The World Resources Institute (WRI) is stepping up its work on greening the supply chains of companies both big and small, thanks to a grant from Walmart.
“Sustainability is becoming a driver of business strategy for smart companies. Sustainability trends affect competitiveness, costs, regulatory risk, and market position,” said WRI president Jonathan Lash. “The companies that reduce emissions along their supply chains will capture new markets with their green offerings while preserving the environment and improving worker health and safety.”
WRI’s Green Supply Chain Initiative will develop and deploy a new set of accounting tools to measure the greenhouse gas (GHG) impacts of a company’s supply chain and of the products that are sold to customers. The project also involves creating a web tool that will bring clarity to the various environmental certifications given to products.
“Measuring greenhouse gas emissions is the first step to managing them,” said Rand Waddoups, senior director of sustainability for Walmart. “We think WRI can play an invaluable role in helping others understand the environmental and business benefit of collecting emissions information across the entire supply chain.”
“The initiative opens up tremendous access and opportunity for companies and other stakeholders to participate in the drafting and piloting of the new product and supply chain accounting tools, which are based on the success of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Standard” said Pankaj Bhatia director of GHG Protocol Initiative at WRI. The GHG Protocol is an international accounting standard used by businesses to identify, calculate and report their own emissions. It was developed by the WRI and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) in 1998.
Bhatia added, “These new standards will provide a framework that companies can use to evaluate a supplier’s performance, identify where emissions could be reduced along the supply chain or product life cycle and track the progress of GHG-reduction investments.”
Support from Walmart will also go toward developing a “Green Standards Guide” to help companies navigate through the “green” claims of different environmental certifications or labels. The guide is designed to provide greater transparency into the eco-label market place. It will help companies decide which eco-labels their organizations will recognize through a standard set of eco-label evaluation criteria.
The different and inconsistent criteria for eco-label standards have resulted in a vague and confusing concept of “green.” For supply chain managers looking to avert environmental risk, using environmental certifications has become increasingly complex and burdensome for themselves and their suppliers.
WRI’s expert on green supply chains Jeff Rodgers said, “We hope our work can help companies assess certification options for their products in ways that improve the environmental impact and lessen the burdens on businesses by identifying and helping compare the many different standards that currently exist.”
The grant also enables WRI to improve the environmental performance of suppliers in China by working with the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environment Affairs (IPE). The partnership will allow WRI to develop best-practice case studies for Chinese firms. These case studies, which can be used as training materials for industry, will highlight the practical and effective solutions adopted by China-based suppliers in resolving common environmental challenges such as water and air pollution.
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