Sustainability Makes Business Sense, Too

Meet the 2013 Green Supply Chain Award winners; plus another Bangladesh update

There are numerous reasons to run a green business and supply chain. It can save money, and it can help keep our air and water cleaner, which helps keep people healthier. All well and good, but maybe there’s a simpler way to say it: It’s the right thing to do.

Our 2013 Green Supply Chain Award winners exemplify that feeling. In fact, our featured winner, PITT OHIO, a Pittsburgh-based company that grew from an LTL business in 1979 to a transportation solutions provider, sets the tone right in the boardroom. Owner and president Charles Hammel’s vision is just that, and he makes sure it flows throughout the company. The focus is on people, planet and profit. They all work together.

For example, drivers are trained to eliminate waste and pollution with proper shifting, speed and no-idle procedures. Every PITT OHIO facility recycles waste and paper, and all facilities were retrofitted with energy-efficient appliances and lighting, and water conservation equipment. Additionally, emissions are continuously measured so adjustments can be made. It makes for good business.

For more on PITT OHIO and our other honorees, please turn to page 8. And then, enjoy all the information-packed articles in this issue. You’re sure to find something of interest that can help your supply chain.

Meanwhile, I’ve been keeping tabs on the aftermath of the apparel building collapse in Rana, Bangladesh, which I’ve discussed in my last two Executive Memos. Here’s the scoop.

First, I’m very happy that more than 100 apparel companies have signed the Accord for Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, an independent, binding agreement designed to make all garment factories in Bangladesh safe workplaces. It includes independent safety inspections at factories, along with public reporting of the results. Signees are committed to ensuring that repairs are carried out, there are sufficient funds to do so and the workers continue to be paid.

In addition to the 112 apparel corporations (as of this writing) from 19 countries in Europe, North America, Asia and Australia, two global trade unions and several Bangladeshi unions have come on board. I’m sorry to say, however, that apparel giant The Gap and mega-retailer Walmart still have not signed the accord.

Some of the greatest movements in history have been generated by the young. USA Today reports that a group called United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) has held teach-ins and vigils at 30 colleges across the country to mark the six-month anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse. USAS has also launched a new campaign to pressure clothing companies to sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.

Student activists ask their schools to issue an ultimatum to those companies that have not yet signed on or contract with a company that has.

"I think, as students, we have this amazing opportunity that we're never going to have again in our lives," Julia Wang, a senior at the University of Southern California, and the international solidarity coordinator for USAS, told USA Today. “Our universities have multi-million dollar contracts with these large brands, so we need to use this strategic leverage right now in order to pressure these brands to sign.”

Thank you, Julia. And trust me, if you stay involved, there will be more opportunities for you to make a difference.