Lots of people are writing about the benefits of implementing sustainability initiatives in this down economy. Recently, though, I ran across two great posts that not only addressed why sustainability is important; they also discussed how you can start putting green initiatives to work.
Over at Environmental Leader, Paul Brody and Mondher Ben-Hamida, supply chain experts from IBM Global Business Services, offer a “12-step” approach to help make your supply chain more efficient, more cost effective, and greener. Check out the article for all the details, but here’s an abridged version of their list of suggested actions:
- Redesign products to reduce both energy use and waste.
- Reconfigure manufacturing to lower energy consumption, limit pollutants, and reduce toxic chemicals.
- Shift to suppliers who offer green benefits, such as helping you meet new regulations or broadening your appeal with consumers.
- Re-think sourcing, assembly, and distribution to shorten travel distance and reduce fuel use.
- Change service-level agreements to reflect carbon consumption, as well as cost, quality, and service.
- Reduce packaging to lower the carbon impact of shipping and reduce the burden of waste at the end of the chain.
- Plan for reverse supply chain activity.
- Consolidate shipments.
- Use true costs and carbon implications when planning distribution routes and modes of transportation.
- Coordinate with supply chain partners both up and downstream.
- Make assessments based on the whole life of products.
- Don’t wait; start now.
Last week, Stephen Linaweaver, a senior associate with the consultancy Green Order, posted another set of seven tips in his article, titled “Sustainability 101: The Human Problem.” He focused on things your company can do right away, with minimal investment.
“One of the most critical elements of understanding sustainability and making it a driver of value is getting out of the starting blocks and up the learning curve,” Linaweaver says. Here’s what he’s urging companies to do, starting today:
- Begin with small steps. Start with measuring and monitoring carbon, e.g.
- Create a working definition of sustainability.
- Determine where your company lies on the “sustainability awareness curve.”
- Don’t assume that your customers or stakeholders are eco-savvy.
- Recognize sustainability as a human problem, rather than an environmental problem. (Then, you’ll see that the true challenge is to change human behaviors.)
- Publicize your efforts, even if they’re initially small.
- Focus on the value of your sustainability dollar spent at the margin.
So, there you have 19 steps to help your company start moving toward sustainability. To make it an even total of 20, I would like to suggest one more: stay informed. The year ahead promises to be one of great change, and there’s no doubt that multiple elements –sustainability metrics and models, demands from customers and stakeholders, regulations at both the state and federal level, to name a few – will be evolving over the next few months. It’s critical that you stayed tuned in.