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Who Said Sustainability is Easy?

In recent posts, we’ve talked about the challenges of driving sustainability across supply chains. To the uninitiated, it seems as if this is an easy decision, as it’s simply the “right thing to do”. But what I’ve found in talking to people is that even when leadership is behind the idea of sustainability 100%, the challenges always exist. In the words of one manager I interviewed recently from a company that ranks highly in every dimension of sustainable supply chains:

“With our upstream suppliers we are just scratching the surface. There is now information going out on a sustainable code of conduct – from child labor to the social and ethical things. But we are not really getting to the point on footprint and waste where we need to be, and we continue to identify problems and opportunities with suppliers. We have gotten away from a constant flow of packaging goods, and have gone to returnable reusable packaging, and returnable pallets, not wood pallets. But we are not highly integrated in applying them and not driving any real activity – as opposed to what Walmart and Lowest are asking. Walmart is obviously demanding a lot from us. They are taking our packaging, and asking us about the waste profile, and other sustainable attributes through their questionnaires. And they are conditioning all of their suppliers through the Sustainability Consortium. ”

The fact is, finding and implementing the opportunities, and running competitive at the same time, is easier said than done. The companies who will succeed are those who are able to effectively marry economic value and sustainable outcomes. Because the competition never sleeps…