Companies look to push greener supply chain
MADISON, Dec 08, 2012 (Menafn - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --Kohl's Corp. has won recognition for its green initiatives, but often what gets most of the attention are its stores with solar panels on the roofs.
But the Menomonee Falls retailer is making strides in other areas, whether in converting stores to green-certified buildings, now numbering more than 300, or improving the environmental performance of its supply chain, said June Fischer, Kohl's senior manager of corporate sustainability.
Kohl's suppliers are being graded on how well they're achieving targets, whether it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, cutting waste in their manufacturing process or taking steps to reduce packaging, she said.
The process has been gradual, she told participants at the Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council conference at American Family Insurance Co. headquarters. More than 320 people attended the event.
"When we started, we decided we were going to walk the talk and focus on our own operations to make sure that our house was in order before we went out to the supply chain," she said. "It just puts you in a much better spot in terms of credibility."
On a much smaller scale, Alterra Coffee Roasters is looking to sustainability through its fair-trade alliance with the Kulaktik Cooperative in southern Mexico and its work with local food suppliers like Sassy Cow Creamery or Yuppie Hill eggs, said Lincoln Fowler, one of Alterra's founders. "We're trying to create some virtuous circles of commerce so that there's an exchange of value," he said.
Businesses looking at sustainable initiatives need to be ready to measure where they are and set reduction goals, knowing that some will be easier and more cost-effective to achieve than others, said John Mourand of Briggs & Stratton Corp.
Briggs is focusing its attention on projects with payback, such as moves to reduce the energy intensity of its factories by 25% by 2018. After four years, the company's energy intensity has been cut 10%, Mourand said.
For other companies, particularly in the packaging sector, a key focus is to work with other companies to find markets for things that have long been thought of as trash, said Kaitlyn Gilles of Green Bay Packaging.
"You want to set up strategic partnerships with other companies. That's where you can find somebody who's going to use these waste streams again. We want to partner with you to divert your waste or our waste," she said.
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