‘Green to Gold’
Andrew Winston is co-author of the best-selling book “Green to Gold: How Smart Companies Use Environmental Strategy to Innovate, Create Value and Build Competitive Advantage.” In addition to running a consulting firm that works with leading companies, he serves as director of the Corporate Environmental Strategy Project at Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and a Fellow of the Center for Environment and Business at Yale. Book Business spoke with Winston about how changes in today’s corporate environmental consciousness are impacting business practices.
What has happened in the past few years to make “greening” one’s corporation a key imperative?
Winston: … A “green wave” is moving through the business community … in two parts. First, changes in the natural world—real resource constraints like water shortages and climate change. Second, rising pressure from stakeholders, but not just nonprofits or protestors. It’s now a dizzying array of people … including a company’s own employees, their customers and even the banks financing them. … The core reason it’s an imperative is that “green” business is better business—companies are slashing costs, driving new revenues, reducing risk and enhancing brand value. Companies must compete on these dimensions or fall behind.
How might these factors impact book publishers?
Winston: All of these pressures are forcing much more awareness of environmental impact up and down the “value chain.” … Publishers rely on a very resource-intensive process in paper. The energy in actual printing may be moderate, but upstream in the value chain, the impact is enormous. More stakeholders are shedding light on these connections.
What specific advice do you have for industries, like publishing, with complex supply chain structures?
Winston: The “greening” of the supply chain is one of the strongest forces in the “green wave.” Many consumer-facing businesses are pushing back, and the ripples are moving fast. Wal-Mart is asking suppliers to reduce packaging and fossil fuel use. In reaction, some big consumer-product companies are asking their suppliers similar questions. … Most industries are going to need to collect more information from their supply chain … just so they can answer their customers. … One hurdle smaller companies face is the lack of leverage on their supply chain. In that case, they often need to band together with others in the industry to set standards.