Supply constraints hamper green product adoption

Earlier this week, a major health care client of my firm asked for some help with an upcoming community event, during which they hoped to distribute eco-friendly shopping bags to the 1000 expected attendees.

This client had previously given away these bags – see image attached to this article. Made from non-woven polypropylene, they are produced with recycled materials and are 100% recyclable. We reached out to the manufacturer that had originally provided them and were told that they were currently out of stock and could not guarantee delivery by the early June event date.

We then called several other best-in-class providers of environmentally-friendly products and were told that they were “wiped out by Earth Day” and that they were “hoping” that their next overseas shipment would arrive by late May. With this unreliable information in hand, I was forced to call my client and explain that we would likely have to look at alternatives for the event.

One oft-cited reason for companies not implementing green initiatives, especially throughout their marketing activities, is the perception that they will drive costs up. In fact, my firm recently surveyed a subset of our clients who have indicated interest in being “greener” and a startling 94% of respondents said that their main hesitation toward “greening” their business practices, and specifically their marketing collateral, is cost. Our in-the-field work has demonstrated that this is a misperception and that there are creative ways to reduce an organization’s carbon footprint without adding much, if any, cost. There may even be ways to save money!

However, these supply issues, which I experienced first hand yesterday, and the inability of product providers to provide better information or hope that they can be solved, are certainly another reason why organizations are not adopting environmentally-friendly business practices more rapidly. The inefficient supply chains of green product providers are significantly hurting adoption rates, and leading companies to take the paths of least resistance and relying upon the tried and true – and often “ungreen” – practices of the past. This must change.

One major barrier to success from creatives is that they often come up with great ideas but fail to execute (to read more on this, please see the fascinating work that Behance has done). A similar issue is facing “green” product providers: when they advertise the potential benefits of their innovative products, but fail to provide them in a timely fashion, they are holding the movement back and giving major corporate buyers the excuse to go back to their ways of the past. My hope is that over the next several months and years, green product providers can work to solve these supply chain issues. I know the demand is there.


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