Staying one step ahead of legislation
Last Friday saw the 11th meeting of the Corporate Sustainability Mastermind Group – the small group of sustainability managers from large organisations I facilitate. We were back at the site of the very first meeting, the Baltic Art Gallery in Gateshead with its fabulous views over the Tyne.
The topic was legislation and, in particular, what we can learn from wrestling with current legislation to anticipate the next wave. The Group focussed on three areas of legislation – Energy/Carbon, Supply Chain and Product Design. Here’s a selection of the 60+ ‘take home’ points arising:
- A compliance mindset means always playing catch up;
- Need an early warning system to identify and screen forthcoming legislation;
- Spending time to understand the true scope and depth of the requirements is a very worthwhile investment;
- Use legislation to stimulate innovation;
- Always assume legislation will tighten;
- Suppliers may say ‘no’ if they are not directly obligated;
- You can sometimes sell compliance to customers as added-value by de-risking their compliance;
- Energy/carbon biggest opportunity for automating data collection;
- Purchase plant, fleet and equipment on through life costing basis;
- Care needs to be taken with data – trends may be due to changing collection process;
- Energy management software needs to work for the business and not the other way around – take care with choice of vendor;
- Reinvest a % of savings to generate a snowball effect;
- Investment appraisal needs to be able to capture energy/carbon costs.
- Knowing what’s actually in your product is a real challenge, yet legislation makes it your responsibility;
- Further down the supply chain the harder it is to check, yet the bigger the risk to reputation;
- Categorise suppliers to identify risks: strategic/tactical, single/replaceable, and by geography;
- Giving priority to sustainable suppliers means unsustainable suppliers will lose market share ie you can transform the market with purchasing decisions;
- LCA heavily dependent on assumptions and must be used with care;
- Watch-list of chemicals/components is growing fast;
- Designing out problematic materials is the best solution – and can provide extra value to customers.
As always it was the discussion that got us to these conclusions which gave the most value. This discussion continued over lunch in the fabulous SIX rooftop restaurant – ‘no dreary buffets’ is one of the three rules of the Group!