Green initiatives that work
In its continuing effort to keep the marketers of “green” products honest, The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in October released its revised “Green Guides,” a set of guidelines meant to help and remind marketers and advertisers who make claims that are “truthful and non-deceptive.” While the guides aren’t technically regulations, they describe the types of environmental claims the FTC may or may not find deceptive under Section 5 of the FTC Act. The Act allows the FTC to take “enforcement action” against deceptive claims, which can lead to Commission orders prohibiting deceptive advertising. If a company then violates these orders, it would be subject to fines.
Industry initiatives also provide companies with a platform on which to devise and build their greenhouse gas emissions reporting initiatives. For example, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) provides companies and organizations with a comprehensive sustainability-reporting framework aimed at promoting economic, environmental and social sustainability.
Additionally, the future of public reporting will have an even greater focus on transparency. The continued push for corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting is one such indicator. The Dow Jones Sustainability Index defines CSR as a business approach that creates long-term shareholder value by embracing opportunities and managing risks deriving from economic, environmental and social developments. The GRI’s sustainability reporting framework looks more broadly at an organization’s economic, environmental, social and governance performance and organization’s ability to maintain that performance. Establishing a sustainability reporting process, according to the GRI, helps organizations set goals, measure performance and manage change; and is a key platform for communicating positive and negative sustainability impacts—including trade-offs.
Deploy the steps today
What’s critical is that companies determine the best supply chain measures that meet their specific requirements and strategic goals and then analyze and compare those measures to understand if—and where—any tradeoffs might occur. Through lifecycle assessments that leverage what-if scenarios and modeling and risk/opportunity matrices, companies can strike the right balance as they optimize supply chain operations and reduce their supply chain’s environmental footprint.
By utilizing the latest in lifecycle assessment services, network design, optimization and planning systems—which incorporate environmental footprint considerations—executives can both incorporate environmental practices within their supply chain, while at the same time provide people with a transparent view of their entire supply chain.
Companies today can and should be a force for good—blazing the trail on how to care for the environment. By adopting cutting-edge tools and services to help better understand a companies’ environmental challenges and opportunities, executives can indeed adapt to the inevitable trade-offs while still achieving environmental and financial success together.
Dr. Chet Chaffee is Vice President, Life Cycle Assessment at FirstCarbon Solutions, Irvine, Calif. With over 50 technical papers to his credit, Chaffee provided expert testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Trade Commission. As former executive vice president at Scientific Certification Systems, he directed over 200 lifecycle and sustainability initiatives for General Motors, Home Depot and Unilever.