retail companies are publishing environmental and social reports about their actions and products. However, the reports do not always include information of obtaining of raw materials for their product, one example is Samsung’s life-cycle assessment of mobile phones. The report suggests that the obtaining of raw-materials for phones is responsible for 52,6% of the environmental impact for phones, but it does not suggest what the reason is for the high percentage. The increasing demand of minerals and metals, with the concurrent consumer demand for ethical mining practices, have put the mining industry in a tough situation.
Whilst the market is demanding more production resources from our common utilities, the local communities affected by mining operations are protesting these actions. To address these issues, we have set up an interdisciplinary group as part of the Sustainability Master Class program facilitated by the University of Helsinki, Helsinki Think Company, Demos Helsinki and Outotec in co-operation. Our group, referred upon as Mind Miners, aspires to lend a helping hand to the mining industry in the journey of becoming socially sustainable. Our aim is to assist the industry by providing them with a practical framework of tools applied the establishment and maintenance of a social license to operate (SLO). The SLO is one of the proposed means to satisfy society’s expectations regarding mining issues, which are often not met in full legal compliance with state regulation.
Unlike other businesses, the location of mine is based on the minerals found in bedrocks. Therefore, the mining industry is faced with problems from local communities defending their land against the industry. In terms of social sustainability, the locational choices of the mines might lead to quarrels with the local stakeholders involved. Peru can be mentioned as an example. Although the mining industry has increased the economic growth with 6%, it has not improved the local life, therefore, the locals are disappointed. In many cases the communication with different stakeholders has been inefficient resulting in a general mistrust in the company. The operations might even lament the wishes of the local communities. These examples underline the importance of careful considerations of the social issues related to mining operations. This implies not only the proper respect of labor rights within the mine, but on a broader scale the inclusion of all of those possibly affected by the operations.
SLO is not only beneficial to the society but also for the company. Both the company and the society can achieve shared benefit by having mutual trust and understanding. An effectively designed SLO will help to improve the living standards of the people located nearby the mining area and reduce and/or eliminate the negative social, environmental, and economic impacts. On the other hand, mining sector can enhance their image with different stakeholders and have uninterrupted mining operations. By having good relation with the key local stakeholders mining companies can enjoy both short term and long term benefits. The SLO is particularly supportive in case of disasters at the mining site. Accidents happen, but if the SLO is not tuned properly then the actions of the mines might be shot down by the local community. Losing the SLO might mean losing the mine totally.
It is nicer to live with neighbors that you get along with, than with people you can’t stand.
Therefore, is it important to remember to lift the positive aspects of the mining industry forth, rather than expressing the negative aspects. Mining has been around for centuries, and creates jobs in rural areas where unemployment rates otherwise would be high. As John Maynard Keynes said “The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones”. We wish to break old ways of thinking and find nearest route to a solution where everyone benefits for mining industries when obtaining SLO’s. Most importantly it is to remember to listen to the wishes of the local communities and to assess the relevance of different stakeholders. Even if the locals do not have too much power to influence the business itself, their opinion is vital for miners to operate. It can almost be compared to a neighbor feud. It is nicer to live with neighbors that you get along with, than with people you can’t stand. The same could be said about mining. Without stakeholder’s trust the operations would be difficult and problematic.
Written by Mind Miners: Aryal Nabin, Fustioni Pirke, Häkkinen Anu, Ikonen Anna, Nieminen Lotta, Sarttila Emmi and Vehmaanperä Paula
The Sustainability Master Class, organised by the University of Helsinki, is well connected with Outotec’s sustainability mission and the sustainability-related challenges, with which Outotec’s value chain is faced.
Sustainability is becoming an increasingly powerful and complex driver in the metals and mining sector. In addition to environmental impacts, or resource-use related issues of the sector, there are also social, human-related impacts, far more difficult to define and to measure. It is becoming increasingly important for companies to start proactively integrating these issues in their strategies, risk management, technological development, human resources, supply chain management and many other functions.
Cooperating with the University of Helsinki will give Outotec a great advantage both of getting access to different branches of science simultaneously and thus a truly interdisciplinary approach, but also to young students and their out-of-the-box thinking. A combination of fresh thinking, interdisciplinarity and scientific robustness will indeed foster a field of new innovation in sustainability in our business environment.
I think content-wise, we have managed to capture some large trends, as well as opportunities and risks of the sector. These form three (strongly interlinked) challenges, for which the participants would try to find solutions.
The first challenge relates to the social license to operate, including social impacts of metals and mining, but heavily linked with the environmental impacts.
The second challenge, covering technology leapfrogging, is an interesting concept in context of the metals and mining sector. It allows the adoption of cleaner, state-of-the art technology, where prior technology has not been adopted yet, thus leaping over resource-intensive, dirtier technologies.
Given my own background, I firmly believe, that both of these above mentioned challenges, if dealt with responsibly and strategically, will be sources of competitive advantage. This leads to the third challenge, which comprises of the business case for sustainability – or strategic sustainability, as I call it sometimes. Instead of seeing sustainability as a mere cost factor, or compliance issue, we should start seeing it as a competitive edge. Saving earth’s natural resources means that we are saving energy and raw materials, leading directly to cost savings – and to more profitable business.
Developing solutions, with reduced risks for the surrounding society will have a direct business impact as well, since the continuity of operations is more certain and penalty payments might not occur. Being able to meet the tightening environmental/social legislation is something that some of the customers already require.
Also investors are setting certain requirements and this has an impact on the stock price. I guess this is the ultimate sign of sustainability becoming a business issue – investors are quick and agile in finding ways to improve the return on their investments. Even though with a very rational, mathematical and profit-focused approach, the enthusiasm of investors in sustainability is clearly a sign of the markets appreciating responsible and sustainable activities. In fact, I don’t mind under which label sustainable actions are being compartmentalized – environmental improvements, social acceptance, or financial gains – as long as these lead to concrete actions reducing the strain we have been causing so far.
Working with these issues with the participants will be an action for cross-pollinating ideas, awareness and know-how between Outotec, University of Helsinki and all participants from amazingly different backgrounds. I was happy to see a list of so many participants, with extremely proficient qualifications. I am sure we will be able to generate some great and sustainable solutions to our challenges!
By Susanna Horn
Life Cycle Model Development Manager, Outotec
Sustainability Master Class Mentor
This year we have started a new collaboration between University of Helsinki and Outotec in form of Sustainability Master Class. We received some 50 really outstanding applications for the program and the group of participants that will take part in it is an interesting mix of young experts with very different backgrounds: everything from corporate environmental management and world politics to mechanical engineering and hydrobiology.