Although sustainability has been a buzzword throughout supply chains since the dawn of the new millennium, the push to implement greener facility designs and practices has ebbed and flowed.
The reason, says Steve Osburn, director in Kurt Salmon Associates’ supply chain practice, is that—for the majority of companies—when they consider going green, most want to know what amount of green, as in dollars, is in it for them.
“For a lot of operations, when they look to take consumption out of their supply chains, the primary driver is saving money,” he says. “If sustainability is a byproduct of that, then great.”
That’s not to say, however, that a few businesses—among them UPS, Nike and REI—haven’t prioritized taking a more sustainable approach in their facilities and operations.
“Certain companies, particularly those for whom sustainability is an integral part of their corporate culture, are absolutely willing to take on those initiatives,” Osburn says, “even when the payback is longer than five years.”
Further, says John Patelski, an independent consultant on sustainable supply chain design practices, companies’ interest in environmental responsibility has grown in correlation with the growth in millennial spending habits.
“Millennials are looking at sustainability as an important component in the products they purchase and the companies they do business with. As they are transacting business, they want to do it with companies that are sustainable,” he says.
By Carol Miller, MHI Vice President of Marketing and Communications