Manufacturing Savvy

Finding Our Footprint

While many manufacturers are moving toward good environmental stewardship, others have yet to put in place the technology necessary to manage their footprints.

A new study by IFS North America reported that almost half of manufacturers lacked the enterprise technology to manage their environmental footprint. And 28% had only limited capabilities.

Larger companies ($1 billion or more in revenue) are doing better in tracking their environmental impact in the areas of carbon footprint, solid waste, air and water pollution, product lifecycle and product end-of-life impacts. However only 36% of them are active participants, and only 20% of companies in the revenue range of $250 million to $999 million have measures in place.

This study echoes an another one, done by Crowe Horwath, which found that more than half of the manufacturers they talked to thought their measurements for sustainability efforts were lacking.

What's interesting is that the companies Crowe Howarth spoke to said that their companies link their environmental efforts to the company strategy, and 72% said their board of directors sees these policies as a top priority.

While insufficient resources, inconsistent or unclear definitions, and lack of a standard verification process, are cited as reasons for lack of measuring tools, over 70% of the companies surveyed are publicly issuing sustainability reports.

This disconnect could lead to charges of 'greenwashing' says Center for Business co-director Dan Heitger. "Reporting sustainability measures and issuing qualitative disclosures without a sufficient link to how these activities lead to long-term value creates a risk of efforts being perceived as 'greenwashing'," said Heitger.

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