334 Pages 47 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    334 Pages 47 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Sustainable Business: Key Issues is the first comprehensive introductory-level textbook to address the interface between environmental challenges and business solutions to provide an overview of the basic concepts of sustainability, sustainable business, and business ethics.

    Fully updated for the third edition to take into account recent developments and trends, such as the climate emergency, COVID-19, and supply chain sustainability, this textbook introduces students to the background and key issues of sustainability and suggests ways in which these concepts can be applied in business practice. Though the book takes a business perspective, it is interdisciplinary in its nature and draws on knowledge from socio-economic, political, and environmental studies, thereby providing a critical understanding of sustainability in the changing paradigm of global business. It goes beyond the conventional theories of sustainability and addresses critical issues concerned with population, consumption, and economic growth. It discusses realistic ways forward, in particular, the circular economy and Cradle to Cradle frameworks. The book is both a theoretical and a practical study guide for undergraduate and postgraduate students of broad areas of sustainability, teaching ways to recognize opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship at the intersection of environmental, economic, ethical, and social systems. It takes a strategic approach in applying the power of business methods and policy to address issues of global importance such as climate change, poverty, ecosystem degradation, and human rights.

    This textbook is essential reading for students of business, management, and sustainability courses. It is written in an engaging and accessible style, with each chapter including case studies, discussion questions, and end of chapter summaries.

    Table of Contents

    List of Figures

    List of Tables

    List of Boxes

    Foreword to new edition


    List of abbreviations


    Chapter 1. Introduction: Key concepts in sustainability and business

    What is this book about?

    Brief definition of sustainability

    Evolution of sustainability thinking

    Business sustainability

    Why do business sustainably?

    Social and economic sustainability: linking business and society

    Environmental sustainability: linking business and environment


    Introducing Cradle to Cradle and circular economy

    What links business, ethics and sustainability?

    How to do business ethically and sustainably?

    Chapter organization

    Case study Patagonia

    Key terms

    Discussion questions

    Class Activity: How to save the planet: Degrowth vs Green Growth?

    End of chapter summary


    Chapter 2. Business ethics

    Linking Sustainability and ethics

    Different types of ethics

    Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

    From CSR to corporate citizenship

    Human Rights

    Labour issues: Poverty, pay and working conditions


    Business & Poverty - ‘bottom of the pyramid’

    Animal welfare

    Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)

    Corporate governance

    Case study: Volkswagen’s response to the ‘emissions scandal’: Was it ethical?

    Key terms

    Discussion questions

    End of chapter summary

    Class Activity: Volkswagen



    Chapter 3. Environmental challenges

    What is meant by environment?

    Environmental impacts

    Environmental problems

    Climate change

    Failing goals of reducing emissions

    Corporate response to climate change

    Loss of biodiversity

    Limits to growth

    Pollution and the industrial disasters


    Causes and Explanations

    Historical causes

    Tragedy of the commons

    Political causes

    Commodification of nature

    Ecological Restoration and Pollution Control

    Ethical considerations

    Environmental values

    Case study: Shell and the Sustainable Development Goals

    Key terms

    Discussion questions

    End of chapter summary

    Class Activity

    Chapter 4. Social and economic challenges


    Origins of poverty

    Poverty and sustainability

    Economic development

    Inequality and development

    Post-colonialism and neo-colonialism

    Population growth

    Causes of population growth

    Demographic transition theory

    What is sustainable development?

    Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

    Sustainable development paradox

    Sustainable development and inequality

    Business and sustainable development

    The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)

    Managing sustainable development in business

    Case study: Who is the Victim of Climate Change?


    Key terms

    Discussion questions

    End of chapter summary

    Class Activity: Debate Economic growth can be decoupled from increase in consumption of natural resources

    Chapter 5. Key challenges for making sustainability a reality

    The changing global business environment

    Paradoxes of sustainability

    Possibility vs. Dream

    Practical challenges

    Globalization of consumption

    Disputing the mainstream sustainable business models

    Short-term and long-term solutions

    Critique of the triple bottom line

    Critique of "sustainable" consumption

    Rebound effect

    Tackling oil dependency and climate skepticism

    Ethical challenges

    Intergenerational Justice

    Biospheric Egalitarianism

    Environmental justice vs. ecological justice

    Charity paradox

    The question of demographics

    The role of decision-makers

    Case study: Smart phones at school


    Key terms

    Discussion questions

    End of chapter summary

    Class Activity No Impact man



    Chapter 6. Globalization and business

    What is meant by globalization?

    Schools of globalization thinkers

    "Risk society"

    The relationship between globalization and sustainability

    Global organizations concerned with sustainability

    Globalization of sustainability concerns

    The greening of global supply chains

    Globalization of technology

    Health: Medical technology

    Agriculture: The Green Revolution

    Manufacturing: Fordism and Post-Fordism

    Technology: Energy

    Digital Technology

    The Internet of Things

    Globalization of neo-liberal democracy

    ‘Groupthink’ or cultural hegemony: global spread

    Theories of development and innovation

    Ecological Kuznets Curve

    Ecological modernization theory

    Post-material value theory

    Case studies: 3-D printing

    Key terms

    Discussion questions

    End of chapter summary

    Class Activity Imagine you are the CEO of a global company


    Chapter 7. Strategic Change for Sustainability

    Sustainability and Competitive advantage

    Knowledge management

    Creativity and innovation

    Corporate Visioning

    Green marketing and customer engagement

    Green shopping and market segmentation

    Responsible advertising

    Brand value and sustainability

    Role of Consultancies in promoting sustainability

    Case Study: ‘B Corp’ Certification

    Key terms

    Discussion questions

    End of chapter summary

    Class Activity: Marketing a green enterprise


    Chapter 8. Human Resource Management, green jobs and a green economy

    Knowledge and Skills: Human Resource Development

    Sustainability and HRM


    HR and the social ecology of the organization

    Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

    Acquiring Ecological Self Knowledge

    UN Principles of Responsible Management Education (PRME)

    Sustainability and Leadership

    Decent and Sustainable Work

    Green Jobs in a Green[ing] Economy


    Case Study: Unilever, Oxfam and Labour Rights in Vietnam

    Key terms

    Discussion questions

    End of chapter summary

    Class Activity Imagine you are head of an HR team


    Chapter 9. Creating Sustainable Business Practice

    Government regulation and policy

    Polluter Pays Principle

    The Precautionary Principle

    Extended Producer Responsibility

    The Participatory Principle

    Environmental management systems

    Eco Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS)

    Sustainable supply chain management

    Change management

    Natural Step


    Sharing networks

    Corporate Reporting

    Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)

    Green Accounting systems and Investment strategies

    Case study: Supply chain innovation within the palm oil industry

    Key terms

    Discussion questions

    End of chapter summary

    Class Activity: Companies meeting SDGs

    Chapter 10. New strategic thinking

    Structural and social solutions

    Collaboration and stakeholder engagement

    Communication: ‘Talking the Walk’ initiatives

    Understanding sustainable consumption

    Consumer choice editing

    Sharing economy

    Realizing impacts: direct and indirect

    Private and public action

    Business and NGO cooperation

    Green and ethical investment

    Business and technological solutions

    Business ecology

    Industrial ecology

    Life cycle assessment

    Sustainable Design


    The Blue Economy

    Case study: the rise of ‘slow fashion’

    Key terms

    Discussion questions

    End of chapter summary

    Class Activity: Sustainable and ethical investment


    Chapter 11. Cradle to Cradle

    Cradle to Cradle (C2C): the cycle of rebirth


    Being ‘all good’: eco-efficiency versus eco-effectiveness

    Nutrient cycles

    Key principles of C2C

    Waste = food

    Use current solar income

    Celebrate diversity

    C2C Certification schemes

    Material Health

    Material Reutilization

    Renewable Energy and Carbon Management

    Water Stewardship

    Social Fairness

    Incorporating Cradle to Cradle design into products

    Challenges to C2C

    Case studies: Olio: Addressing food waste via an innovative circular business model

    Key terms

    Discussion questions

    End of chapter summary

    Class Activity: Student assignments Cradle to Cradle


    Chapter 12. Towards circular economy

    From optimizing existing models to revolutionary change

    Background of circular economy concept

    Drivers of change

    Ellen MacArthur Foundation

    Product-service systems (PSS)

    The question of design

    Organization of processes

    Disruptive innovation

    Assessing progress towards circularity

    Selected similarities between sustainability and the circular economy

    The risk of subversion

    Scaling up circular economy

    Closing the loop

    Summarizing hopeful sustainability frameworks

    Case study: The circular economy – business as usual or a necessary change?

    Key terms

    Discussion questions

    End of chapter summary

    Class Activity: Cradle to Cradle and a circular economy





    Helen Kopnina (PhD Cambridge University, 2002) is currently employed at Northumbria University, Newcastle, UK. Helen teaches sustainable business and conducts research within three main areas: sustainability, environmental education, and biological conservation. Helen has (co)-authored over 200 articles and 17 books

    Rory Padfield is an Associate Professor in the Sustainability Research Institute at the University of Leeds, UK. He is programme leader for the MSc in Sustainability and Business at the University of Leeds, and co-leader for the Business and Organisations for Sustainable Societies (BOSS) research group. A trained development geographer, Rory’s research focuses on the broad themes of supply chain and natural resource governance, communication of sustainability, and sustainability across and between different scales of businesses and organizations.

    Josephine Mylan is a Senior Lecturer in Sustainability and Innovation at Alliance Manchester Business School. She is affiliated to both the Sustainable Consumption Institute (SCI) and Manchester Institute of Innovation Research (MIoIR). Josephine’s research engages with questions of how societies can transition to less resource-intensive ways of meeting our needs, with interests in sustainable consumption and production and low carbon transitions.

    "Sustainable Business: Key Issues is a solid introductory volume that allows students not only to get familiar with the issues of (un)sustainability in corporate contexts, but learn to recognize global obstacles to sustainability, as well as equip students to find viable solutions from the business perspective. The importance of Cradle to Cradle and circular economy framework is outlined as particularly relevant to strategic management of sustainability."

    Frans Meijers, Professor Emeritus, The Hague University of Applied Sciences, The Netherlands

    "This book represents a welcome addition to the burgeoning literature on sustainability and business by offering a refreshingly different perspective from many mainline works in the field. The authors couple an insightful critique of current conventional viewpoints on sustainability with a conceptual menu of reasoned alternatives to move our global economic system closer to true sustainability."

    Peter N. Nemetz, Professor Emeritus, Strategy and Business Economics, Sauder School of Business, University of BC, Canada

    "This book cuts through much of the waffle and jargon about both ‘sustainability’ and ‘business’. Unlike many other books in this area, it does not dodge difficult issues such as overpopulation, overconsumption and ethics. It is not in denial of either humanity’s grave predicament, or of the solutions urgently needed – which exist and need to be acted on at all levels in society. I strongly recommend this book in its approach to discussing what business practices can be truly sustainable."

    Haydn Washington, author of Demystifying Sustainability, and Fellow at the Institute of Environmental Studies at the University of New South Wales, Australia

    "Sustainable Business: Key Issues is a clear, balanced and important introduction to a subject that needs everyone’s close attention. The authors have done an excellent job in showing how businesses and business schools can help create a fairer and more sustainable world."

    Nicholas Theodorakopoulos, Professor of Entrepreneurship Development, Head of Department, Work and Organisational Psychology, Director, Aston Centre for People and Organisations, UK

    "Sustainable Business: Key Issues provides a valuable introductory text into the (un)sustainability issues and challenges facing current business practice. It provides an accessible yet informative insight into both organisational and systemic issues that businesses face and goes so far as to suggest some potential solutions. It should prove of interest to both students and business practitioners."

    Stuart Cooper, Professor of Accounting and Head of the Department of Accounting and Finance, University of Bristol, UK

    "The book is an accessible text that addresses the most critical challenges of our time which are now framed by the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The book tackles a range of subjects and issues using an interdisciplinary approach to provide an understanding of what sustainable business really means for both students (of all disciplines) and business professionals, as well as outlining practical strategies to inspire action."

    Carole Parkes, Professor of Responsible Management, University of Winchester Business School, UK

    "This book is a must-read for everyone who is driven to contribute to a better sustainable future. The authors shed light on some profound challenges taking place around the world and breakthrough innovations in sustainable business models. It is definitely an eye-opener."

    Dianne Potters, Founder of 21Sustainable, The Netherlands

    "This book is bound to stimulate the reader’s interest in the complex relationship between business and sustainability. With its comprehensive approach, covering a broad range and variety of issues, a critical discussion of traditional approaches and an offer of alternative views, it is certain not only to increase the reader’s awareness of the business role in sustainability but also to engage them in thinking about effective solutions for sustainable business practices."

    Damir Urem, The Hague University of Applied Sciences, The Netherlands