Eco-conscious business operations are no longer simply a conversation piece or a bullet point for a brochure; they're a vital component to connecting to your customers and, often, represent a decrease in operating costs when properly leveraged. Naturally, any sort of new supply chain strategy or logistics solutions can be time and resource intensive—at least at the outset— but going green is one step where the benefits far outweigh the risks in the long term.
Realize the Potential of Ethical Industry Leadership
When a company makes the choice to use earth-conscious solutions in their operations, they set a precedent that encourages their competition to follow suit. Though efforts such as switching to recycled filler or packaging may only be a small "blip on the radar" in terms of a single business, the ripple effect of competition amplifies this effort— inspiring other departments in the company, vendor partners or suppliers, and even the industry as a whole.
As McKinsey’s Tobias A. Meyer pointed out, however, taking a holistic approach to these measures requires conscious coordination and accountability from both a business and its supply partners.
See How Small Steps Can Make Big Change
Though holistic measures are critical, the journey from conventional to "green" isn't necessarily an all-or-nothing leap.
As the idea of sustainability and green marketing has permeated operational business culture, it has become considerably easier to source and purchase green services, products, packaging, even industrial cleaning supplies. Green is a very scalable concept— even small businesses can opt for an eco-friendly cleaning service for the office, streamline POP material to reduce waste or incorporate recycled packaging into their fulfillment programs. Larger businesses may find additional, high profile moves—like UPS’ recent commitment to an aggressive emissions reduction strategy to achieve a 20-percent reduction in carbon intensity from transportation by 2020.
Get a Head Start on Regulation
With the Obama administration’s announcing an ambitious plan to reduce U.S. emissions 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 in the wake of the landmark agreement with China, both manufacturing and fulfillment operations can expect to see the introduction of new legislation on sustainability and emissions
It’s more critical than ever that businesses have a plan to reduce their own carbon footprint.
While accurately predicting exactly which industries will be targeted by future regulatory concerns would be is an impossible task, there are a few safe bets— namely that all business across all industry should expect to see a crackdown on energy consumption and emissions.
With oversight organizations from the county to the federal level offering discounts, tax incentives and certifications for certain eco-friendly measures already, getting with the proverbial program before its mandatory is just good sense. The best bets for falling in line with compliance in terms of potential benefits will likely be larger efforts, so consider things like switching the company fleet to hybrids when it's time to rebuy. But there are also smaller, less obvious ways— like downsizing office space or providing consumers with instructions for product care and disposal— that companies can reduce their carbon footprint.
Additionally, department managers will want to have a candid discussion with their business' financial professional to determine if they can or should be getting tax breaks or credits for current or planned measures to maximize positive impact at the profit level.
Develop a Strategy and Take Steps Now
Going green doesn't have to be a concept that inspires skittishness. It's a self-paced process where even modest efforts count. Properly planned, implemented and documented eco-friendly efforts will put your company on the map in a very positive light— financially, ethically and potentially even in terms of compliance.
No matter where you start, you'll make great strides in consumer and industry consciousness.