In a previous post, we looked at the work done by Ram Nidumolu and M.R. Rangaswami in which they stated that there is no alternative to sustainable development. And they identified the five stage process on the road to sustainability. This post discusses Stage 2.
In this stage, the company has moved toward making value chains sustainable. The central challenge here, of course is to increase efficiencies throughout the whole value chain. This implies reducing the consumption of nonrenewable resources such as coal, petroleum and natural gas along with renewable resources such as water and timber.
The competencies needed include:
- Expertise in techniques such as carbon management and life-cycle assessment
- The ability to redesign operations to use less energy and water, produce fewer emissions, and generate less waste
- The capcity to ensure that suppliers and retailers make their operations eco-friendly
As you can imagine, this stage of growth in the sustainability process provides ample innovation opportunities:
- Developing sustainable sources of raw materials and components
- Increasing the use of clean energy sources such as wind and solar (and increasingly looking at nuclear power)
- Finding innovative uses for returned products
We see that the concept of moving your value chain to compliance can in fact be done – although now it seems to be around economic issues. Still, the whole economy benefits when new low cost suppliers are developed and the same is likely to be true of low cost, low impact sustainability partners. Where are you in the process? Is your company moving toward a sustainable value chain?