Companies Respond to Consumer Demands on Environment
July 1st, 2010
Activist campaigns targeting corporations have been surprisingly successful in changing corporate behavior and “greening” supply chains, particularly with regard to timber and beef products. For continued success though, consumers need to signal a clear preference for sustainably produced goods.
A Yale Environment 360 article details one campaign’s success:
“In the Amazon, Greenpeace released… [a] report last June linking deforestation by cattle ranchers in the Amazon to major consumer products, including Gucci handbags and Nike shoes. The fallout was immediate: Brazil’s cattle industry — the largest in the world and a dominant force in Brazilian politics — was brought to a standstill virtually overnight. Brazilian officials raided the offices of the country’s cattle giants and suspended or revoked some of their loans. Several of the cattle companies’ biggest buyers publicly rebuked the firms and demanded greater accountability for their supply chains.”
“Wal-Mart, Nike, and Timberland — all identified in the report as buying leather products or meat that came from cattle raised on deforested Amazon land — immediately announced new sourcing policies requiring full traceability and transparency from their suppliers to ensure beef and leather products weren’t coming from former rainforest. Under pressure from their customers and the government — which threatened billions in fines — Brazilian cattle producers, processors, and traders fell into line, declaring moratoriums on deforestation. The hottest commodity in the Brazilian Amazon became credible supply-chain management, spawning a rush to develop certification systems and land registries for “responsible” ranches.”