Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Going Green

This week marks the fortieth anniversary of Earth Day. Retail stores and food and beverage consumer packaged goods companies have adjusted throughout the years, doing their part to save the planet.

Take for example, Target. Just last week, the company announced that to kick off its month-long Earth Day celebration, all 1,740 stores will install community recycling stations where customers can salvage aluminum, glass and plastic beverage containers, plastic bags, MP3 players, cell phones, and ink cartridges. In 2007, the retailer introduced biodegradable plastic gift cards, and has worked vigorously during the past several years to ensure that stores and the products they sell are environmentally friendly. Measures include energy efficient LED lighting and an offering of organic and all-natural foods and products made from recycled materials and non-toxic chemicals.

Earlier this month, General Mills revealed its plans to replace its natural-gas boilers with a biomass steam boiler at its milling plant in Fridley, Minn., which manufactures oat flour for cereals including Cheerios and Lucky Charms. When the boiler goes into operation early next year, it will burn leftover oat hulls and reduce the plant's carbon footprint by 21 percent.

Other companies have also gone to great lengths to become more conscious of the world around us. SunChips, a product distributed by Frito-Lay, recently introduced compostable packaging designed to fully break down in just 14 weeks when placed in a hot, active compost bin or pile.

Many companies have ventured into ecologically responsible practices because they understand that it is the right thing to do. Additionally, though, they have strengthened their brands and saved money in the process while increasing profits and bolstering consumer loyalty.

Research shows that consumers consider sustainability when deciding where to shop and which products to purchase. Studies also prove that patrons are willing to pay more for goods that come from a socially responsible company.

This is especially good news for the retailers and food and beverage consumer packaged goods companies ranked among the top "100 Best Corporate Citizens" for 2010 by Corporate Responsibility Magazine. Among those on the list: General Mills (3), Coca-Cola (8), Campbell Soup Company (12), PepsiCo (13), and Wal-Mart (21). You can view the entire list as a PDF on the organization's Web site.

Industry publications like Supermarket News and Packaging World predicted that green efforts and sustainable packaging would be among the top trends in 2009 and 2010, and were indeed correct. As the industry learns more about the "green shopper," expect to see more initiatives regarding environmentally friendly practices.

What about you? Do you buy green products? Are you more likely to buy products from companies that are eco-friendly? Become part of the conversation by leaving me a message.

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