World Quality Week 2021 – Improving our Products, People and Planet

Focus on quality

World Quality Week is celebrated this year from the 8th to the 12th November 2021 and the focus this year is on quality’s role in sustainability and it’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) impact. 

In previous years we have seen the second Thursday in November celebrated as World Quality Day, however this year The Chartered Quality Institute (CQI) is celebrating World Quality Week, and this year’s theme is “Sustainability: improving our products, people and planet”.

Quality, sustainability and customers

ESG issues are rapidly taking priority on the business agenda and now, more than ever, there are so many reasons for organisations to embrace sustainability.  These range from attracting investors to achieve growth and meeting customer expectations.  When it comes to the quality of products and processes, sustainability is becoming more and more critical.

Socially conscious companies create value for their customers through innovation and improving their products and services.  This in turn helps them meet environmental and social values and quality management professionals can assist their organisations in achieving this.

By utilising an organisation’s management system, we can embed the sustainability needs and expectations in processes and plans, as well as innovate by designing products and services that are both sustainable and commercially viable.  Once in place and following the Plan – Do – Check – Act cycle, we can monitor and measure how sustainability is improving the business and it’s reputation.  This allows for a full review so that we are able to meet important sustainability requirements and to continually improve.

Why sustainability is important in quality management

The term sustainability can have many interpretations, however for me, it’s meaning is simple: companies with a sustainable approach meet their needs without compromising the needs of their customers, stakeholders or our planet.

Achieving a balance between the environment, society and the economy is considered essential to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Sustainable development as a goal is achieved by balancing the three pillars of sustainability.

The customer

Customer attitudes and behaviours to sustainability are complex.  Most businesses want to partner with other businesses that behave ethically and sustainably.

If we take the example of supermarkets, since 2018, M&S Food has removed over 2,000 tonnes of plastic and stopped using black plastic as part of its target to make 100% of its packaging recyclable by 2022.  And in 2019, Waitrose & Partners launched the “greenest egg box” ahead of Easter with the egg boxes packaging made from ryegrass and recycled paper.  The ryegrass packaging is produced using 60% less water and releases 10% less CO2 compared to the standard pulp egg box.  This demonstrated how innovation and quality can not only protect the planet but enhance customer expectations.


Today’s investment decisions are increasingly being based on sustainability considerations.  The Harvard Business Review reported that an analysis with 70 executives in 43 global institutional investing companies suggests that ESG is now a priority for leaders and that corporations will soon be held accountable by shareholders for their ESG performance.

Quality and Sustainability

The trend appears to be that a quality product or service must be sustainable as well as economically viable.  A quality organisation is one where sustainability is truly critical to it’s processes, from ethical supply to environmental impact.  Environmental and social sustainability is moving from being a PR exercise to being at the core of business values and business sustainability.

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