Helping the environment and bottom line through sustainability

Panelists discuss eco-friendly business practices during Staples Advantage symposium

November 29, 2010
by Purchasing b2b staff

Toronto: Corporate efforts to go green are not only good for the environment but also good for business, according to Scotiabank’s vice-president of corporate social responsibility, Kaz Flinn.

Flinn was speaking at Staples Advantage’s sustainability symposium, held November 25 in Toronto.

“There are lots of business opportunities and there’s lots of internal opportunities when you look at your employees and what you can make available to your customers,” Flinn told the roughly 80 people who attended the event. “Saving money is a big thing—it’s OK for companies to admit that they’re doing something because they want to be environmentally friendly and at the same time reap the benefits. I don’t think anybody would give a company a hard time for admitting both.”

Joining Flinn for the panel discussion were: Domtar’s business development manager, corporate markets, Andrew Tremblay; Tree Canada president Michael Rosen; and program manager of the green procurement initiative of Greening Greater Toronto, Daniel Ludwin.

Rosen noted more and more companies are embracing environmental initiatives. Saving money remained the most important factor when developing a business case for going green, he said.

“The second reason is for the CSR (corporate social responsibility) strategy,” he added. “The third reason is how it hits your employees, your customers—as many of those reasons as you can rack up, that’s how it makes (business) sense.”

Transparency is more important than ever, Rosen said, since consumers have become skeptical of initiatives companies paint with a green brush. Organizations should consider third-party verification of their environmental efforts, he said.

Tremblay said Domtar had partnered with environmental groups, such as WWF-Canada, to work towards sustainability in producing its paper products. The company was working to educate people about its sustainability efforts, he noted.

“We really mean to tell people that paper is not a bad thing,” Tremblay said. “Paper is the original wireless way to communicate.”

Staples Advantage has also beefed up its eco-friendly efforts, said president of Staples Advantage Canada, Michael Zahra. The company now offers 1,400 environmentally friendly office products and has improved its online ordering system to reduce the number of catalogs it prints.

“Through all of this we’ve realized that not only are we bettering the environment, but we’re bettering our bottom line,” he said.