In an internet search for the
term “Sustainability” you will find an abundance of topics many of us are
familiar with, such as solar cells, wind turbines, zero-emission vehicles, and
similar “green” topics. Is “sustainability”
just a buzz word that makes people feel good or does it have real value for
Sustainability has been a
popular political campaign topic in recent years. Concepts such as carbon cap and trade,
alternative/renewable energy, oil independence, and energy efficiency have been
proclaimed to be important initiatives for national administrations. However, most federal administrations have
difficulty balancing the needs of the environment with the needs of industry in
a way that causes significant and meaningful advances in our national policy
So is the concept of
sustainability dead as realistic goal for our nation? Is sustainability too “pie-in-the-sky” to be
cost-effective in our competitive industrial marketplace? We don’t think so and neither do many of our
industrial clients. Sustainability can
be profitable! August Mack has worked
with many industrial clients to find ways to decrease operating costs, improve
efficiency, while at the same time making significant sustainability advances
in their operations. One client has
found an alternative use for former waste products which is helping to
eliminate the landfilling of 17,000,000 pounds of industrial by-product. Another client was able to make process
changes which eliminated $5,000 per month in wastewater surcharges and saved
$300,000 in capital costs.
These examples, like many others
we have seen, have a common characteristic; they are typically not driven by a
sustainability justification/objective but rather by cost considerations,
regulatory requirements and production needs.
The decisions made by these firms were not driven by concerns that the
public recognize their green initiatives but simply because these decisions
made the most sense from a production and profitability standpoint. In many cases, these firms have failed to
fully capitalize on the value of the “green aspects” of these projects.
Our society places a value on
products and services which emphasize the sustainable aspects of
production. Brand value, employee
satisfaction, natural resources impact, and many other factors have been shown
to be affected by increasing the sustainable aspects of production. Companies who emphasize sustainability are
perceived as better corporate citizens and that positive perception reflects
onto their products.
So how does a company begin
capitalizing on making their operations more sustainable? Like most things, it starts with a plan. Pick a baseline year and evaluate you impact
on resources; be thorough and look at every aspect of your operation and even
your supplier’s operations. Put together
a sustainability plan that includes ways to reduce resource consumption, reduce
waste and use less environmentally costly options where possible. As you implement your sustainability plan
make sure your track your performance and document those improvements in a
sustainability report so you can tell everyone where you came from and where
you are going.
Many Fortune 500 companies re re-branding themselves because green sells. Not only can sustainable practices enhance your brand image it may also increase your efficiency and decrease your operating costs. It is important to implement sustainability initiatives in the context of a comprehensive plan so you know where you are going and what you want to achieve.
For more information on sustainability initiatives, sign up to attend the webinar on June 10, 2020.