Other summit speakers drilled down into how their companies deal with creating and selling their own sustainability programs, both internally and externally.
“It's not really about winning just for your company,” Chastity McLeod, Nestle's vice president of sustainability in North America, told the audience. “If you want to do the right thing for the planet, you cannot do it without working with others to scale and drive initiatives forward.”
McLeod said that it is becoming apparent that any company, regardless of the sector, will have to absorb some of the initial costs around sustainable innovation in order to scale up those technologies and drive product costs down.
Often, she said, that means competitors need to work together.
“We have to collaborate. We have to get this right. It's bigger than our company. It's bigger than our competition with each other,” McLeod said.
Another panelist, Walter Ripple, Avient Corp.’s vice president of sustainability, said that with four business units, more than 100 plants and lots of sub-business units, he found that the company’s sustainability efforts were going unnoticed and underappreciated.
The specialty polymer manufacturer, headquartered in Avon Lake, was making strides in launching sustainable products as part of the larger supply chain, but the message was getting lost.
“It was a real mess for our employees who knew all these great things you're doing around sustainability,” Ripple said about efforts to get buy-in from such a large and diverse company.
"The other thing is that we weren't sharing best practices throughout the organization,” he said.
Avient in 2019 established a sustainability council populated with leaders from all of the company’s business units from different departments and regions, he explained.
“It created not only communication but full engagement throughout the organization, all the way to our executive team and across all our functions. It really helped to accelerate all of our efforts around sustainability,” Ripple said.