What’s the State of Green Business in 2022?

Liz Bothwell, Head of Content & Marketing

January 26, 2022

3 Min Read
sustainable business
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Earlier this week, I attended a webinar on “The State of Green Business” for 2022. The webinar coincided with the release of the 15th annual edition of the report with the same name.

The webinar was hosted by GreenBiz Chairman Joel Makower in discussion with the following speakers: Deonna Anderson, senior editor; Sarah Golden, senior energy analyst; Grant Harrison, green finance & ESG analyst, Jesse Klein, associate editor; and Theresa Lieb, food systems analyst, all of GreenBiz Group; as well as Richard Mattison, CEO, S&P Global Trucost.

The wide-ranging conversation covered how companies are driving decarbonization through their supply chains, the growth of circular “mining” for critical materials, regulators’ newfound focus on ESG reporting, the growth of resale in consumer markets, and much more.

Mattison started off by talking about net zero (a zero target for emissions by 2050) and noted that, in terms of target setting, “we’re doing pretty well” with around 5,000 companies signed up for the United Nations’ Race to Zero and many investors signed up for the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero. A challenge is really “where we are today relative to the near future” because “we don’t have a long-term perspective in financial markets; we have a much more near-term perspective.” So, there is an “information gap,” which companies will need to address.  

Lieb then discussed the role of food companies in catalyzing meaningful but difficult changes in diets. “One thing I found exciting,” she noted, “is when companies start thinking holistically about lower carbon footprints from the get-go and new opportunities for sustainability by recreating their portfolios.” This year, she sees companies doing this through ingredient-based product formulations, picking up on upcycled foods, and the “really stunning growth” of plant-based proteins. She notes that ingredient-based products are happening more at smaller companies, and the latter two trends are happening at companies of all sizes.  

Klein then spoke about companies setting biodiversity goals and that these be harder to quantify than net zero, but that some companies are tying the two concepts together. For instance, she noted how that Apple is protecting a mangrove forest that will protect 31 species while also gaining an efficient carbon sink.

Harrison went on to discuss the issue of ESG regulations within the context of the recent “explosion” of ESG; he noted that in mid-2021, $35 trillion was invested in ESG strategies. He mentioned that the EU introduced its Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SDFR) in March 2021, which aims to help investors by providing transparency, but that regulations in the U.S. are “a work in progress.” 

Golden then spoke about “24/7 clean energy,” which is all about “the matching of time and location to the creation of carbon-free energy.” She notes that “It’s truly essential to reach clean 100% energy goals from utilities and companies and corporations—and we’re starting to see a lot more attention around this.” She also talked about how companies are currently using a variety of names for this concept, but she expects the term “Carbon-Free Energy (CFE)” to become more common, as it was recently used in President Biden’s December 2021 Executive Order on Catalyzing Clean Energy Industries and Jobs Through Federal Sustainability. She further touched on the need for a variety of technologies, including traceability software, to help fuel CFE goals.

Anderson went on to talk about the projected growth in the clothing resale market—$77 billion for 2024. In 2021, the figure was $36 billion. She noted that, “One of the things it will take to get there is technology that helps track apparel through its entire life. There are companies currently able to do this, but it’s not as widespread as will be needed.” When asked whether she saw resale catching on in other sectors beyond fashion, Anderson said that was definitely the case. For instance, “Last year, IKEA really committed to making resale a staple in the U.S.; it’s already a staple in other parts of the world.”

The speakers then addressed a number of audience questions on topics from cellular agriculture and ESG reporting standards, to clean-energy technologies and more.

View GreenBiz’ The State of Green Business 2022 report here.

About the Author(s)

Liz Bothwell

Head of Content & Marketing, Waste360

Liz Bothwell is head of content and marketing for Waste360, proud host of the NothingWasted! Podcast, and ghostwrites for others to keep her skills sharp and creative juices flowing. She loves family, football, her French bulldogs, and telling stories that can help to make the world a more sustainable place.

Follow her on Linkedin or Twitter

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