by Greg Lathan

The first article of EI’s blog series, “Launching a Sustainability Program at Your Facility: Begin with Some Easy Wins,” emphasized the importance of identifying initiatives which would result in sustainability program successes and promoting these early victories to motivate workforce participation. The second article in the series, “Engaging Employees as Sustainability Stakeholders,” highlighted various avenues for engaging employees to become corporate sustainability advocates.

Once the workforce has been recruited for the challenge, your sustainability program is ready for the next step: building sustainability into your company’s brand! It is well documented that sustainability sells. 66% of all consumers indicate they would pay a premium for a product if it came from a sustainable brand, with 70% of millennials having a similar view. More significant, 90% of CEOs feel that sustainable brands are key to success in business. 

A sustainable brand is one that has successfully integrated environmental, economic and social issues into its business operations. 

Building a sustainable brand is an ongoing process, one which should be perceived as a business journey and not a destination. Early in the process of sustainability program development, identify some simple wins for branding your products as sustainable (sound familiar?), especially those which are easy to baseline and evaluate on a periodic basis to monitor program success. Just like the early sustainability wins you showcased to the workforce to motivate employee participation, there are likely obvious initiatives where your company can begin the process of branding your products and company as sustainable.

A good place to focus your initial efforts towards sustainable branding is your supply chain.
Is your Purchasing Department sourcing locally wherever there is an opportunity to do so? Are there vendors who can assist your operation in recycling manufacturing waste back into the precursors produced for your company’s industrial processes? Do these suppliers have a sustainability program? Are they willing to work closely with your company to innovate pathways that will facilitate branding of your company’s products as sustainable? How about shipping and receiving? Can routing improvements be made for incoming raw product/supplies used in manufacturing during shipment of final product to customers, which will result in lowered transportation costs and CO2 emissions? Initiatives from Corporate Purchasing and/or Shipping/Receiving can be used to facilitate early sustainability wins in branding. Once you have these relatively easy victories in place, you will be ready to tackle incorporating sustainability into brand via more complex changes in areas such as manufacturing and packaging to reflect sustainability in your company/product brand, both nationally and globally.

Next: Selling the benefits of sustainability to corporate management.

How Can We Help?
The EI Group, Inc. (EI) provides a comprehensive array of services for the development and execution of sustainability initiatives relevant to your business. We actively seek ways to improve sustainability performance while supporting business goals. Contact us today at (800) 717-3472 or [email protected] to learn more!