What Is Corporate Environmental Responsibility?

Understanding the concept of corporate environmental ethics and how it helps reduce companies’ environmental impacts

The field of corporate environmental ethics aims to make humans more aware of the impacts our companies and actions have on our carbon footprints and the environment as a whole. 

Nowadays, customers look at a company as a whole, rather than just the products they provide. Consumers may value a company’s adherence to environmental ethics such as a lack of animal testing, following organic standards, or using packaging that can be recycled to help maintain a healthy planet for generations to come.

In this article, we will look at the importance of Corporate Environmental Responsibility (CER), sometimes known as corporate environmental ethics, and how we can make a change for the better. 

building and leaves - corporate environmental ethics

What Is Corporate Environmental Responsibility?

Corporate environmental responsibility is the duty of a company to operate in a way that protects the environment. This may include adhering to both government regulations and internal environmental standards. Many companies implement official Corporate Environmental Responsibility action plans that set green objectives for each aspect of their business practices.

Corporate environmental responsibility focuses on using resources wisely. Often, CER requires business leaders to invest more time or money into their business in order to lower environmental impacts upfront, although these steps often lead to cost savings in the future. Taking small actions like turning lights off in offices that are not in use or asking employees to bring their own coffee mugs to the office are small steps that reduce your environmental impact, and are part of CER. However, much of CER focuses on larger steps companies can take to reduce carbon emissions and pollution across the supply chain.

Many investors evaluate CER, a company’s adherence to corporate environmental ethics, before they invest any money into the business.  Embracing corporate environmental ethics will not only help you protect the environment but will also show investors that you take responsibility for your actions and comply with regulations.

Why Is Corporate Environmental Responsibility So Important?

The goal of corporate environmental responsibility is to make companies more aware of their environmental impact so they can work to reduce it. Reducing pollution and lowering corporate carbon footprints are some of the main goals that align with corporate environmental ethics.

By ensuring the environmental responsibility of your business, you teach future generations that successful businesses can be built without causing environmental damage. Reducing business’ environmental impacts is also a crucial part of fighting climate change and ensuring a livable environment in the future.

Benefits of Corporate Environmental Responsibility 

Not only does corporate environmental responsibility help reduce damage to the environment, but

Firstly, CER can prove to be more profitable for companies. As consumers become more aware of sustainability and supporting environmentally friendly companies, they are more likely to choose companies that adhere to strong corporate environmental ethics.

You will also save money by changing some old habits that cause your carbon footprint to go up such as leaving lights on for no reason or using large amounts of water. Reducing energy usage not only lessens your impact on the environment, but it also lowers your own costs.

Finally, climate change’s impacts will make it much more difficult for businesses to function. We all have a vested interest in reducing our contribution to climate change so that our businesses (and all other aspects of our lives) can continue to thrive.

Who Should Be Responsible For Protecting The Environment?

While some government agencies are tasked with enforcing environmental responsibility ultimately we all live on the same planet and use natural resources that help our businesses grow, put food on our tables, and allow us to buy everything that we want and need. We will all be impacted by the negative affects of climate change, and it is particularly important for large contributors to global warming take stock of the current environmental situation.

Some environmental ethical philosophies argue that it is our moral responsibility as humans to ensure the continuation of life on earth. At the end of the day, all of us, but perhaps especially business-owners, must do our part to preserve the environment for generations to come.

Principles of Corporate Environmental Responsibility

Sustainable development 

Sustainable development encompasses the idea that a business can grow, while doing so in a way that can continue without destroying the environment. This principle encompasses most environmental actions a business can take, from moving to recyclable materials to lowering energy usage to limit your impacts on the climate.

Sustainable development will help ensure that your products and business will be able to develop in the foreseeable future, rather than depleting necessary finite resources in the present.

Proper waste disposal

This might seem simple, but it is one of the most important (and often overlooked) aspects of a green business. By ensuring that all your waste is stored or thrown away correctly, you avoid pollution and increased carbon emissions.

Even small actions can help. For example, place recycle bins outside your office so that your employees can dispose of their waste correctly. You also need to make sure that medical waste, polluted waste, and all other waste is stored or handled correctly to avoid harm to human health and the environment alike.

Low resource use

An environmentally responsible company uses resources such as water, energy, and raw materials in a conscientious manner. This is a widely applicable principle that applies to nearly every stage in a business’ supply chain. For example, this may mean using recycled materials to create your products, or designing products that can be recycled at the end of their lifecycle. This principle also includes investing in low-energy production processes, relying on renewable energies, or even simply reducing the amount of paper that gets printed around the office. Much of this is directly related to lowering your carbon footprint, or the amount of carbon you emit throughout your value chain.

How Can Your Business Become Environmentally Responsible? 

There are a few very small things that you can do to help your company become environmentally responsible. While companies should carefully review all aspects of their business to reduce emissions, here are a few places to start that are quite easy to implement:

recycled tag - what is corporate environmental ethics
  • Turn off lights that are not needed
  • Collect rainwater so that you can water your plants at the office 
  • Recycle your plastics, glass, and paper
  • Use reusable straws, coffee cups, and shopping bags so that there is less plastic going into the oceans and landfill
  • Avoid printing documents to save paper
  • Create packaging that is recyclable or made from recyclable materials
  • Evaluate how your products are transported — is there a remore efficient solution?
  • Encourage employees to carpool or take public transit to the office (or better yet, allow them to work from home and get rid of commuting emissions altogether!).


Research shows that 54% of American businesses have formal green programs in place.  As founder of Green Buoy Consulting Eliza Erskine said, “Sustainability has become a priority for businesses.” While 54% of businesses is still not enough to truly reduce the environmental impacts of industry, it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

Many businesses have begun to realize that if they don’t go green, they will not survive the new paradigm, as it’s clear that environmental conservation and corporate environmental ethics are of increasing importance to consumers. You will not only help the environment by becoming environmentally responsible, but you will also boost consumer confidence in your company.  

Read more: How to Make Sure Your Supply Chain Is Up to Date with Ethical Standards