Science and technology have had a long and fruitful relationship with business. In many cases, companies can leverage the efficiencies and innovations that new discoveries and digital tools make possible in an effort to boost operational excellence and reduce costs. These advancements continue to the present day. Consider, for example, the impacts that robotics technologies are having on the manufacturing process, and the dramatic improvements in enterprise agility that cloud computing has brought to the corporate landscape.
As the connections between eco-friendliness and spend management become increasingly more apparent, companies are finding that cutting-edge technologies can help them bolster their efforts to make procurement, sourcing and manufacturing more sustainable.
New partnership emphasizes green chemistry
In a column for GreenBiz, sustainability experts Monica Becker and Amy Perlmutter discussed the movement toward environmentally sound chemistry among firms in the consumer product market. A set of 10 companies, all of which belong to the Green Chemistry and Commerce Council, recently agreed upon a one-year partnership with the goal of making sustainable chemistry a more widespread, mainstream business practice. The group includes such industry giants as sustainable cleaning products firm Seventh Generation, footwear manufacturer Timberland and paint producer Valspar.
Becker and Perlmutter noted that while the collaboration comes at a time when awareness of the need to reduce environmentally harmful chemicals in the distribution supply chain is increasing, adopting sustainable chemistry also stands to offer companies real operational benefits.
"Green chemistry provides industries with incredible opportunity for growth and competitive advantage, as there is a shortage of safer chemicals that are economically and technically viable. When hazardous substances are removed from materials, processes and products, new markets can be created while costs associated with hazardous material handling, transportation, disposal and compliance are removed," Becker and Perlmutter wrote.
Intel rolls out ethically sourced microprocessors
The comments of these two sustainability consultants highlight just how erroneous it is to diametrically oppose green technologies on one hand and business cost reduction on the other. This is especially true in light of how many customers may be forced to look elsewhere by firms that ignore sustainability.
These principles have begun to impact the consumer electronics market as well. According to Business Green, Intel revealed its new ethically sourced, conflict-free microprocessors at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The company has ensured that the silicon and packages for the new processing chips contain minerals that have been sourced from areas outside the world's conflict zones.
With the new initiative, Intel may find itself in a better position that its competitors to win the loyalties of consumers.