Sustainability Is Providing a Competitive Edge and Adding Value Well Beyond Its Environmental Benefits
By Sarah B. Hood
I would argue that 2017 is the year of supply chain sustainability,” says Lisa Geason-Bauer, chief communications and sustainability officer for MHI member Eco-Latch Systems, makers of Box Latch Products. She point out that sustainability has become a key theme at venues from this year’s conference of the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which she participates in, to the new Sustainable Facility Solution Center at ProMat 2017.
“Sustainability has been pigeonholed as a political thing, but it’s not,” she says. “It’s good for business all across the board. We’re in a globally competitive world, and Europe has much stricter environmental regulations. You have to think about what you’re doing to be competitive.”
“Companies are reacting now,” says Christopher Castaldi, VP of sales for the warehouse consulting and system integration firm and MHI member DMW&H. “There are enough data points that say the majority of the country believes it’s not just the bottom line; they will pay a little more for a company that has consideration for the environment.”
He says he doesn’t believe Europe is leaving the U.S. entirely behind on this front. “The only LEED-platinum net-zero energy distribution center is in the United States, so now Europe’s coming to look at what we’re doing. And look at Tesla. We need to continue raising the bar,” he says.
The LEED-platinum distribution center that Castaldi refers to is a remarkable facility designed from the ground up by the outdoor recreation co-operative REI. Conceived through a charrette process by numerous expert collaborators versed in areas from architecture to material handling and sustainability, it is almost a textbook in sustainable supply chain design.