This group is fixing sustainable sourcing

by Nov 8, 2018

Shelton Insight

83% of Americans agree, “We have a moral duty to leave the earth in as good or better shape than we found it” (Shelton EcoPulse 2018).

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Sustainability Win of the Week

Nowadays more and more businesses are establishing sustainability goals only to find that implementation fizzles out at some point down the supply chain. Having a concrete vision for a sustainable future is crucial to a brand’s success, but having only a limited range of certified suppliers can wreak havoc on sustainability goals, not to mention metrics. Environmental nonprofit GreenBlue, in collaboration with public and private sector partners, seeks to resolve this problem through the implementation of new materials management systems – particularly in the forestry sector.

As the article states, “Many companies have set goals to source 100% of the fiber for their packaging, paper, and other materials from recycled, certified, and verified sources.” And, indeed, this is a worthwhile goal – for companies to seek “greater visibility into their sourcing and a means to drive sustainability at scale” through new, rigorous policies.

A problem arises, however, when brands and their suppliers discover that “certified content is often scarce.” A company, therefore, must choose: rely on an extremely limited number of certified suppliers and miss out on supporting the many family and small-business suppliers that lack certification, OR, come up with new and better ways of ensuring that sustainability goals are met. Clearly, the latter option is preferred – not just for the environment but small business as well.

The Forests in Focus initiative, developed in partnership with major companies like Mars and Staples and nonprofits like GreenBlue and American Forest Foundation, does exactly that. In the absence of sufficient individually certified suppliers, Forests in Focus provides a “dynamic, landscape-level assessment of risks and opportunities for sourcing forest products” based on U.S. Forest Service and other provider data. Above all, the project shows that sustainability does not stop at the weakest link; rather, it continues through innovation that enables new business connections.

This is another terrific storytelling opportunity for brands. Let your customers and consumers know you’re not just doing the standard, table-stakes work; rather, you’re doing the hard work of pulling new suppliers into the sustainability fold, helping them do right by the planet. That’s leadership and, ultimately, Americans are looking for companies and brands to lead on the environment.

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News of the Week

Midterm results: climate and energy score brilliant wins and stunning losses in the states – Forbes

In light of Tuesday’s midterm election, this article presents a state-by-state breakdown of various sustainability “wins” and “losses.” See how your state stacks up.

Companies kick in $90 million to fight plastic pollution in Asia – Plastics News

Dow Chemical Co., PepsiCo and Procter & Gamble, among other consumer product makers, are investing over $90 million in plastic waste management in Asia. The private capital will benefit areas of Asia undergoing rapid consumer growth that has resulted in increased plastic use and waste. A portion of the funding will address the problem of marine plastic waste in areas with limited waste management infrastructure.

Inside Home Depot’s sustainability and energy strategy – Greentech Media

Get a candid, inside look at this massive home improvement chain’s energy goals and sustainability strategy, which includes increases in renewable energy product sales (solar panels and wind turbines) and efforts to cut emissions by over 50 percent by 2035.

Do consumers really care whether brands take a stand?

Yes, they do. But your brand can’t choose just any stand and expect them to love you for it. Learn how social purpose can create connection with consumers.
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About the Author

Suzanne Shelton

Where Suzanne sees opportunity, you can bet results will follow. Drawing on her extensive knowledge of both the advertising world and the energy and environment arena, Suzanne provides unparalleled strategic insights to our clients and to audiences around North America. Suzanne is a guest columnist in multiple publications and websites, such as GreenBiz, and she speaks at around 20 conferences a year, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and Green Build.

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