Staples wants to drive sustainability innovation in product manufacturing, packaging and distribution –and the company has challenged its key suppliers with a competition designed to spur action towards these goals.
Staples’ new “Race to the Top” sustainability challenge calls on suppliers to compete not only in terms of product quality, cost and features, but also in finding eco-friendly solutions for product manufacturing, packaging, and distribution. The company says that ultimately, the strategy aims to increase environmental, economic and social sustainability and remove waste and inefficiency of all types.
Similar to initiatives already in use at P&G and Walmart, Staples’ Race to the Top strategy includes collaboratively developing sustainability scorecards for products and packaging. These scorecards, which will specifically track design innovations and environmental attributes, are designed to drive more accountability throughout the supply chain. According to Staples, the supplier scorecard designations will increasingly be scientifically-based and focused on the sustainability attributes that matter most for particular types of products.
“Staples has been focused on sustainability for some time–from the products we offer to our own internal operations,” Mark Buckley, vice president of environmental affairs at Staples, said. “Now, by working closely with our key suppliers on sustainable packaging and products, we’ll begin to drive continuous improvement more quickly across the lifecycle of products that we offer customers every day. This is particularly important work given that products represent the largest part of the company’s overall environmental footprint. In other words, we’re going after what matters most and changing the way our products get to market.”
Kudos to Staples for launching this challenge and placing corporate emphasis where it belongs: on life-cycle thinking. Most of a company’s carbon footprint is embedded in its supply chain. So, it only makes sense to look to factors like logistics, materials/packaging, and supplier engagement when you’re working to reduce carbon exposure. Supplier scorecards that focus on environmental stewardship provide clarity where it’s needed most –and at the same time, they also help drive innovation, efficiencies, cost savings and risk mitigation.