There’s been a lot of talk lately about the recent announcement by Walmart that they will begin to require their vendors to answer a number of questions regarding their environmental impact for the creation of Walmart’s new sustainability index. The index will cover a number of issues such as Carbon Footprint, Water & Energy Usage as well as types of packaging and materials used. One of the items that seems to be overlooked by those who are critical of this groundbreaking initiative is that Walmart’s President & CEO, Mike Duke is confident that this process will not only improve the quality of the products that they sell but that at the same time it will also reduce cost. We concur with Mr. Duke and based on the research we have conducted at NextLife, improved quality and cost reduction are just a natural byproduct of the LCA process.
Let’s examine this concept another way. When one takes a journey across the country or even across town, all the possible routes are looked at. You would analyze the time of day, distance of route, potential traffic and come up with the best possible roadmap to make the trip. The goal of course is to get to your destination in the safest, quickest, most efficient manner possible. The same can be said for business… any business. Even though most companies that sell products or services have somewhat of an idea as to whether or not they pollute the environment, many just don’t know how much if at all. The LCA process clearly identifies all areas of material extraction, production, transportation, product use, and disposal and clearly identifies all the operations and potential pitfalls of each process. The end result is a roadmap of sorts that can be analyzed over and over to weed out any extraneous processes that may have a negative environmental or financial impact to the final process. The LCA is not a “magic bullet”. There’s no software that can instantaneously improve your business which is why it is extremely important to make sure that the LCA is backed by a credible, and transparent scientific process.
Once the LCA is completed (about a 16 week process) and the “roadmap” is reviewed there are usually items that jump out at you that can be easily fixed with minimal impact to your business. These “low hanging fruit” are just some of the positive outcomes that can be implemented upon review of the life-cycle analysis process. As we have found many times in our experiences, 80% of the impact resides in just 20% of change. If you make small changes to your processes, you will find that you can have very positive environmental and economic impact which will benefit your company, your customers and your planet. That’s what Mr. Duke of Walmart is betting on, and we believe that’s what the outcome will be as a result of these changes.
If you would like to understand how an LCA can have a positive financial impact on your business, give NextLife a call and we can help guide you through the “jungle”.