Accelerate Greening the Supply Chain

A fast-growing manufacturing start-up is spending $36,000/year on garbage hauling. If they set up a strong recycling program, they could cut their garbage bills in half.  Their main customer wants suppliers to work on waste reduction but the company is too busy hiring and delivering product for their client to work on greening projects.

In San Joaquin County, Calif., 25 businesses have signed up to become green business certified but can’t find the time to do energy efficiency, water conservation, and waste reduction projects.

Large corporations like WalMart, Samsung, IBM, and Hilton Hotels have greened their own operations and are now asking their suppliers for evidence of Environmental Management Systems and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventories to green their operations.

Why aren’t more medium-sized businesses greening their operations? What is standing in their way?

To break through this logjam, suppliers need to have a conversation about two topics. They need to sit down and calculate the bottom line savings of three potential benefits.

1)      Operational costs - The first step is to gather 12 months of energy, water, materials and waste bills. This gives an overall sense of the potential savings and helps managers figure out where to focus efforts.

2)      Employee retention – How much does it cost to replace an employee: recruiting, relocation (if applicable), training and lost productivity? Companies with strong sustainability programs have better employee retention.

3)      Increased sales – What is the value to the company of potential increased sales from greening operations? WalMart wants a score of 80/100 or higher to qualify for its Sustainability Leaders certification. Operational greening provides a competitive advantage.

Once top management calculates the potential benefits, figuring out how to get the projects done is the next challenge. Do they reassign someone internal to work on the projects or do they hire a new full-time employee? Often the prospect of a new hire can be daunting when a company only needs six to twelve months of part-time effort.

This is where Appraccel can help. After scoping out priority greening projects to define the level of effort needed, Appraccel embeds highly-trained “sustainability temps” with strong technical, financial analysis and communication skills to quickly implement greening projects. This is a great solution for suppliers that have been wanting to realize the benefits of greening their operations but have been focused on their core business activities. 

Graphic: The Sustainability Consortium