Energy, water, garbage lead manufacturers' green strategies

4/23/2012

A new report on Canadian food and consumer products makers’ green programs finds that many companies have an environmental strategy in place but that not enough report on them.

The report, "Making An Impact", by Food and Consumer Products of Canada and the accounting firm KPMG, was based on a voluntary survey of members of FCPC. Of the 32 companies that responded to the survey, 88 per cent have an environmental sustainability strategy in place and 96 per cent have updated it within the last three years.

Among these companies, green efforts are focused primarily on three areas: energy conservation, water reduction and waste reduction. Over 90 per cent have programs to address energy and water conservation and 88 per cent are trying to cut garbage output.

Energy, water and waste seem to deliver the biggest bang for the buck, the report noted.

One of the biggest challenges companies cited in developing green programs is making a compelling business case for them. Other roadblocks included a lack of human resources and money.

Phil Ludvigsen, the director of carbon advisory services at KPMG, said Canadian companies are doing a good job compared to the rest of the world. Only 62 per cent of companies globally have a corporate sustainability strategy in place, versus 88 per cent in Canada.

Ludvigsen said, Canadian companies are making “fundamental shifts to their business models” in the area of sustainability.

Not surprisingly, saving money, is a major reason for adding a sustainability strategy. Forty-four per cent of companies cited improving internal processes and cost reduction as the chief reason for going green.

Interestingly, no company cited pressure from retailers to meet green scorecards as the top reason for introducing a sustainability program, although six per cent listed it as the second most important reason.

The report found that while almost all companies set targets and track their green performance, only about half report their progress publicly. By comparison, 64 per cent of the world’s top companies report their sustainability achievements, KPMG said.

Regardless of whether information is made public or not, the report concluded that benchmarking sustainability will become vital for the consumer packaged goods industry over the next few years in order to demonstrate the business case for investing in green programs and technologies.

In a webinar that coincided with the release of the report, Rachel Kagan, FCPC’s senior director of sustainability, said that her association is working with its American counterpart, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, on sustainability benchmarks.

The full KPMG/FCPC report is available here.

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