In a rapidly changing world, there is a growing demand for companies to prioritise ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) factors in their business operations.
Amie Lyone, Co-CEO, COS Australia’s largest family-owned and operated supplier of Office Products discusses how the company moved the dial when it comes to the importance of ESG and its impacts.
There has been growing support in recent years for more importance to be placed on the ESG of a business. It helps organisations create and sustain long-term value in a rapidly changing world and has an impact on corporate reputation, risk reduction, opportunity management and cultural and intrinsic values of a business.
We believe in creating a community environment where people are passionate about what they do and feel proud to be a part of something bigger. As a private family-owned business, we’re custodians of our family’s legacy and feel a strong sense of responsibility to give back to our community and contribute to a sustainable future. At the heart of our success are the people we surround ourselves with and the drive to continuously grow and improve.
We’ve been focused on sustainability for the last decade and have many great initiatives. We are very proud that by the end of 2023, COS will have achieved 100% renewable energy for our operations across the country. Behind this commitment is a detailed plan to understand our carbon footprint with opportunities and steps to influence, reduce and eliminate.
To further demonstrate its commitment, COS has partnered with the Carbon Reduction Institute and its certification program. This program helps businesses reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and positions them as leaders in the growing low-carbon economy.
Over the past few years, COS has implemented several initiatives to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and has made significant progress.
COS’ third biggest emission is our delivery. We have implemented various initiatives focused on enhancing fuel efficiency including delivering larger orders and removing small orders, offering customers set delivery days also helps to consolidate deliveries to a specific area on a given day. We are continually looking for ways to improve. Recently, we’ve been trialling an electric van, Electra, in our Canberra warehouse, with a long-term goal to make our freight transport 100 percent electric.
COS has been focusing on reducing its electricity consumption for many years. In addition to installing the largest solar farm in the industry, COS has been replacing its traditional lighting systems with energy-efficient LED lights. This helped to reduce the company’s overall energy consumption and lower its associated emissions.
COS has implemented several initiatives to reduce waste across the country. These initiatives not only reduce emissions but also demonstrate our commitment to sustainability and responsible waste management. Packaging was a big focus for us and our intention and commitments are to reduce packaging waste and phase out single-use plastics across our product range. We are a member of with Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (“APCO”), who focuses on creating a sustainable packaging system by setting targets, providing guidance and support, and monitoring progress towards achieving its goals. We’ve made a lot of changes over a four-year time period. This includes eliminating plastic bags in delivery boxes, trialling honeycomb paper wrap to replace plastic bubble wrap and our warehouses nationwide now use HeapsGood compostable eco-mailer bags for small customer packages.
To reduce air travel emissions and the company’s impact on the environment, COS encouraged alternative modes of communication such as video conferencing or teleconferencing, which eliminated the need for travel, while hybrid working has reduced the travel emissions of staff commuting into the office.
As a family business, we’re very passionate about giving back. The Lyone Foundation was created in 2013, by COS Founder and Chairman, Dominique Lyone as a vehicle of giving back. It is thanks to our people that COS has been successful enough to give at least $1 million per year to the Lyone Foundation and, over the last decade the Lyone Foundation has donated over $16 million in funds to local charities in our communities across Australia, delivering inspiring initiatives and programs.
We are committed to making a positive impact on the lives of people in need, and we believe that everyone deserves access to education, healthcare, and basic necessities. Through our partnerships and programs, we strive to empower communities and individuals to reach their full potential and achieve a better future. Together, we can create a more equitable and just world for all.
To date, we’ve supported over one hundred deserving local charities that receive minimal government funding including St Vincent de Paul Society, United Way Australia and Anglicare Victoria.
After collaborating with Supply Nation and Reconciliation Australia, COS launched our inaugural Reflect Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) in March 2018. Following the success of Reflect, we began our second RAP, Innovate in November 2021, The Innovate RAP outlines COS’ commitment to reconciliation with the First Nations peoples of Australia. The plan covers four areas: Relationships, Respect, Opportunities, and Governance and sets out specific actions and targets to achieve in each area, including building relationships with First Nations communities and businesses, providing training and employment opportunities, and promoting cultural understanding within COS. COS aims to create a more inclusive and respectful workplace and to contribute to the economic empowerment of First Nations peoples. COS has maintained a RAP Working Group, which meets monthly to drive and monitor the implementation of our deliverables and commitments.
Combatting Modern Slavery
We are committed to ensuring that all of our products are sourced in a responsible and sustainable manner and that our suppliers adhere to the highest standards of ethical conduct. By upholding these values, we not only do what is right, but we also contribute to the betterment of society as a whole. Respecting the human rights of those affected by our business activities is important. We endeavour to make a positive and real difference to our immediate and greater community through our operations and wider supply chains. We scrutinise every element of the supply chain and place a high level of importance on the behaviour of the total supply chain, as we believe this is where COS can make the most significant impact.
COS has submitted its third successive modern slavery statement in December 2022 and our policies and procedures ensure that we have strong frameworks to enable us to assess and address modern slavery risks, including a robust working group committee and auditing procedures.
These are just some of the ways COS is improving its ESG. As a private family-run business, we are always looking for ways to improve and this is a continuous journey for us and one we are very passionate about.