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.