While there are certainly risks associated with disclosure, the benefits strongly outweigh any anticipated concerns. Start small with a limited group, possibly only including a supplier and a customer.
The group can be expanded later as issues are defined and the attendees become familiar with the process and expected results. Customers will eventually need to be engaged in a manner different from their usual communications with sales.
Renewable energy markets continue to undergo dramatic change. And while fossil fuels will continue to power the world for decades, a shift to renewables offers price stability, local sourcing, long-term viability and reduced exposure to a variety of issues that make conventional energy sources problematic.
Organizations that blend their energy sources and create some redundancies ensure continued energy supply at the lowest price. Organizations beginning to investigate renewable energy often purchase renewable energy credits (RECs) as a first step, particularly when their financial position makes this the most attractive option.
Given the cost of energy and potential savings available, most organizations should be keenly aware of their energy portfolio. If not, a comprehensive audit with recommendations for conservation should be conducted.
Smart building systems, which may be recommended during the audit, are becoming increasingly commonplace. The complexity and cost of these systems can be daunting. However, the industry is maturing rapidly and their implementation is likely to have an immediate impact on an organization's energy costs and environmental footprint.
Because energy conservation measures can immediately reduce an organization's energy use and costs, conservation should always be the first priority in an energy program. The best returns on investment come from source reduction, although payback periods will vary depending on the scope of the measures implemented.
For example, wall stickers placed near light switches have been shown to have a payback period from one to four weeks. An example of a measure with a longer payback is lighting. Using more efficient LED lighting will save money over the long run, but the payback period may be a couple of years versus a less expensive measure.
Supply chain impacts can be a substantial part of an organization's environmental footprint given the vast distances products often travel from their source to market. Labor, production, waste disposal and distribution have considerable financial and environmental ramifications.
Labor laws differ from country to country. While many products are marketed by companies that have no presence in the country where it is manufactured, any negative labor issues will reflect poorly on the company. Recent issues have involved working hours, worker age and unsafe working conditions. When issues arise, they typically disrupt product flow. More serious issues can completely halt the supply chain.
Life cycle analysis (LCA) is a unique look into the design, manufacture, distribution, use, and end-of-life phases of a product or service. Evaluation, often conducted by third-party vendors, can unearth a variety of opportunities to reduce materials, streamline processes and seek innovative ways to engage, attain, and retain customers.
Packaging ends up in the waste stream, and its value is usually substantially less than the product it contains. In addition to evaluating the recyclability and biodegradability of packaging materials, organizations should explore cost-effective ways to reduce packaging, which can also reduce shipping costs. Some companies can provide multiple products in a single container such as an egg crate. Some packaging materials can also be reused to ship end-of-life products to recycling centers, or to reship new products.
Most likely your hard-to-recycle are currently being sent to the landfill. New companies are emerging that specialize in recycling or reusing items that previously were unrecyclable. A quick search for local companies should yield at least one or two candidates.
Another solution, especially for furniture or other reusable items, is through donation to organizations that can repair or resell the items.
A final option is to contact the manufacturer. States and other regulatory bodies are looking closely at products that don't have a sustainable end-of-life path. In anticipation of future regulations, some companies are controlling their recycling environment by accepting products back from customers.