Increasingly the topic of Sustainability is becoming an essential component of business today. It is slowly being woven into the fabric of our organizations, as we craft our corporate philosophies and vision for the future. Those who have wholeheartedly taken on a journey of this nature are working on educating their people, their suppliers and customers, their community, and their government partners and taking positive steps forward in their desire to achieve little or zero impact on the environment.
There was an interesting article posted recently from a KPMG Study entitled "Expect the Unexpected: Building Business Value in a Changing World" that cited ten sustainability megaforces that they predict will have an impact on businesses:
- Climate Change
- Energy and Fuel
- Material Resource Scarcity
- Water Scarcity
- Population Growth
- Food Security
- Ecosystem Decline
It stands to reason that given the forces above, we should be doing our best to consider ways in which we could work towards making a net zero impact on the environment in any way we can. David Bach says it best in his book "Go Green, Live Rich" (Doubleday Canada, 2008, page 2):
"Going green is the most important issue that will shape our future"
EMC Canada Food Sector Members and Nottawasaga Futures were pleased to welcome Laura Rourke, EMC Canada, Health and Safety Environmental Professional, and Frito Lay Canada representatives, Ryan Ram, Sustainability Point, and Asif Darr, Engineering Lead, to Alliston to discuss and share their best practices with respect to Sustainability initiatives.
Interestingly, Laura began her career at a landfill site, and then worked for both an automotive parts and innovative electronic products manufacturers managing environmental, health and safety compliance. She now provides training and mentoring support on all aspects of Health and Safety and Environmental issues and is very passionate about decreasing our environmental footprint.
Laura provided an excellent overview of sustainability and put a framework around what it is all about and why it should be of importance to manufacturers. A powerpoint of Laura's presentation is attached below and a few thoughts from her presentation follow:
Sustainability essentially means the capacity to endure. There are many different ways in which that can be interwoven into an organization, but one that Laura particularly liked was from the University of Guelph: "Improving life for today while preserving resources for tomorrow".
Corporate sustainability focuses on all aspects of the business - from an economic and social standpoint to the overall environmental performance. Today's customers are very concerned about the impact of products and the life cycle of those goods. Reporting is conducted on a variety of levels and some organizations are building Sustainability pieces directly into their financial reports.
One of the key drivers of Sustainability initiatives and reporting requirements is Walmart. Walmart's supplier criteria regarding expected performance is readily available on the web together with videos for download and Annual Global Responsibility Report (http://walmartstores.com/Sustainability/7672.aspx). They are listening and designing programs keeping customer feedback in mind on issues such as:
* Energy and Climate
* Material Efficiency
* Nature and Resources
* People and the Community
Where to start?
- We need to look within our own four walls first (for example: where do your raw materials come from, carbon footprints, conflict metals, seasonal workers, animal husbandry practices, environmental friendly practices and use of materials)
- How do you communicate requirements to your supply chain and then verify that they are meeting these?
- From an owned operations standpoint - are you implementing an environmental management system - and what are the kinds of things that you are looking at? (Ie. Look at your utility and waste bills; get with engineering and accounting and track what you are doing; design for the environment; look at the product's impact on health and wellness; how is labour affected; etc.)
- Downstream considerations (for example: look at your carbon footprint to reach the market; eco-labelling; waste packaging; product disposal; etc.)
- Consider a "dumpster dive" - watch as the garbage trucks are unloaded, use clear bags to see what types of waste are being collected or separate your waste on site and weigh your findings and look at the percentage over the year in tonnage, etc. - the visual impact can certainly help build understanding of the need to eliminate as much waste as possible
Consider starting by:
- Developing a Task Force…
- Understanding what you are being asked for…
- Tracking your waste, recycling, gas, hydro and water…
- Developing 1, 3 and 5 Year Plans for both operations and product…
A few ideas for Engaging and Motivating the Workforce - "Green Your Work", Kim Carlson, 2008.
- Celebrate the environment at least once per year;
- Ongoing education;
- Have cafeteria's offer sustainably grown, organic and local foods;
- Start a program to enable employees to buy a share in a community supported agriculture program
- Promote greener business meetings in your organization
- Green your IT department;
- Give green; and
- Implement a "go green" contest.
It is important to take to task simple initiatives one at a time - those that align with your business activities and long term plans - and work at them to be successful - gradually "eating the elephant one bite at a time" so-to-speak. Do what makes good business sense and can provide reasonable cost savings, etc.
We also spoke a bit about Carbon Profiles and if you are interested in calculating your carbon footprint on the environment there are a few websites to check out in that regard:
Following Laura's presentation, those in attendance, were very pleased to have Ryan and Asif share information on Frito Lay's Sustainability Journey.
We enjoyed an excellent Q&A session that allowed Members present to share some of their experiences regarding implementing programs of this nature and it was a wonderful opportunity for those in attendance to garner ideas for beginning programs of their own. We also touched on issues relating to lighting and solar opportunities, looking and listening for compressed air leaks, biodiesel usage, biodegradable bags, the importance of developing consistent waste and recycling collection across the Province, and learning from our mistakes!
The bottom line - embarking on a sustainability journey is becoming more and more a condition of doing business today.