Sustainable Brands ’14 Conference: Our Take-Away

Jun 16, 2014 5:15 PM ET


Back in our lakeside Vermont office, we are reflecting on a few key takeaways from the Sustainable Brands ’14 Conference last week in San Diego.

One workshop struck us as particularly inspiring because it aligns with what we are increasingly hearing from our clients. The discussion,Testing the Limits: Accomplishments and Frontiers in Influencing Suppliers,” explored supply chain sustainability programs. We heard Tim Brook, the Senior Director of Environmental Sustainability at LEGO, talk about its significant upstream footprint and how the toy maker emphasizes open and honest collaboration with suppliers to meet sustainability goals.

Carolyn Duran from Intel, where they are striving to eliminate conflict minerals from their supply chain, reflected on the enormity of the task of sustainability, noting that the sum of many companies doing their part results in our shared ability to solve bigger challenges.

Supply chain sustainability delivers a multitude of benefits, often beginning with a stronger, more resilient source of raw materials. Through our work, some of this resiliency comes from contributing to the health and productivity of labor by providing access to clean drinking water. We are customizing projects with a number of clients to install bio-sand water filters in supply communities around the world. In another example, Ben & Jerry’s has invested in improving operational economics and cow health on a dairy farm to help secure consistent high quality milk for their ice cream products. We have worked with the farm and Ben & Jerry’s to ensure this project is replicable throughout their supply chain.

While they have partnered with us to reduce their direct emissions through many small scale wind projects, Clif Bar is using the power of their growing brand to influence suppliers to increase the use of renewable energy, earning recognition from the White House. By increasing renewable energy use in their supply chain, Clif Bar is increasing global demand for renewable energy and they have created an opening for a deeper conversation about sustainability with their suppliers. 

It is always good to reconnect with friends and colleagues at the Sustainable Brands conferences; even more it’s great to witness the momentum being built for business-value driven supply chain sustainability.

You can catch up on more highlights of the Sustainable Brands ’14 conference here.