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Systematic Sustainability Requires Coordination Across Biz Units

Shifting to a systematic, sustainable approach to doing business is challenging to put into practice because change within any organization is hard and the opportunities for making gains in sustainable practices require coordination across business units, said Kevin Hagen, REI’s manager of corporate social responsibility, in a recent CRO article.

“The challenge is to have the whole organization see the big picture,” Hagen says. For example, REI wants to reduce the amount of waste going to landfills to zero by 2020. To boost its level of recycling, REI could buy more expensive, recyclable packaging, and offset some of the costs through fewer waste-hauling fees.

A sourcing manager who buys packaging material for REI would need to understand the larger goal before voluntarily increasing costs for the company.

Earlier this year, REI released its first stewardship report, which provides a review of the co-op’s social and environmental priorities and efforts for 2006, and includes short and long-term plans for improvement.

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