AWESOME LIGHTNING Round focuses on sustainability

October 21, 20212 minute read

At the recent LIGHTNING Round, AWESOME leaders talked about steps their companies are taking – and, in some cases, planning to take – to improve sustainability. Which steps are feasible and have the potential to have the greatest impact vary by industry and type of business. 

Retailers and hospitality, for example, are looking closely at packaging – focusing on how to reuse containers, switch to more recyclable materials, and, in some cases, eliminate the outer packaging for products that already come in their own box. As one participant said, “We’re looking at all the little things that add up to the big things.” 

AWESOME CEO Michelle Dilley opened the event by noting how closely connected sustainability and the supply chain are – as supply chain processes and the distributed products have a major impact on a company’s environmental footprint. Katrina Gouldon, a manager at Deloitte – AWESOME’s partner in LIGHTNING Rounds – led the conversation. 

One leader talked about the disposition of unsold or expired products, noting that the brands her company carries often have rules of their own as to what can be done with those products. Managing these unique requirements makes it all the more difficult to dispose of products sustainably and avoid simply throwing them away.

The conversation also focused on product transparency, and participants agreed that consumer interest is very high in knowing what ingredients go into products they buy. That means companies are looking further back into their supply chain and asking for more visibility from their suppliers. Some are also working with suppliers to understand their environmental goals, and in some cases, asking suppliers to be certified or to provide accountability as to how they’re progressing toward their goals. 

Another area where some of the companies represented at the LIGHTNING Round are advancing toward goals is in making their facilities more efficient – and several participants said a growing number of their buildings are LEED-certified.  

Undoubtedly the most hot-button discussion topic was Emissions Reduction plans and, in particular, how to reduce Scope 3 emissions, which are defined as indirect emissions created within an organization’s supply chain. Many of the leaders mentioned that getting accurate, reliable data to inform their scoring is proving to be difficult. Participants compared notes on database services that help make that analysis.  

AWESOME LIGHTNING Rounds are informal virtual meetings where leaders representing a cross-section of industries exchange ideas, ask questions, and brainstorm possible next steps.
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