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Greening Your Supply Chain

ISM's 93rd Annual International Supply Management Conference

St. Louis, MO
May 2008


Mark Buckley, Vice President of Environmental Affairs at Staples, Inc.

Will today's low cost countries still be low cost tomorrow? As a supply management professional, how can you educate those in your organization about the current and future challenges? And when it comes to greening the supply chain...where does one start, anyway?

These were just some of the questions addressed by Mark Buckley, vice president of environmental affairs at Staples, Inc. in this afternoon session. He noted that when an organization has a sustainable supply chain, they enjoy better long-term business performance and the competitive advantage that comes along with being responsible and committed to complete supply chain visibility.

Not only is there the "triple bottom line" benefit to adding sustainable practices to your organization (the overlap between the financial, environmental and social benefits that create a win-win-win situation), but our country is in the position to take a leading position in the Western world in this regard. "The United States has so much potential," he said. "We need to look at opportunities to lead and not worry so much about risk."

Buckley suggested that to begin the efforts, look for projects with tangible benefits; in other words, start small, since small victories add up over time to create a cultural shift. Resources are also available to those just starting out, such as the EPA, and there are numerous corporate examples to look at in order to find ideas and inspiration. He mentioned Johnson & Johnson as well as his own company as some examples.

Session participants were handed sheets of loose-leaf paper at one point, and Buckley noted that the paper was made from sugar cane fibers that normally would be a waste by-product of manufacturing, but was now being used to make this paper. "This is an example of how we have made a lifecycle investment that actually reduces our carbon footprint," he said.

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