Studies show industry embraces sustainability

John Kalkowski

January 30, 2014

2 Min Read
Studies show industry embraces sustainability
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Can it be any surprise that 31 percent of companies say their sustainability practices now contribute to their profitability, or that 70 percent of companies have placed sustainability permanently on their management agendas? Those facts are among the results of a survey of 2,800 corporate leaders recently completed by MIT Sloan Management Review and the Boston Consulting Group.


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The authors of the study focus on "harvesters"-those whose companies claim to glean profits from sustainability. The report indicates these companies have a mindset and structure geared toward supporting sustainability. Sure, they have "individual initiatives" to reduce carbon emissions and energy consumption, use renewable materials and recycle where possible. However, the study also says harvesters are 50 percent more likely to have CEO commitment to sustainability, and twice as likely to have a sustainability reporting process and a separate management function for sustainability.

As Knuth Haanaes, a Boston Consulting associate and study author, says: "Companies that have had it (sustainability) on their agenda and have worked on it for years, are now seeing tangible results."

In its study on sustainability, the Retail Industry Leaders Assn., whose members represent more than $1.5 trillion in annual sales, says: "For some retailers, sustainability was built into their core values from the beginning; for others it has been embraced only more recently. Regardless of its origin, sustainability is becoming a core consideration for the retail industry."

That report points to four emerging trends:

• Working across sectors to achieve sustainability goals;

• Turning from sustainability as a cost and risk-reduction measure to an opportunity for business growth;

• Developing systems for continuous improvement;

• Providing greater disclosure about operations and activities across the supply chain.

Those in packaging may feel bombarded by sustainability messages, but as these studies point out, sustainability is here to stay.

This edition leads up to a big month in sustainability, highlighted by the Sustainability in Packaging conference produced by Packaging Digest and Pira Intl., to be held March 13-14 in Orlando, FL. This month's cover story on p.20 features Jason Foster, founder and chief reuser of Replenish, who will speak at the conference. Go Green on
p.18 has an interview with another speaker, Chase Mueller, of Brooks Sports. For more information about the conference or to register, visit

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