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Consumer Products Industry Ahead Of Retailers On Sustainability

Eighty-five percent of U.S. consumer business companies have active sustainability initiatives; most common are recycling and energy conservation programs, according to a study, Sustainability: Balancing Opportunity and Risk in the Consumer Products Industry, conducted by Deloitte Consulting for the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

While retailer requirements (specifically Wal-Mart) have been influential, they have not been the primary driver behind the sustainability movement; more than 60 percent of the companies surveyed said that internal priorities are the primary driver of these efforts, while regulatory compliance and Wal-Mart’s packaging initiative are the second most cited drivers.

In fact, the study found that consumer packaged goods companies are ahead of most retailers in implementing sustainability programs, driven by internal motivations such as cost reduction, regulatory risk mitigation, and concerns over potential shortages of commodity inputs. However, both retailers and CPG companies cited several barriers to comprehensive sustainability efforts, including regulatory uncertainty and unjustifiable returns on investment.

A Medill Reports’ study from earlier this year concluded that companies like Wal-Mart, FedEx, Home Depot and Office Depot are flexing their corporate environmental power, extending their green policies beyond their own operations to impact suppliers and consumers.

The final Deloitte report will be available on the GMA Website.

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