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Management’s Green Footprint

One might describe corporate sustainability management as a combination of government environmental legislation and “corporate grass roots” movements.

Individual corporations and entire industries have seized on efforts usually seen as individuals' choices and have adopted these choices to the corporate domain. With incentives from customers and from legislative programs, corporate sustainability management has expanded into quality management practices and defines what good corporate citizenry means today.

For example, the global electronics supply chain follows both internal corporate sustainability management goals and external directives such as Basel Action Network's e-Stewards Initiative, EU's WEEE, and RoHS, among others.

There are many decisions, both company internal and external, that influence the growth of sustainability programs. Corporate practices range from the physical changes (building architecture, energy efficiency, water conservation, etc.) to more process-oriented programs (office recycling, environmentally-focused services, zero-landfill goals for e-waste, green packaging, etc.).

The endpoint is a significant greening of the supply chain benefiting everyone.

Manufacturing and corporate sustainability practices
Electronics companies are responding to consumer demands to reduce the industry's footprint while following their own e-stewardship goals. Among the corporate practices are setting goals for reduced carbon footprints, ever-lower energy consumption, and effective e-waste recycling. Corporate sustainability practices involve synchronizing stewardship with traditional business goals to realize cost reductions; aligning with national and international regulations; and delivering innovative solutions for responsible material use, manufacturing, and resource management.

For those who manufacture or engineer products, the expectations are heavily weighted toward innovative technologies. OEMs seek to balance the demand for more environmentally friendly materials and process with energy conservation and products with a greener footprint. Customers, who are setting their own goals for e-stewardship, are demanding such devices.

In turn, manufacturers increasingly expect their suppliers to be environmentally aware and good stewards themselves. As suppliers, sustainability practices and efforts are, obviously, removed from the manufacturing domain, the focus is then switched to what companies at these supply chain points can do to improve their corporate sustainability efforts.

Electronics manufacturers and suppliers are amending their personal and professional guiding principles to include environmental stewardship. Making a shift toward corporate sustainability is not an overnight transition, but the importance of green business solutions continues to grow. Indifference surrounding the environmental impact of the electronics industry could eventually lead to missed opportunities in a greening corporate world.

As the corporate “greenovation” continues, like-minded green business partners will increasingly align with each other, leaving the other players to reevaluate the value of a greener electronics supply chain.

13 comments on “Management’s Green Footprint

  1. prabhakar_deosthali
    November 23, 2012

    “Greennovation”  -that is a good newly coined term which will become the buzzword of tomorrow when more and more companies will focus on envirnment friendly production, or corporate facilities.

  2. syedzunair
    November 23, 2012

    @prabhakar_deosthali:

    Apart from being a buzzword it has some serious implications. Companies are trying to become more socially and ethically active these days. Hence, they are focusing on Green. 

  3. FLYINGSCOT
    November 23, 2012

    Companies need to harness the power of the employees by educating everyon ein green awareness.  if everyone is following the same stroke then bigger improvements will be possible.

  4. Daniel
    November 26, 2012

    Figueroa, there is no doubt that companies has to move towards more ecco friendly operation and to save our natural resources. Now a day's based on such operations, there are some agencies, which will rate the company like, Diamond, Platinum, Gold etc.

  5. Art Figueroa
    November 27, 2012

    @FLYINGSCOT: Employee buy-in is extremely valuable when changing corporate values surrounding the environment. Smith's greenovation was driven by an internal committee called the Smith Sustainability Group (SSG). The committee's objective was to educate employees and build awareness surrounding Smith's environmental goals and then encourage employees to take action. This group helped Smith identify and implement environmentally efficient and sustainable innovations that have ultimately transformed Smith's internal culture.

  6. Art Figueroa
    November 27, 2012

    @Jacob: As more and more companies within the electronics industry seek partners with similar green values, the importance of organizations who rate and validate these key partners will, in turn, become increasingly valuable. As an e-Steward, Smith & Associates agrees to always make best efforts to work with e-Stewards Recyclers, ensuring that we don't contribute to the global toxic waste crisis. E-Stewards Recyclers undergo a professional audit every year to guarantee they do not export hazardous recycling byproducts to developing countries, use U.S. prison labor, or dump in municipal landfills. E-Stewards Recyclers also ensure that private data is kept secure, and that their operations protect both workers and the environment.

  7. Art Figueroa
    November 27, 2012

    @Rich Krajewski: Small steps toward environmental change can have a big impact. The first step is awareness and making the environment a priority. Our movement started with a goal to be an energy-neutral, zero-waste company. Although we have not yet reached our goal, incremental progress is our path forward and feels like a win for Smith and for the environment. Technology is always evolving with newer, faster products constantly being introduced into the market, but there are steps we can take in addition to recycling to handle technological growth and advancement in an environmentally responsible manner. For example, Smith offers services to our customers for IT Asset Disposition (ITAD) that take important steps to avert EOL product from being sent to landfills or falling into the hands of counterfeiters. Practices like these, in combination with recycling and waste diversion efforts (such as e-Stewards Recyclers), are gaining the momentum needed to change the way our industry thinks about EOL product and disposal.

  8. bolaji ojo
    November 27, 2012

    I suggest baby steps. Like convincing folks, including engineers and other well educated folks that man is leaving negative imprints on the environment or that global warming exists!

  9. bolaji ojo
    November 27, 2012

    Art, The people who are very likely to doubt the importance or embrace efforts to limit the impact of our discarded products on the environment include engineers and other professionals. A company cannot mandate that people believe in global warming, for instance, or force them to recycle if they don't see value in it. How do you get employees to embrace this without sounding like a tyrannical boss?

  10. bolaji ojo
    November 28, 2012

    Then we're back in the climate of men-behaving-badly-because-they-can, aren't we? I grew up in a place like that and the mayhem that's resulted from everyone looking out only for themselves is crippling. I left. I don't believe we've reached that level here but isn't that also why we are better than those who would either live a lawless life or flout the law wconvinced there are no repercussions?

  11. Art Figueroa
    November 28, 2012

    @Bolaji Ojo: At Smith, we recognize that there is tremendous interest and innovative ideas from our employees, and that is how our  self-directed Smith Sustainability Group (SSG) came into existence. As you rightly point out, corporate sustainability is not a top-down event, it is best formulated, engaged, and successful when it involves the entire organization – from ideas to planning to meeting goals. As such, SSG is tasked with setting Smith's environmental goals (rather than having these goals imposed from above), building green education and awareness for employees, and implementing programs that encourage employees to take sustainable action. As part of this, SSG developed Smith's Green Bag Lunch Series, available to Smith employees, which launched in October 2012. The most recent speaker was Houston Sustainability Manager, Lisa Lin, who spoke on various sustainability issues and green events in Houston.

  12. itguyphil
    November 28, 2012

    Rich,

    Greed is always the enemy. When we humans can learn the art of humility, then we can get to the point where people are beneath profits.

  13. Daniel
    December 4, 2012

    Art, again recycled usage of components and devices are very unhealthy especially when it handled by public. I personally feel that “Green movements” won’t limit to recycling the wastage or products. It can extend the visibility to other areas like using as much of natural lighting sources and power generations, minimizing the usage of paper, creating more ecco friendly working atmosphere etc.

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