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Consumers and suppliers alike seem to be supporting environmental efforts for business efficiency.  A recent Deloitte Consulting study indicates that 85 percent of U.S. consumer business companies have active sustainability initiatives, many of them aided by nonprofit organizations that attempt to facilitate collaborative efforts among large companies.

In particular, CEOs of large companies are focusing on sustainable packaging, which means going beyond just increasing the recycled or renewable content. It also requires redesigning the packaging and minimizing the environmental impact associated with producing and transporting the goods. In 2005, the nonprofit Sustainable Packaging Coalition began encouraging education and innovation in this realm; two years later, it partners with more than 100 companies, including Proctor & Gamble, Microsoft Corp., and Coca-Cola Co.

This green movement is no small feat, and many large companies and their consumers are committing to making changes that will affect the environment.  Wal-Mart is cutting the packaging used in its global supply chain by 5 percent by 2013 and mandating a packaging scorecard for its 66,000 vendors.  This scorecard measures suppliers’ performance compared with its competitors in terms of reducing greenhouse gases, product-to-packaging ratios, and recycled content.

It seems remarkable that companies voluntarily are making big investments in their efforts to help the environment.  Redesigning product packaging and reducing transportation costs are neither time efficient processes nor easy changes. Yet something has gotten these companies to change. Perhaps by the end of this decade, the green movement will reach a new level of development and commitment.

Discussion Questions:

1. Do you use plastic bags to carry your groceries, or do you have a bag that you reuse again and again?

Boyer, Mike, “Packaging Goes Green—Consumer Demands, Costs Drive Design Changes,” The Enquirer, July 08, 2007.