Top Ways Green is Good for the Customer

By Richard Marriott, North America Sustainability Leader, Kimberly-Clark Professional | May 7, 2012

Going green may help your company’s reputation, along with its bottom line.

At Kimberly-Clark Professional, our customers are looking for us to supply them with sustainable products and solutions that meet their environmental goals. In addition to ensuring a product or platform is in keeping with our Reduce Today, Respect Tomorrow approach to sustainability, we also make sure that we provide the information necessary to help customers document and celebrate their environmental successes. As the demand for sustainable products continues to grow by leaps and bounds each year, our customers are carefully examining the products they purchase to ensure the choices they make are cost-effective and environmentally sound.

1) Green Business Innovates

To be considered a certifiably green product vendor, a company must commit to a thorough review of its business processes and develop a comprehensive plan for improving its approach to sustainability. This process, including analysis of a product’s entire lifecycle—from sourcing to disposal—offers an opportunity to innovate in other areas that may benefit customers. These innovations may include new delivery methods that reduce costs or changes in packaging that reduce material usage and ultimately cost. There may also be improvements to the products themselves in terms of efficacy. Vendors that are maintaining a business-as-usual attitude toward sus­tainability may be missing out on opportunities to lower the purchase price of products, advance the functionality of products or provide other business benefits to customers in terms of service.

2) Green Businesses Flourish

A manufacturer willing to consider its environmental impact and act on its findings is not only thinking of its customer’s best interests, it is also willing to innovate and stick around for the long-term. Customers or end-users that purchase products from a green company should feel confident in the company’s ability to understand and meet complex business needs far into the future. What’s good for business must also be good for the environment, as well as for the interests of customers.

3) Meeting Your Customer’s Green Goals

Today, many companies have formal environmental management systems that mandate various processes for reducing waste and emissions, and promote the efficient use of energy and materials. No one is an expert on every single aspect of environmental management; minimizing your environmental impact is complicated. However, increasingly, green vendors are becoming subject matter experts on the pieces of the environmental puzzle that their products impact and they are able to provide customers with information needed to achieve their environmental goals.

For example, when a large transportation network decided to make its washrooms more sustainable, Kimberly-Clark Professional committed to visiting all of the network’s facilities across the country to perform site audits and determine where the network could optimize its current product portfolio to include more sustainable options. During the assessment process, we performed an environmental analysis using an interactive tool designed to provide a comparative analysis of product-specific environmental impact information in the areas of fiber consumption, energy, water and solid waste generation. Each analysis showed the benefits of shifting the current product mix to more environmentally friendly products and demonstrated the impact of the change on water, electricity and fiber reductions.

4) Green Will Save You Some Green

Some companies are adopting environmentally friendly practices because they want to do their part to save the earth. Others are going green due to mounting evidence that this process will save them money. Many are enjoying the happy confluence of the two. The overall best value takes into account performance, price, availability, regulatory requirements and environmental impact. Today, purchasers can quickly examine many relevant product attributes, recognize that some tradeoffs are inevitable but ultimately make an environmentally and economically sound choice.

5) Healthier, Safer, More Productive

Sustainability programs and green products have also been shown to motivate and engage employees. Going green strengthens the culture by giving employees a shared goal. An engaged employee is fully involved in an organization’s culture and value system and will act in a way that helps the organization achieve its goals. The degree to which an employee is engaged affects the company’s productivity, reputation and ultimately its profitability.