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Archives for October 2011

Sustainability and Supply Chain Cost Savings

By Herb Shields | 10/19/2011 | 7:52 AM

The headline in the Sunday Review section of The New York Times on October 16th read – “Where did Global Warming Go?”  According to the article, both the public and the politicians in Washington have lost interest.  While that may be true, from a business and supply chain perspective, sustainability continues to be a priority.  In consumer products, major retailers such as Wal Mart and marketers such as Proctor & Gamble and Unilever continue their emphasis on sustainable products and practices.

 I had the opportunity during September to do two presentations on the subject of sustainability focused on the idea that not only is it the “right” thing to do from an environmental perspective, it can reduce costs as well.  The audiences were very different, one was a group of business owners in the construction industry, the second was the Northern Indiana chapter of the National Association of Purchasing Managers.  Both groups included companies who have already developed some activity aimed at sustainable products or operations.

 The key opportunities for mid-sized companies to save money by becoming more sustainable are usually in these areas:

  •  Energy reduction – implementing changes in process or equipment that result in less energy consumption
  • Energy cost savings – purchasing natural gas and/or electricity from non-regulated suppliers
  • Supply chain efficiencies – improving transportation practices to reduce fuel consumption, reducing the amount of packaging, using products that are greener in content, and reducing waste.

 I am not suggesting that these are the only possibilities, they are just examples.  If you want to know more, there are many industry resources that can help with each and every one.  DC Velocity has been publishing articles on the subject of sustainability regularly.  I do hope that, at some time in the future, both the public and public officials will realize that this is not a topic that can be ignored.  The preponderance of scientific data shows that global warming is real.  What business people recognize is that we can address the issue and save money at the same time.

The opinions expressed herein are those solely of the participants, and do not necessarily represent the views of Agile Business Media, LLC., its properties or its employees.

About Herb Shields

Herb Shields

Herb Shields has run Chicago-based HCS Consulting since 2000, helping clients across multiple industries and in higher education improve their supply chain strategy and execution. Shields has more than 30 years as an operations executive for capital equipment, automotive, electrical machinery and consumer products companies. As vice president of materials management at consumer goods company Helene Curtis, Shields led the supply chain organization that helped Helene Curtis win "Vendor of the Year" awards from Wal-Mart Stores and Target Corp. Shields has a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Clarkson University and did graduate work in business at Bowling Green State University.



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