BE Green South Sound's Blog

Jan. 18, 2011 at 1:27pm

Why small businesses should care about sustainability

These days leaders of small businesses have their hands full just trying to survive. So why would they add a sustainability strategy to their already overloaded priorities?

Because sustainability strategies are all about business survival. Like it or not, sustainability offers both threats and opportunities for small businesses. And the potential impact on companies' long-term success is too great to ignore.

There are many reasons why small businesses should care about sustainability, but based on and here are the top five:

1. Because sooner or later every business will have to pay attention to sustainability in order to stay in business.

The pressure on companies to disclose how they are addressing environmental issues continues to escalate. The demands are coming from governments, consumers, employees and customers. Large businesses have felt the heat already.

Kevin Myette, Director of Product Integrity at Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI), a retailer selling outside sporting gear and apparel, claims that 'sustainability is the next quality' movement. In a recent panel discussion sponsored by SAP, he claimed that "Transparency is no longer optional."

All companies must be accountable publicly for their policies and practices. John Gagel, Manager of Sustainability for Lexmark, a provider of printing and imaging products, software, solutions and services" headquartered in Lexington Kentucky, says that their business case for sustainability is clear. Almost every customer requires Lexmark to report on their sustainable practices as part of the procurement process. Even though Lexmark is a medium-sized business, John predicts that small businesses will feel the pressure soon if they haven't already.

Recently the trend has included not only corporate reporting of environmental and social practices but also tracking and reporting by product. This trend means that every organization in a supply chain that contributes inputs to an end product will be pressed to disclose sustainability-related information. John stated that they are already pushing down to the third tier in their supply chain and that soon they will push through all tiers.

2. Because your company can obtain more business through commitments to sustainability.

Walmart's Sustainability Index has received widespread publicity and many others have followed. To become eligible to get on or stay on a suppliers list, the vendor companies must submit data concerning their sustainability policies and practices.

Kaiser Permanente, an integrated managed care consortium headquartered in Oakland California, is the first in the health care industry to issue a Sustainability Scorecard. Robert Gotto, the Executive Director of Environmentally Preferable Purchasing for Kaiser Permanente, stated that sustainability-related practices definitely make a difference in their choice of suppliers.

In addition, they require prospective vendors to provide product-specific information such as data about the chemicals included in the product and the percentage of recycled content that goes into the packaging. Kaiser is pushing for industry-wide standards.

And if you remain unconvinced of the impact that these supply chain initiatives will have on small businesses, consider IBM's procurement rules: They are requiring their suppliers to deploy a corporate responsibility and environmental management system. They expect their suppliers to establish voluntary goals, measure performance and publicly disclose their results.

The significance of these requirements to small businesses is that IBM expects suppliers to cascade this set of requirements to the supplier's suppliers. According to Lou Ferretti, Project Executive for the Center of Excellence for Product Environmental Compliance & Supply Chain Social Responsibility (COE), any company that performs work that is material to the products, parts and/or services being supplied to IBM will be affected.

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January 31 at the Greater Tacoma Trade and Convention Center


comments [0]  |  posted under business, green, local, sustainability



Sustainability isn't a trend anymore. It's basic business. It's the next great phase of economic evolution. And while many companies are cashing in on sustainable business trends, it's not enough to just talk green and look green. Businesses have to BE Green.

Like many business people, you may be intrigued by sustainability. You may be enticed by the savings offered by lean operations. You may want to know why your clients or customers are spending their money on green products and services. Maybe you want to save the planet. Maybe you plan to start small, and see where it goes from there.

Whatever compels you, the BE Green South Sound Blog will provide you with all the tools, information, free and low-costs resources, connections, and inspiration needed to propel your own sustainable business initiatives.

You'll learn what the heck a carbon footprint is, and how to manage it. You'll learn about transportation and energy-use alternatives that any business can use. You'll learn simple strategies that will save you money, sell products, be more productive, drive profits and, most importantly, contribute to a sustainable business future.

Whatever you're interested in learning or achieving, we're going to help you make sense of it all. Be Green. It's easier than you think.

January 31 at the Greater Tacoma Trade and Convention Center


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