Canadian Manufacturing

Sustainability drivers and drags

Survey pegs environment trends at Canadian industrial firms

TORONTO: Over the years, sustainability has evolved from a fringe issue to a major competitive advantage for early adopters. But a recent Canadian survey shows the drivers and challenges around sustainability are varied.

The 2010 survey of 262 managers and executives, primarily from Canada’s manufacturing sector, was conducted by motum b2b, Innovative Research Group Inc. and Rogers Publishing Ltd.

The survey found 87% of industrial firms have implemented some form of a sustainability initiative over the past two years, focused on the following categories:

• Waste management: 51%
• Green IT: 46%
• Energy efficiency in operations: 41%
• Water management: 34%
• Air emissions management: 28%
• Clean or alternative energy: 18%
• Sustainable supply chain: 18%
• Green buildings: 13%

Looking ahead, the priorities will shift for the remainder of the year and 2011, with green buildings jumping to 29%. Clean or alternative energy will rise up the list too, with 28% of respondents citing it for future plans.

Major drivers

When asked what’s driving their investments, 77% of respondents said cost savings/efficiencies. Sitting in distant second was competitive positioning (39%), followed by regulatory compliance (34%), employee morale/ retention (32%), government and utility financial incentive programs (28%).

Are these drivers being translated into procurement policies? According to the results, more than half of respondents (53%) said environmental performance is a significant factor in what their company buys.
Respondents are also asking suppliers to get on board, with 58% of respondents saying it’s important vendors have environmental sustainability practices.

Barriers to green

In terms of obstacles to investing in green, the following hurdles were identified:

• Lack of capital budget or financing: 49%
• Unacceptable payback periods: 33%
• Don’t have a green technology investment strategy: 27%
• Don’t have purchasing policies that allow for evaluating the unique benefits of green: 22%
• Don’t know what technologies to look for: 13%
• Technology/ risk unproven: 10%

As those challenges are met, business leaders are also tasked with communicating their green efforts both inside and outside the company.

According to the survey, 62% of respondents said they don’t report sustainability metrics to investors or are unaware of their reporting practices; even though 50% of them keep track of value creation from these investments.

Results of the survey were presented by motum b2b at Rogers Publishing Ltd.’s first annual Carbon Economy Summit in September.

To view the presentation and survey results PDF, click here.

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