Clearing up the Complexities of Commercial Sustainability Challenges

With the release of the Why Product Longevity is a Powerful First Step to Improving Commercial Sustainability report, we examine the challenges businesses face when it comes to commercial sustainability. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common blockers to progress and how companies can tackle them.

Sustainability is as important for business as it is for all of us as human beings.  Stakeholders from all sides are calling for progress and want to feel confident they’re doing business with a company that really cares about the world we live in.  Customers are demanding more and expecting businesses to do more in relation to sustainability; 52% of consumers1 feel as though businesses still aren’t doing enough and 57% of consumers say ‘’reducing waste and increasing recycling is very important’’2.

Commercial decision makers are asking for more transparency from businesses they work with and are hyper aware of ‘green washing’ practices. It’s simply not enough to be implementing woolly sustainable practices. In fact, 88% of research participants we spoke to told us it’s important for businesses to have third-party accreditation.

While it’s true that consumers, governments and businesses need to be working in harmony to reverse the devastating effects of climate change, businesses have the most sustainability influence. When a consumer chooses to reduce their plastic usage, they only reduce their own, whereas if a business reduces its plastic packaging, this reduces plastic usage for every consumer that purchases that specific product.

However, in trying to act more sustainably, commercial decisions can be complex and must take the demands of the various stakeholders into account. Businesses face multiple challenges when trying to do the right thing for their customers, their budgets and, of course, the environment.




The number one issue3 cited as a barrier to implementing sustainable practices was a lack of sustainable products. However, opting for recycled products might not always be the answer here. Focusing on durability and a reduction in consumption drives both sustainability and commercial gains.



Durable products are a critical element of building a better future sustainably, responsibly and commercially. Recycled materials suffer degradation over time, creating less durable products that require remanufacture more often and become more costly. By eliminating the need to frequently replace unreliable products that are made from more expensive materials, it eliminates replacement and operational costs as well as resource use.

89% of our survey respondents recognised that longer life products are better for the environment4, and product longevity was cited as the most important initiative when seeking to make initial sustainability gains, when set against other areas such as end-of life, material use and system efficiency.

Businesses must buy better and waste less. The impact of this can be monumental. In fact, extending the life cycle of passive products reduces the environmental impact by up to 72% and reduces commercial cost by up to a third.6



It may come as no surprise that 80% of the businesses we spoke to told us that the current economic situation, rising costs and inflation7 were the most significant challenges they will face in the coming years. Now more than ever, it’s vital businesses take steps to maintain profitability. We asked our participants if they agreed that more sustainable products cost more.  In a positive shift in perceptions nearly ¾ disagreed8.  Despite this, 60% of businesses cited the perceived investment and ongoing costs associated with the implementation of more sustainable practices as a barrier. So, which is it?

The next step is to consolidate the link between buying better to ensure improved product durability, which will in turn reduce consumption – the most powerful way of improving system efficiency, allowing time and resources to be committed to further innovation that drives even better sustainability.

Find out more about The RCP Sustainability Journey and download the Why Product Longevity is a Powerful First Step to Improving Commercial Sustainability report to read more.



  1. Kantar Global Download on Sustainability – August 2022
  2. Kantar Public Study on climate change – September 2021
  3. RCP Research – Question 15
  4. RCP Research – Question 25
  5. RCP Research – Question 17
  6. The Benefits of Extending Passive Product Lifespans
  7. RCP Research – Question 6
  8. RCP Research – Question 25


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