Implementing the Triple Bottom Line at Your Business

When you run a business, you naturally want it to be profitable. Without profitability,there’s no way for you to continue serving your customers, employing your staff, or chasing your entrepreneurial dreams.

But profits aren’t everything. Increasingly, business leaders seek to balance profitability with a broader sense of social responsibility.

One way to tackle this goal is by embracing the Triple Bottom Line (TBL) model. TBL upholds the core principle that profitability and social responsibility don’t have to be mutually exclusive; that companies can promote their business interests while also caring about the environment, and about other social causes.

The TBL model has been around at least since 1994, when the term was coined by John Elkington. We’ve written about it here at WasteXperts several times. As you seek to implement TBL principles in your business, we have a few guidelines to get you started.

Understanding the Concept

First things first: To implement TBL thinking, you need to have a basic understanding of what it means. Often, TBL is broken down into the three p’s… people, planet, and profits.

●      People: How does your business affect the local community? And how do your benefits, compensation, and culture affect your own employees?

●      Planet: What’s the environmental impact of your company? What are your sustainability goals? How do you minimize waste in your distribution and packaging?

●      Profits: What external investments or additional revenue streams could help make your business more profitable?

Again, the key to TBL is the notion that these three principles can all be pursued, and that you don’t have to prioritize one at the expense of the others.

Getting Started with TBL

Now let’s go deeper into some practical steps for pursuing TBL concepts at your business.

Take Stock

A good place to begin is with a basic inventory. Write down the three p’s, and under each one note any business activities related to that concept. Don’t worry about whether the activities are good or bad; simply take stock of where your business is right now. For example, under People, you might note your maternity leave policies, or your diversity initiatives. Under Planet, you might mention office catering (a big contributor to food waste), or your zero waste initiatives.

Seek TBL Examples

Next, go through each list and circle anything that meets the basic TBL criteria. Specifically, identify any programs, initiatives, or activities that you would consider to be positive in at least one category, and positive or neutral in the other two.

Build Engagement

These are the activities or initiatives to rally your team behind, and to place at the center of your TBL efforts. Build out some creative assets to explain or contextualize these activities. Share with your team, letting them know that you’re trying to orient your team around these TBL principles. You might even share with your customers, highlighting the steps your business is taking toward a more balanced sense of corporate responsibility.

Go Deep with TBL


As you consider ways to ramp up your TBL activities, consider bringing in a waste management team that can help you achieve your sustainability goals. Reach out to WasteXperts; we’re always happy to talk TBL objectives!

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