Cleantech in the Supply Chain


 The importance of environmental sustainability in the supply chain and its impact on small business.

Many small companies are vendors to larger companies or to governments—their products and services being inputs at some stage of a supply chain. Buyers of these products, like many businesses are increasingly compelled to consider the sustainability—i.e. the environmental impact of their business practices, and that includes the products they buy in the normal course of business and the way companies manage their vendor relationships.

Topics of interest include:

  • How Energy Efficiency Impacts on Property Value
  •  Rio+20: What the Outcomes Mean for Business Today (Webinar)
  • Lessons from the Supply Chain Clinic: 5 emerging tips to pinpoint and tackle supply chain hotspots

In many ways the current practice is an outgrowth of the trend toward closer vendor relationships that goes back as far as the 1980s. There are also ideas from project management and total quality management. Energy inefficiency can be looked at as a quality defect.

There are opportunities for small companies that can support large players such as the 2 Degrees members drive profit through sustainability.

  • Innovation – Early stage companies will find a receptive audience if their invention is truly a better mousetrap as an energy saver, a cost saver or gives greater energy output per dollar vs the competition
  • Distribution – Ice Melt (US Eco-Products), LED lights (Everwild), Office Products (Keith Gamble), Renewables—Japan initiative
  • Recycle, reuse, & refurbish – Roxbury Technologies, a Boston manufacturer supplies refurbished toner cartridges to Staples
  • Measuring & Management
  • Exporting SustainabilityJapan’s initiative to promote renewable energy creates opportunities for companies to penetrate a new market. Yes the barriers can be challenging but the rewards are considerable

How does small business prepare?

  • Incorporate sustainability into your company’s strategic plan
  • Promote the environmentally friendly features of your business. Products, process and internal operations. Your prospective customers will not only notice the sustainability aspects of your products, but also how you incorporate sustainability in products you buy your facilities management practices, and perhaps even your accounting methods.
  • Capitalize. Becoming a contributor to supply chain sustainability is a long term endeavor and long term endeavors require capital to implement a plan which requires significant investments to secure contracts. Be sure to take into account the working capital impact as well as capital acquisition required in your sustainability plan.

Suppliers who help their customers make their businesses environmentally sustainable will have a competitive advantage that will help them sell into the global supply chain. Furthermore, what is today an advantage will soon be a requirement for any supplier expecting to remain competitive.

Guest post by Zintro Expert Darnley Howard

Zintro, Inc

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