Executive Briefings

Smaller Companies Are Often on Their Own When It Comes to Sustainability Initiatives

A large part of the economy - those companies not named Walmart or Procter & Gamble, for instance - must fend for itself when it comes to environmental sustainability. Many smaller companies struggle to get basic process information from suppliers in order to complete a product lifecycle assessment. Asking the same suppliers to participate in efficiency improvements - some of which may require upfront investment and possibly payback periods greater than a year - is simply not realistic in most cases.

The obvious solution for most small and mid-sized businesses is to look inward, and focus on design and process improvements within the boundaries of their own organizations. But isn't sustainability all about (or mostly about) the supply chain? The short answer is, yes and no.

The supply chain provides the context in which a company can identify its most significant environmental impacts as well as opportunities. Most of the improvements that a company can make in this context will be within its own boundaries where it has full control.

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A large part of the economy - those companies not named Walmart or Procter & Gamble, for instance - must fend for itself when it comes to environmental sustainability. Many smaller companies struggle to get basic process information from suppliers in order to complete a product lifecycle assessment. Asking the same suppliers to participate in efficiency improvements - some of which may require upfront investment and possibly payback periods greater than a year - is simply not realistic in most cases.

The obvious solution for most small and mid-sized businesses is to look inward, and focus on design and process improvements within the boundaries of their own organizations. But isn't sustainability all about (or mostly about) the supply chain? The short answer is, yes and no.

The supply chain provides the context in which a company can identify its most significant environmental impacts as well as opportunities. Most of the improvements that a company can make in this context will be within its own boundaries where it has full control.

Read Full Article