Canadian Franchise

Sustainability in Franchising

Lori Karpman

Sustainability is a term that has become part of today’s business vernacular. The Environmental Protection Agency defines sustainability this way:


“Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment.  Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations. Sustainability is important to make sure that we have and will continue to have, the water, materials, and resources to protect human health and our environment.”


There is more and more evidence that consumers care about sustainability and want to partner with businesses that incorporate social responsibility and respect for nature into their business strategy, mission and values. As consumers become more educated, they look for businesses that share their views on preserving the environment.


While many of the current generation of consumers do not necessarily place sustainability as a reason for purchase, the younger and up and coming generations consider it to be the single most important issue of their lifetime, and hence, in the purchase decision. Both millennials and Gen Z consider climate change as one of their top priorities.  These are the generations that will fill the boardrooms and executive seats of the future. They will guide their businesses towards sustainability because it’s what they, and their customers want.


Brands that do not adopt a sustainability perspective to their business are seen as insensitive to the needs of the planet and the long-term effects of climate change. This is borne out in their financials as they see their share of the market decline in favor of “greener” businesses.


Here are some sustainable business practices you can employ no matter what your industry:


1. Make sustainability a part of your business strategy. This means looking at every aspect of how you run your business and making the sustainable changes you can. This applies to all categories of business operations including purchasing, distribution, administration and sales. Sustainability should be part of a company’s mission and value statement. This will also help to attract and retain this younger generation of employees who see this element of the business as a requirement.


2. Partner with employees and franchisees. Solicit additional ideas on resource conservation from employees and franchisees. Employees and franchisees, many of whom may be the younger generation, are a great source of ideas on how to reduce waste and preserve the environment. The fact that they are so committed and “buy in” to this concept makes implementation of these strategies easier.


3. Conserve water and electricity. This applies to any and every business. Converting to energy-efficient faucets, toilets, and lighting can be a great way to save water, energy, and money! The foodservice industry is the most impacted as a result of the amount of water and electrical equipment they use. The use of eco friendly cleaning products has gone a long way to creating a more efficient and planet friendly industry. Even in an office environment, reducing waste by replacing water cooler cups with refillable bottle spouts, and buying energy-efficient electronic products. Equipment can also be set up with environmentally friendly settings.


4. Create an environmentally friendly supply chain. Statistics show that businesses prefer working with sustainable companies that are environmentally friendly. When sourcing supplies make a list of your potential vendors that make the environment a priority and make a commitment to only using them for your business needs.


5. Develop a Recycling Program. It is easy to develop an in-house program for recyclable products like: paper, computers, other electronics, plastic, aluminum cans, ink cartridges and more. Contract with a waste management company to come and dispose of your waste. This applies to franchisees and not just the corporate head office.


In order to purchase consumers must identify with a brand’s personality, mission and vision. This has always been true to some extent but is even more so today. The only difference is that consumers today, especially the younger generation, places significantly more value on sustainability than previous generations, and companies are responding accordingly.


Green Franchise Opportunities

There are many green franchises for environmentally conscious entrepreneurs to buy in a diverse variety of industries. The trend setters are highlighted below. With an ever-increasing awareness about the importance of saving the planet, the fact that businesses are becoming “greener” should come as no surprise.

The franchise sector is no different, with the number of green franchises on the rise. In particular the following industries are and will continue to flourish.


Eco-friendly cleaning. Eco-friendly dry-cleaning services use specially formulated cleansers and solvents. Some brands provide clients with re-usable eco friendly cotton laundry bags, they use biodegradable plastic covers and energy efficient laundry machines. There are also home cleaning, carpet and window cleaning, and restoration businesses that use pet and family friendly products that are safe to the environment. Eco friendly is a huge selling feature.


Energy-saving franchises. Solar franchise opportunities are hot right now as solar grids become  a staple in new construction and renovation, both commercial and residential. Many homeowners want to cut their energy usage to help save the planet and are looking into businesses that provide sustainable home services such as better insulation, improving air quality, increasing comfort in the home, efficient lighting, appliances, windows and doors and an overall reduction in energy bills. Franchises that cater to any one of these needs will likely be successful.


Healthy fast-food franchises with sustainable packaging. This article would be incomplete without mentioning the foodservice industry. This industry has been heavily affected by consumer needs and wants when it comes to the environment. This includes for example, the switch to paper straws, re-usable or recyclable food packaging, as well as low energy appliances and equipment.  A few brands now deliver orders in electric driverless cars. This industry is and always has been at the forefront of sustainability only now it extends to environmentally friendly sources of supply, products and services.


Home Services Franchises. There is a large range and variety of franchises to choose from in the home services category. From lawn care to carpet cleaning to window washing to interior and exterior renovations, and junk removal, home service brands are flourishing. These brands use eco and pet friendly cleaning products and packaging. Junk removal has become a huge success in the age of sustainability as people are cleaning out and recycling their items. Brands that are committed to  eliminating waste from landfills, donating profits to environmental causes and using eco friendly products and service providers will also do well now and in the future.



In conclusion, taking a proactive approach to saving the planet is more important than ever as  consumers demand environmentally friendly products and services. This is not only a B2C phenomenon, but a B2B one as well. It effects every player in the supply chain, each of whom must have sustainability as one of their business values.  Sustainability is non-negotiable to the up-and-coming generations. Brands must constantly innovate and experiment to find ways to become “greener”. They will be judged by their carbon footprint and the impact they leave on the planet.


Lori Karpman, CEO Lori Karpman is president of Lori Karpman & Company, A full
service firm providing a full range of consulting and legal services.