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ESG and Sustainability: Guide for Understanding Corporate Sustainability

September 2, 2022

ESG and Sustainability: Guide for Understanding Corporate Sustainability

There is a lot of talk about ESG sustainability in the business world today. But what does it all mean? How can you make sure your company is practicing corporate sustainability effectively?

This guide will help get you started. We will cover the basics of ESG and sustainability, explain why they are important, and delve deep into the associated risks and benefits. Read on to learn more!

Table of contents

  • What Is ESG?
  • ESG vs Sustainability
  • Why Is ESG Good for Business?

What is ESG?

ESG stands for environmental, social, and governance factors that affect a company’s ability to operate sustainably. Sustainability is the practice of environmental and social responsibility to preserve natural resources and protect human health.

But what is ESG sustainability? The term encompasses an organization’s efforts to reduce its environmental impact while improving its social and governance practices. Many companies are incorporating sustainability into their business models to reduce risk, save costs, and gain a competitive advantage.

There are many different ways to approach sustainability. Some companies focus on decreasing their environmental impact by using renewable energy, improving energy efficiency, or reducing their plastic footprint.

Others focus on investing in positive social practices such as providing fair wages and working conditions, supporting local communities, or combating corruption.

And still, others strengthen their governance practices, like increasing transparency or ensuring board diversity. The best approach for a company depends on its specific circumstances and goals.

ESG and sustainability are important considerations for any company that wants to operate sustainably. While this can be a challenge, there are many benefits to adopting inclusive and forward-thinking philosophies.

Not only can it help to reduce environmental impact, but it can also build trust with customers and shareholders while creating long-term value for the business.

ESG vs sustainability

When it comes to environmental impact, many acronyms are floating around. Two of the most common are sustainability vs ESG, but what do they mean? More importantly, what’s the difference between them?

ESG sustainability

The three pillars of sustainable investing are environmental, social, and governance:

  • Environmental: Impact on climate change and the environment.
  • Social: Treatment of employees and other stakeholders.
  • Governance: A company’s transparent and responsible leadership.

The evolution of ESG sustainability

ESG sustainability has come a long way since first introduced in the early 21st Century. The focus was primarily on environmental concerns, such as climate change and resource conservation.

However, social and governance issues soon came to the fore, with stakeholders increasingly interested in companies’ policies on labor practices, human rights, and corruption.

Today, ESG is a mainstream consideration for businesses of all sizes, with an increasing number of investors using it as a key factor in their decision-making process. Indeed, there is every indication that its importance will continue to grow.


Sustainability is a broader term encompassing both environmental and social issues. It also includes economic factors, such as a company’s business model and its treatment of workers. In other words, sustainability is about creating value for all stakeholders—not just shareholders.

Despite their similarities, the main difference between sustainability vs ESG is the criteria required for each. ESG sustainability is more specific for business models to follow, making it the term of preference for many companies.

Why is ESG good for business?

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors are increasingly relevant to businesses. ESG investing refers to the practice of integrating these factors into investment decision-making. This growing approach to investing takes into account financial performance and a company’s impact on society and the environment.

The risks of ESG

ESG sustainability is a hot topic in the business world. More and more consumers are interested in knowing that the brands they engage with commercially are also socially and environmentally responsible.

However, some experts have raised concerns about the potential risks associated with ESG investing. They worry that companies may be over-promising their sustainability efforts or that ESG reporting standards are not comprehensive enough.

As a result, investors may not be getting an accurate picture of a company’s sustainability performance. Nonetheless, the popularity of ESG investing continues to grow as more and more people believe there is capital gain to be made while also positively impacting the environment.

The benefits of ESG

There are several reasons why ESG is good for business:

  • Helps businesses identify and manage risks related to climate change, such as reputational damage, lost customers, and regulatory penalties.
  • Enables businesses to tap into new markets and opportunities by developing products and services that address social and environmental challenges.
  • Could improve financial performance. A growing body of research has shown that companies with strong ESG practices tend to outperform their peers over the long term.

In short, there are many good reasons for businesses to embrace ESG. By considering these factors in their decision-making, companies can improve risk management, tap into new markets and enhance financial performance.


Many companies are beginning to focus on ESG sustainability. By taking into account the environmental and social impacts of their business activities, companies can not only minimize risk but tap into new markets and generate long-term shareholder value.
At Second Life, our plastic recovery projects help sustain communities in Thailand where biodiversity hotspots are actively at risk. As more companies adopt our sustainable model, we could see a significant reduction in plastic waste around the world.