Greening the bottom line: grocers can reap the rewards of a comprehensive sustainability strategy.RETAILERS ARE INVESTING IN MORE SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES BECAUSE IT SAVES THEM MONEY AND ALSO HELPS THEM STAND OUT IN A CROWDED AND COMPETITIVE MARKETPLACE. Consider Home Depot's recent announcement that it will introduce 3,000 products that conserve energy and promote sustainability, or Wal-Mart's highly publicized pub·li·cize
tr.v. pub·li·cized, pub·li·ciz·ing, pub·li·ciz·es
To give publicity to.
Adj. 1. publicized - made known; especially made widely known
publicised investment in energy efficiency and waste reduction initiatives.
There's no doubt that resource efficient practices can create considerable cost savings. But investing in a more sustainable workplace can also inspire greater corporate and social responsibility, reduce turnover and create a better place to work. The following are some steps retailers can take in this direction.
HIRE A SUSTAINABILITY CHAMPION
To start, retailers need to set a sustainability goal. Because achieving important business goals requires an agent, hiring a sustainability manager is a key component to success.
The ideal sustainability manager has a business background, preferably a green Masters of Business Administration, along with sustainability know-how. Investing $60,000 to $75,000 in annual salary on this leadership role may seem like a massive investment, but the right person can quickly provide return on the investment through savings. For example, REI saved one million kilowatt-hours a year (equivalent to turning off the power in three stores per year) by retrofitting the lighting at just one distribution center. By improving efficiency at their New Hampshire New Hampshire, one of the New England states of the NE United States. It is bordered by Massachusetts (S), Vermont, with the Connecticut R. forming the boundary (W), the Canadian province of Quebec (NW), and Maine and a short strip of the Atlantic Ocean (E). yogurt yogurt: see fermented milk.
Semisolid, fermented, often flavoured milk food. Yogurt is known and consumed in almost all parts of the world. plant, Stonyfield Farm Stonyfield Farm is an organic yogurt maker located in Londonderry, New Hampshire, in the USA. The company makes the number-one selling brand of organic yogurt and number-three overall yogurt brand in the United States. saved over $1.7 million and 46 million kilowatt kilowatt: see watt. hours of energy. By reducing cereal cereal
Any grass yielding starchy seeds suitable for food. The most commonly cultivated cereals are wheat, rice, rye, oats, barley, corn, and sorghum. As human food, cereals are usually marketed in raw grain form or as ingredients of food products. packaging materials by 10%, Nature's Path Organic Foods saved 1.3 million liters of water, 942,128 KwH of energy, and 144 tons of paperboard paperboard, material similiar in shape and composition to paper, but generally thicker, stronger, and more rigid. Paper machines, e.g., Fourdrinier machines, are used to make sheets of paperboard. in a year.
In the future, employers won't be hiring specific sustainability managers, instead requiring that all managers understand sustainability.
NURTURE A MORE SUSTAINABLE CULTURE
Next, employees need to get on board. People are motivated by money, so retailers need to show employees how a greener workplace will put greenbacks in their pockets. Grocers should demonstrate how much the bonus pool can grow when a percentage of the company's collective savings are reinvested and paid out when the company goal is attained. It is also important to design a sustainability policy that specifically outlines energy, water and waste reduction initiatives. Sustainability efforts can be measured in teams or individually, but to make a real impact, they need to be a part of employee development plans and measured in performance reviews.
Giving employees sustainability benefits will also encourage and involve them. Subsidizing employee transit is a great benefit. Employees save money on gas and other fees and more spaces open up for customers. But not everyone can take transit every day, so the next-best alternative is to encourage carpooling or even offer hybrid grants for employees who want to invest in greener vehicles. Grocers can also encourage employees to ride to work by installing bike racks that end up being a statement about the company's commitment to the environment.
START THINKING LEAN
Retailers also have to makes changes in their business practices to reach a sustainability goal. Increasing productivity, reducing costs and improving quality are the ingredients of a lean philosophy. To achieve sustainability goals, grocers need to start challenging the way things have always been done. If retailers are not already doing so, they need to take a systematic approach to business. Define (and continually redefine Verb 1. redefine - give a new or different definition to; "She redefined his duties"
define, delimit, delimitate, delineate, specify - determine the essential quality of
2. ) strategic goals, determine who is being served and align business processes to help achieve the goal. Make the goal a key driver for the process and then align employees and resources to fit. A standardized system of thinking through processes before acting will save time, effort, labor and cash. For those interested in learning more about lean thinking, Toyota Way by Jeffrey K. Liker is suggested reading.
SPONSOR ENVIRONMENTAL CAUSES
Finally, make giving back to the environment a way of life for employees and make customers aware of the company's efforts. Create a "Green Team" at work where employees give back to the community by cleaning up roads or rivers or planting community gardens. Start by sponsoring an environmental cause in a neighborhood. Community groups and teachers always appreciate the extra help.
Doing good is good for business if customers are made aware of the retailer's efforts. One way retailers can gain recognition is through national programs like Adopt A Highway.
Creating sustainable practices that are better for the environment, the community and employees will be reflected in the bottom line.
Maria Emmer-Annes is director of marketing for Nature's Path Organic Foods. She can be reached at email@example.com or (604) 248-8856.