Sustainability - we hear a lot about, and I've been blogging quite a bit about it lately. Okay, we get it, sustainble practices are environmentally and economically beneficial - but doesn't becoming more sustainable mean a long, complicated, expensive program involving a lot of changes to my facility and company? Not necessarily.
Here are five sustainable steps you can take right now, before the end of this week, that will start you down the path towards a more sustainable plant or company. Not sure where to start? Take these steps, and you're on your way.
Develop a corporate sustainability policy. There's plenty of examples out there - my advice is to take a look at what others are doing in your industry, and go from there. Don't plagiarize them, but don't think you need to invent the wheel either.
Create a sustainability team. For now, that might be you, and hopefully one or two others. Have a brief meeting, and start some discussion. Admitting you know little about sustainability as a group is a good starting point, since you can learn together. Make a brief action plan, and assign some duties (could be "search the internet and find out what this sustainability thing is all about"), then schedule another meeting. Consider looking into sustainability training.
Write down your key resource usage areas, and make a plan to look into them to see how you might reduce use. This should certainly include energy use (including electrical use, fuel use, engine efficiency, etc.) and water use to start, but you might also include air emissions, recycling activities, etc. Creating a benchmark for future performance is a great first step to take!
Put together a list of your vendors, and make plans to inquire about their sustainability programs. Your actions include your vendors actions as well. Hopefully you are buying from those who conduct their operations in a sustainable manner as well. Taking control of your vendors through supply chain management will allow you to discover how environmentally beneficial or detrimental your product is. This would be a great task for a sustainability team member.
Review your environmental regulatory compliance level. Compliance is not often mentioned as part of overall sustainability, and they're not the same or are they?). But receiving an environmental violation will do a lot to damage any claims you make about being green, so why not make sure you're not missing anything or falling short somewhere?
These simple steps towards sustainability, which you can do in a relatively short period of time, will begin to build a great foundation for your future sustainability program. From here, you can begin to build your program, and even branch out into other areas such as social responsibility and economic considerations. But for now, why not just start with these 5 simple steps?