Authored by Anthony Piunno, Industrial Marketing Manager, Current, powered by GE
When Walmart launched a sustainability initiative in April 2017, its main goal was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its supply chain. The goal is right in the name: Project Gigaton. Eliminate 1 gigaton, or 1 billion metric tons, of emissions from its operations and suppliers by 2030—the equivalent of taking 211 million cars off the road for a year.
While Project Gigaton is certainly notable, Walmart is not the only brand incorporating sustainability strategies into its business and that of its partners. There’s a reason so many big-name consumer brands are putting an emphasis on sustainability. We all benefit from this social responsibility, but consumer retail companies that are willing to become more sustainable can reap the benefits in many ways. Here are three reasons why these businesses may experience more success in the future.
Consumers Want to Buy Sustainable Brands
Corporate sustainability is top of mind for consumers. A 2015 Nielson report found that two-thirds of consumers across the globe are willing to pay more for sustainable goods, regardless of their location or income level. That number is even higher when surveying millennials: Nearly 3 out of 4 shoppers in this age group said they would pay extra to buy sustainable items. These consumers look for qualities like how environmentally friendly a company is, if it has a commitment to certain social values and if the product is made with fresh or organic ingredients.
Consumers want to make purchases that reflect their values, and that often means purposefully buying from sustainable brands. To connect with these potential customers and build trust, organizations need to introduce sustainability initiatives, and convey their efforts and results transparently.
The Future Is Green
The supply chain is ripe for sustainable strategies. More than half of respondents to a Supply Chain Management Review survey said suppliers play a “substantial role” in achieving environmental sustainability. Not only are their efforts critical for the globe, but they are also instrumental in ensuring long-term viability. Companies that move to ensure sustainable resourcing and operations now can minimize risks and prepare themselves for a future with stricter environmental regulations or more limited supply options.
Major consumer brands have already started embracing corporate sustainability through actions like eliminating packaging waste, and these efforts will become increasingly important—and widespread—in the future. Amazon, for example, set initiatives that reduced packaging waste by 16%, and it incorporated energy-efficient technologies into offices and warehouses across the globe. Target is similarly implementing sustainable packaging into its production and distribution centers by using materials from sustainably managed forests and cutting back on hard-to-cycle foam packaging. These changes make a drastic impact over time and are important steps toward improving supply chain sustainability.
Brands Can Save Money with Energy-Efficient Operations
The advantages of going green aren’t hypothetical or in the distant future. Organizations can get immediate returns when they implement energy-efficient technologies. LED lighting is an example of an energy-saving solution that can have an immediate impact. Replacing legacy HID or halogen lamps with more efficient LED fixtures is a great place to start because it is a low risk investment with a fast payback. These fixtures can drastically reduce energy consumption in large spaces like manufacturing facilities, warehouses and distribution centers.
Even more savings can be recognized by transforming those lighting fixtures into smart objects with sensors and controls. Standard lighting controls such as motion and occupancy sensing help conserve energy when spaces are unoccupied, while more advanced lighting controls allow you to perform tasks such as automated scheduling and further tailor the light output to meet the specific needs of the space. This type of connected lighting network creates a future-proof environment that not only produces immediate savings, but also opens up additional energy saving opportunities down the road. When more advanced technologies are released, they can be easily integrated into that kind of ‘smart’ infrastructure.
Sustainability is the future of consumer brands. It affects all aspects of a business, from production to distribution to consumer popularity. Companies that succeed in these areas in the future will be the ones who start preparing for it today.
To learn more about sustainable supply chains, watch the “Rollback Your Energy” webinar.