Sustainability

The Power of Collaboration for Supply Chain Sustainability

By  Betty Cremmins, CDP June 12, 2014

Stock Solar Panels

Did you know that The Campbell Soup Company has installed a 60 acre, 10-megawatt (MW) solar panel project to run the largest soup plant in the world? The system comprises more than 24,000 solar panels mounted on mechanisms that track the sun each day from east to west and efficiently positions each panel at the optimum angle for maximum electricity generation. Since 2011, these panels have been producing about 15% of the total electricity for the company’s Napoleon, Ohio, manufacturing facility.

Campbell’s solar panel project is part of a much larger trend currently seen in companies of all shapes, sizes, and sectors. Companies are increasingly realizing that energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions management is good for business— and it doesn’t stop with products. Most of the biggest changes that companies can make are behind the scenes, from installing motion sensors on light fixtures to changing out boilers to retrofitting truck fleets. Although you can’t see the solar power in your favorite can of soup, Campbell’s commitments to sustainability benefit the triple bottom line – people, planet, profit – and mean better products for everyone.

Working with Campbell’s on sustainability initiatives helps achieve Walmart’s goal “to sell products that sustain people and the environment.” Currently, Walmart is collaborating with suppliers to collectively reduce 20 million metric tons of GHG from its supply chain by the end of 2015. To accomplish this, Walmart has partnered with CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project), an international, non-profit organization that provides the only global system for companies to manage and share vital environmental information. CDP works with market forces, including 767 institutional investors with assets of $92 trillion, to motivate companies to disclose their impacts on the environment and natural resources and take action to reduce them by putting these insights at the heart of strategic business, investment and policy decisions.

As a leading member of CDP’s supply chain program, Walmart is learning how its suppliers are achieving real emissions reductions— and in doing so, driving thousands of companies to realize significant GHG emissions and bottom-line savings. Through CDP’s standardized disclosure platform, suppliers are accounting for their carbon footprint, setting strategies for climate resiliency, and reporting detailed energy efficiency improvements from the operational level down to the product level. Collaborative action works: CDP’s Global Supply Chain Report 2014, Collaborative Action on Climate Risk shows that companies that engage with two or more vendors, customers or other partners through CDP are more than twice as likely to both actively reduce GHG emissions and realize a financial return from their emissions reduction investments.

Campbell’s reports to CDP that “Walmart has challenged Campbell to be better stewards of carbon reduction.” Clothing maker HanesBrands agrees, stating that “executive level awareness and support for sustainability along with customer commitment, including the leadership of Walmart, are promoting continual improvements in cost reduction and initiatives leading to GHG reductions.” Even companies you might not have heard of are making real commitments to reduce their energy costs and associated GHG emissions. Utah-based Olson’s Greenhouse Gardens, which supplies poinsettias and other plants for Walmart’s garden centers, reports that "Walmart has driven our efforts to become sustainable and has made us aware of many areas where we can make a difference.  Walmart's interests in reducing their own carbon footprint have pushed our company to consider all initiatives in order to be a more responsible supplier."

Walmart’s leadership is also helping to pilot CDP’s new Action Exchange program. Participating suppliers are encouraged to invest in energy efficiency technologies by helping them identify the most cost-efficient solutions, thereby saving money for themselves, Walmart, and customers around the world. The challenge is enormous, but as Walmart explains in the CDP Global Supply Chain Report Launch 2014 video, “Addressing our carbon footprint is no small feat, but with aggressive targets to reduce emissions, the hard work and creativity of our great associates, and the infrastructure provided by CDP, it’s not an impossible one.”

Read more from Betty Cremmins

2 Comments

ricky broadAUGUST 4, 2014 3:53 AM

This is really nice and informative post you have shared on Sustainable Supply Chain. Thanks for sharing.

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Scott LunsfordJULY 2, 2014 2:03 PM

wow. walmart.com has come a long way since the early days.

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