Progress Is Taking a New Direction Big players in retail and consumer products are beginning to see that business and a better world don’t have to be at odds. They’re taking the lead in cleaning up their supply chains to cut waste and pollution … and strengthen profits … and stock shelves across America with more sustainably produced goods. In this story of progress, everyone wins. Powerful Business: The Lever for Change Across the Supply Chain
Up and down the supply chain, “business as usual” is actually hurting bottom lines and the planet. Big retailers and consumer products companies have the leverage to change how things are done. When they speak, their suppliers respond. If they commit to sell products made in sustainable ways or with sustainable ingredients, then everyone in the chain, from farmers and chemical producers to agribusinesses and distributors, will take action to make the end product safer and more sustainable.
Environmental Defense Fund has found that cleaning up a few key areas along the supply chain can make the greatest impact. Click around on the supply chains below to find out what can happen when powerful businesses use their leverage to impact deforestation, fertilizer pollution and hazardous chemicals.
logistics distributor distributor distributor cereal grain buyer chemical producer impact zone slaughterhouse farmer/fertilizer impact zone ag services provider impact zone cattle ranch/deforestation stockyard beef retail personal care products food products company personal care products company food products company Retail Retailers have the power to make big changes and good reasons to make them: Nearly three-fourths of consumers want to buy more sustainable products – plus, up to 80% of a big retailer’s environmental impact can actually build up in its supply chain. Retailers can set aggressive but achievable sustainability goals for suppliers that allow everyone to thrive with a smaller environmental footprint. Cattle ranch/ Deforestation When cattle ranchers push into undeveloped forests, they release literally tons of greenhouse gases into the air as they clear the land and leave the soil to be carried away by wind and water. With help from companies up the supply chain, they can find ways to keep their businesses competitive because they’re not sacrificing the land they depend on. impact zone Food Products Company Beef is one of the biggest culprits in deforestation around the globe, but the companies who package and brand America’s beef can throw their weight behind better practices for raising and grazing cattle. If they agree to protect the sensitive forests that are often cleared for pastures, they can put pressure on suppliers who don’t change their ways. CONSUMER PRODUCTS Slaughterhouse & Stockyard When a food products company has a relationship with the slaughterhouses and stockyards, these companies will be on alert to process sustainably raised beef – or else lose business. They can also curry partnerships with food products companies by using more sustainable transportation methods. Distributor Distributors will be quick to stock more of the products that help the retailer meet its new sustainability goals. They’ll also rethink their warehousing and shipping practices to help retailers cut down on their carbon emissions. personal care products Company Hundreds of thousands of chemicals make it into everyday products – and a significant chunk of those chemicals could have serious effects on human health and the environment. These companies can take a stand on the ingredients in their personal care products and phase out hazardous chemicals by collaborating with retailers and suppliers. CONSUMER PRODUCTS Distributor Distributors will be quick to stock more of the products that help the retailer meet its new sustainability goals. They’ll also rethink their warehousing and shipping practices to help retailers cut down on their carbon emissions. Chemical Producer When the chemical producers’ biggest customers ask for safer chemical options, they have good reason to start supplying different ingredients. They’ll keep their companies healthy now, and they’ll be ready for the future, when more and more retailers and manufacturers (not to mention government agencies) plan to tighten their chemical content policies even further. impact zone Food Products Company The chain reaction can start with retail or with the companies who turn raw materials into the products consumers love. Either way, a cereal manufacturer can raise the bar for its ingredients by calling on grainsuppliers to use fertilizer in more efficient ways. CONSUMER PRODUCTS Farmer/fertilizer Judging the right amount of fertilizer for a field is tricky without the right information. In fact, about half the fertilizer American corn farmers apply to their fields is lost to the air or water before plants can use it. Yet fertilizer represents half the farmers’ operating costs! Meeting grain buyers’ new standards for fertilizer use means farmers will reap cost savings and better prepare themselves for the future, all while slashing pollution. FERTILIZER read the s t ory How better fertilizer use yields many benefits impact zone grain buyer Grain buyers and elevator companies will be on the lookout for grains that meet cereal manufacturers’ new standards, sourcing more from farmers who use fertilizer efficiently – and helping their current farmers improve operations. Agricultural Services Provider They’ve built a personal relationship – and trust – with farmers. Service providers that also dispense advice to farmers are the perfect link in the chain to help retailers, manufacturers and EDF put fertilizer information and tools right into farmers’ hands. Distributor Distributors will be quick to stock more of the products that help the retailer meet its new sustainability goals. They’ll also rethink their warehousing and shipping practices to help retailers cut down on their carbon emissions. Logistics Global freight emissions are expected to shoot up in the next few decades, thanks to ever- increasing consumer demand. At the same time, retailers and consumer products companies will be cutting emissions wherever possible. If logistics providers, shipping companies and freight carriers build a cleaner, cost-efficient freight system, those "lever" businesses – and their suppliers – will choose it over less efficient competitors. Consumer Seventy percent of consumers are actively searching for more sustainable products these days – but at the shelf, they feel like they have to choose between the sustainable product and the affordable one. Once sustainability is baked into all the products on the shelves at major retailers, they’ll get both.