Move from sustainability recognition into action with this 3-step framework


Mariano De La Canal

Global Client Lead

Is your company confidently navigating towards its 2025 or 2030 sustainability goals set in years past? Is the balance between accelerating sustainable practices and managing your profit and loss statement proving to be a challenge? Do you have the right metrics in place to accurately measure your progress—and, even if you’re on track, might there be room to push your ambitions further?

Sustainability has become a key focus in the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) industry. Like in many industries, sustainability has evolved from a marketing buzzword to a serious strategic avenue, increasingly interrelated with the financial and strategy departments. This shift is driven by a complex network of pressures from legislative bodies, stakeholders, consumers, investors, and competitors, who are increasingly demanding that companies demonstrate the effectiveness of their sustainable practices now, rather than offering promises for the future. Europe is leading the way in reducing plastic waste and minimizing CO2 emissions, and these efforts are gaining momentum globally. Some developing nations are also adopting bold policies, especially around single-use plastic. Looking ahead, the CPG industry is reimagining its short-term future to include not only reusable and returnable packaging but also a deeper commitment to social responsibility. This also involves the end-to-end supply and distribution chain, more renewable energy, and sourcing materials locally whenever possible, benefiting both the environment and local communities.
Despite all the momentum, some factors are slowing down or even holding back companies’ transition to a more sustainable way of doing business. Firstly, there is a need for developing a comprehensive, and shared understanding of the relevance of the sustainability challenge, requiring alignment from both the ground level and top management. Secondly, balancing volume and profit growth goals (short term) with ESG targets (mid long-term). Lastly, aligning these objectives with the ones from suppliers and customers while addressing the varying realities of each market that elevates the complexity in an exponential way.

This article presents a three-step ESG framework that our global team has successfully used to help companies develop sustainable strategies. Starting from three basic pillars, this framework can be tailored to help CPG companies in achieving their sustainability ambitions.

1. Build upon the Purpose

Any ESG strategy needs to be aligned with the company’s vision, mission, and purpose. If any of these three elements is not sustainable, the first step should be to revisit them. Otherwise, your sustainability strategy will constantly conflict with your company’s macro strategy and purpose. If it is already aligned, the immediate next step is to deeply understand how it materializes in the different markets your company operates. Acknowledging each market’s unique characteristics and defining a baseline and targets accordingly. ESG is by definition local, and while you can have global goals, regional and local strategies need to be crafted accordingly.

2. Make it Happen

With a clear purpose established, the focus shifts to implementation. The initial phase involves aligning stakeholders to prioritize opportunities across short, medium, and long-term horizons. This alignment on the priority of the opportunities will be the fertile ground for concrete initiatives and programs to thrive, always keeping in consideration the business and operational implications. This stage is about the design, launch, and continuous iteration of services, products, and processes that align with both sustainable and business objectives.

“The future of beverages will be primarily reusable & returnable, but also socially responsible, powered by renewable energy and as locally sourced & distributed as possible”

Mariano De La Canal

Strategy Lead EMEA

3. Do it Data-Driven

Data should be at the heart of the entire process. Successful ESG strategies depend on clearly defined goals but also on actionable plans, measurable progress, and indicators related to reputation and business performance. Companies need to implement robust data management policies, including normalization, integration, consolidation, modeling, and automation. This data-driven framework is crucial for accurately scoring, monitoring, and predicting ESG performance. It also supports effective reporting, enabling transparent communication of progress and impact to stakeholders and shareholders alike.

The three-step ESG framework offers a practical guide for companies to convert their sustainability aspirations into concrete actions and therefore results. This approach, encompassing a deep understanding of purpose, stakeholder alignment, and data-driven strategies, is vital for meeting today’s environmental and social demands. We encourage companies to not only consider this framework but to actively engage with it. For those looking to navigate this transformative journey effectively, our team of experts is ready to assist. By partnering with propelland, companies can leverage our expertise to implement these practices, paving the way towards a more sustainable, responsible, and profitable future in the CPG industry.

Get in touch with us to explore more about your sustainability challenges.