The economy of sustainability

This week, Marks and Spencer’s announced they are going to be labelling avocados with lasers instead of stickers.   This will save them 10 tonnes of paper and 5 tonnes of glue every year.  They believe it will use less energy and resources and reduce their carbon footprint.  If this trial is successful, they will be looking for other food stuffs that can be similarly labelled.

 This is yet another example of companies making decisions based both on what is good for their pocket and the planet.

Some years ago, I was responsible for buying food stuffs for our hotel kitchen.  It frustrated me when we would get one small item, such as a cheese or a few fish, delivered in a brand-new cardboard box.  Initially, I accepted this and carefully collapsed the cardboard box and added it to the recycling (which we had to pay for!)

After a few months, I called our suppliers and told them that I would no longer accept the cardboard boxes, and either they could take them away once they had delivered, and hopefully use again, or find some other means of transporting their goods.

One supplier was particularly receptive to my concerns, sharing my desire to be a bit greener.  Within a few days, his driver was arriving with some heavy-duty plastic boxes, which he proceeded to unload and take back with him.

Some months later, I happened to be on the phone to this supplier and asked him how the changes had gone.  He reported to me that not only did all his customers seem happy with the new delivery system, but he was saving money as he was not spending on the cardboard boxes.  The initial investment had been costly, but the payback period was relatively quick and his customers were delighted as they had less to recycle.

These two examples show that when we try to be a bit greener, we can save money whilst still providing our customers with high quality service and products.

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