By Darci Gold
Partnering with logistics solution company CHEP, IGEL of the Wharton School presented a conference centered around sustainability through the supply chain. Provoking a complex conversation about the ins and outs of companies currently exhibiting a steady stream of environmental consciousness, the event took place at the University of Pennsylvania, February eighth.
The morning’s first speaker, David Clark (Vice President of Safety Environment, and Sustainability, Amco) highlighted the importance of packaging with a sustainability mindset. Amco, a manufacturing company, specializes in rigid and flexible packaging goods. With annual sales surpassing ten billion dollars in revenue, it has vowed to protect resources that are considered necessary to create its products. Its innovation and concern for the environment made Amco responsible for saving seven million pounds of resin for customers in the last fiscal year. In his closing minutes, Mr. Clark made poignant remarks on the discussion of biodegradability versus recycling, and interacted with numerous eager questioners in the audience. Mr. Clark made clear Amco’s sustainability initiative was a key driver in the company’s success.
Senior Director of Customer Supply Chain Integration of PepsiCo, Dennis Donelon spoke next about the manufacturing aspect of sustainability. Playing a significant role in the continuing success of the company, Mr. Donelon spoke to the necessity of environmental friendliness in business. Within the next decade, the multi-billion dollar company will seek to further protect the planet, improve the nutritional value of product, and empower the public to pursue innovation. The importance of considering fact and data when forming opinion was stressed, as well as the concept of “end to end collaboration.” Mr. Donelon expressed PepsiCo’s sincere pledge to protect the environment by citing the company’s goals to limit its usage of water and other resources commonly used to manufacture its products.
Providing the retail perspective, Mike Graham of Meijer conveyed the grocer’s strategy and commitment to sustainability. Mr. Graham described Meijer’s solutions to limiting the company’s contribution to the waste stream; simply finding use for residual organic product and selling it as a separate commodity. The company’s longstanding support of sustainability is set to continue by further incorporating recycling into the production design and by establishing a supplier code of conduct within Meijer, itself.
Vice President of Nielsen, Wendy Salomon advocated for visibility and communication between consumers and producers. According to recent data, sixty-six percent of the populations of sixty countries said they would pay more for sustainable products versus cheaper, less clean options. Based on this and other research, Ms. Salomon essentially concluded that the consumer genuinely cares about which companies they support. Therefore, adopting sustainability into one’s business model can promote the general public opinion and consumption of a company’s product. An additional conclusion derived from Nielsen’s research was that millennials value a social and environmental consciousness in their employer. Ms. Salomon urged businesses to connect sustainability to consistent themes throughout their history in order to be believable and appealing to the consumer.
Finally, host of the event and President of CHEP North America, Kim Rumph spoke to the audience. CHEP (a producer of pallets, crates, and containers) has adopting a “pooled” assets model in order to promote sustainability. The logistics solutions company has successfully aided numerous businesses in their goals to move toward a more sustainable model. Essentially, CHEP shares its three-hundred million reusable products across sixty countries. Ms. Rumph consistently stressed the importance of sharing and collaboration in order to promote sustainability.
Throughout the entire conference, each business leader advised partnership and teamwork. They all acknowledged the obligation of major companies to actively seek to adopt practices that protect and preserve the environment. Packaging, manufacturing, selling, and consuming sustainable goods is not only moral but incredibly beneficial for business. Closing the loop of the circular economy and campaigning for corporate care for the environment depends on consumer interaction, innovation, partnership, and collaboration.