The First Five Steps: Elevating Your Sustainability CredentialsSeptember 27th, 2023 by Editor
A Sustainability Starter Kit for Vinyl Manufacturers
Organizations are under constant pressure to produce eco-friendly products and integrate sustainability into their day-to-day business operations. The escalating mandates have had an impact. In fact, a recent study by Forbes shows 90 percent of executives believe that sustainability is important. At the same time, only 60% of organizations have sustainability strategies. Does your organization have a sustainability plan in place? If so, how have you defined goals and objectives?
It is not uncommon for vinyl manufacturers to look at becoming a sustainable enterprise as a daunting task. Where do you start?
Consider these five steps when launching a sustainability initiative:
- Situational Analysis: Look at what is driving the interest in sustainability internally and why your company is on – or is contemplating – a sustainability journey. Are you just beginning? What initiatives have you already undertaken? Do you have C-suite support? What is driving this push? Sustainability requires participation from all corners of the company, and that support must begin from the top down. How is achieving sustainability as an organization tied to your success or how your brand is perceived? Answering these questions will help gauge the level of commitment and buy-in that will be crucial to achieving ultimate success.
- Materiality Assessment: Now comes time to set priorities. What is material to the company internally and with stakeholders, community members, regulators, and customers? What is the most important area for the enterprise to focus on from a sustainability perspective?In this step, identify your organization’s most material issues and solidify areas of focus that should be measured. This assessment may zero in on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, water scarcity, energy conservation, more sustainable products, or a host of other priorities. While you may identify several potential areas of opportunity, focusing on a few key areas is critical for efficiency.
- Strategy Development: With a firm grasp of where you are in your sustainability journey and what your priorities should be, it is now time to develop a go-forward strategy. Start asking critical questions: What goals are you trying to achieve? What tactics will help you realize those goals? How are those tactics measurable? For manufacturing companies, if using renewable or low-carbon energy sources for manufacturing initiatives is a goal, what tactics will you put into place to achieve that objective? How will those tactics lead to measurable results?
- Plan Development: Now that you know what you’re trying to achieve, how do you piece it all together? What resources do you need to make it happen? What is the budget available to accomplish your objectives? What does the timeline look like for meeting or exceeding certain key benchmarks? The more investment your company makes into incorporating sustainability into your business processes, the greater the success of your overall sustainability initiative in the long run.
- Measuring & Benchmarking: As with all initiatives, metrics are essential. If you don’t measure, it doesn’t get managed properly. For instance, if you are looking at greenhouse gas emissions, start by finding out what your emissions are today. If you set a long-term goal, identify benchmarks you seek to achieve along the way so you can monitor your progress. Communicate to your internal team and stakeholders so everyone is aware of the progress and what is needed to reach the next step.
Leveling Up: It’s About Verification
Even a well-executed sustainability plan will have its detractors. How can you separate your company from competitors who claim to be sustainable but are really participating in the all-too-common practice of “greenwashing?”
One surefire way to distinguish your enterprise from others is to offer transparency through third-party verification.
+Vantage Vinyl® from the Vinyl Sustainability Council (VSC) validates claims made by individual companies, which helps to remove some of the complexity behind sustainability. A voluntary initiative to advance the U.S. vinyl industry’s contribution to sustainable development, +Vantage Vinyl aims to drive continuous improvement across all three sectors of sustainability – environmental, social, and economic performance. As the world’s first and only sustainability program to address an industry’s entire supply chain, participation in +Vantage Vinyl is open to any company in the vinyl value chain that operates in the U.S. or Canada.
The result: Greater credibility for your efforts, and a bold step forward for your company’s journey toward greater sustainability.
Interested in taking the first step? Get started today.