The purpose of this report was to assess and analyse a large organisation to see how it practiced sustainability. This was done through a comparison of competitors and an assessment against various sustainability definitions.
Research for this report included a review of literature such as journals and books and case studies. The major findings from this indicate that the organisation Brambles which was the organisation chosen for the analysis did meet a, criteria which places it as a sustainable organisation.
This report provides an in depth analysis of Brambles ongoing approach to sustainability in practice. This has come as a result of acknowledging the claims of authors Kenneth et al (2010, p. 3) that sustainability is ‘development that meets the needs of the present generation while letting future generations meet their own needs.’ Taking this into perspective it has led to an understanding that organisations like Brambles are capable of being sustainable in practice providing they meet certain objectives.
Through the obtained information from literature, journals, reports and websites on the topic of sustainability in practice this report will analyse the main actions being taken by Brambles in order to ensure that it is a sustainable organisation.
The report will further assess the practicalities of these actions and its limitations whilst also drawing comparisons with industry competition.
2.0 Approaches to achieving sustainability in practice
Various approaches towards sustainability are currently being acted out on by Brambles to ensure that it is a leading organisation. As of recent since its decline in 2009 and ongoing negative comments such as ‘it having a lack of trust by its market’ Brambles has taken a great stance towards sustainability SMH (2009, p. 1).
Specifically it has done this through a five year strategy which focuses on the areas of environment, customers, society, supply chain and people. For the sake of this report however only environment, supply chain and customers will be investigated.
At present Brambles is trying to work towards a sustainability strategy for the better of the environment which has come as a result of previous years efforts. Bramble’s believes that ‘zero environmental damage’ can arise through hard effort Brambles Sustainability Report (2010, p. 11). Although a more likely reason for this is due to it being perceived as a recognised global company by its customers, employees, shareholders and the community thus it needing to uphold its image as a leader in corporate responsibility and sustainability (Brambles Sustainability Report 2010).
In order to uphold this, Brambles looks to reduce its environmental footprint through reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption whilst it also makes improvements in water and waste management and meets customer sustainability expectations (Brambles Sustainability Report 2010). By doing this Brambles may be able to achieve environmental sustainability whereby it’s able to ‘maintain the qualities that are valued in the physical environment’ Sutton (2004, p. 2).
Although recent research would suggest that Brambles is merely using aggressive marketing to declare itself as an organisation that is environmentally sustainable alongside its competitors (Pallet Enterprise 2011). Specifically this has been the case for its main subsidiary business CHEP which specialises in pallets. In its case it has failed to invest in highly positive recycling programs such as that of its competitor Woodstream who utilise old pallets as raw materials for new products (Woodstream 2011).
Based on this, obvious questions are apparent such as how environmentally sustainable Brambles, is? As during the course of the research no sustainability reports created by external parties for Brambles were found. Whilst there was also no framework indicating its success of previous initiatives either although through thriving competition it can be assumed that it has been matching or trying to match similar environmental objectives (Segnestam 2002).
2.2 Supply Chain
Brambles through the supply chains of its subsidiaries CHEP and Recall Serve is committed to driving efficiency and environmental sustainability (Brambles Sustainability Report 2010). Specifically it has been doing this through the responsible management of resources for Brambles, its customers, suppliers and the wider community. This has been achieved through the utilisation of certified sustainable resources and external auditors. By following this strategy it ensured that Brambles is engaged with its supply chain to be in line with Brambles environmental principles. An example of this is in relation to one of Brambles targets of obtaining certification for CHEP lumber pallets by 2015 to provide assurance that lumber comes from sustainable resources (Brambles Sustainability Report 2010).
This contrasts with the actions of Brambles main competitor iGPS who have already obtained relevant certification and compliancy standards (iGPS 2011). As such this again highlights a weakness for Brambles in terms of sustainability as it isn’t meeting competitor benchmarks in terms of supply chain sustainability although it has started to by achieving its first FCS accreditation for its own lumber plantation in South Africa in 2010 (Brambles Sustainability Report 2010). Based on this, Brambles is on par with achieving a sustainable supply chain, i.e. trying to improve environmental and societal impacts of goods (Green Captial 2011).
Brambles, is also trying to support supply chain sustainability through the use of its environmental calculator which other competitors are doing also. Specifically customers enter in information into the calculator which then informs them through a report of the environmental impacts and savings which may arise through using CHEP (Brambles Sustainability Report 2010). Again this is more in line with Brambles trying to promote itself to its customers as customers are wanting to see that it is sustainable with its resources although in the last decade evidence would suggest that Brambles and competing organisations are meeting environmental sustainability as the market demands it (Pallet Enterprise 2011).
Customer sustainability is presently being met through Brambles strategic objectives. Specifically this is being done through its recently created customer experience and insight council. The aim of the council has been to execute programs that drive customer loyalty across the business (Brambles Sustainability Report 2010). An example of this has been through its value added services which it offers to customers such as Procter and Gamble for free. For Procter and Gamble this has meant that it has been able to gain expertise knowledge in delivering a customised solution for its Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS).
Based on this Brambles does meet the criteria for customer sustainability as it sustains the life of those involved with the organisation by providing additional services (Langenwalter 2006). Although its approach towards acknowledging customer demands has been, slow. Specifically it has failed to meet demands for 100 per cent recyclable pallets in its subsidiary CHEP which are beneficial for the customer thus leaving an opening for Brambles main competitor iGPS to take some of its main customers such as Kraft and PepsiCo (AFR 2010). Based on this an area of concern in customer sustainability is meeting the demands of customers for products.
This report has assessed and alaysed the organisation Brambles in terms of its practice towards sustainability. The three areas of sustainability: environment, supply chain and customer were explored to generate a better overview of Brambles performance in terms of sustainability.
The literature which was looked at was with the intention that it be as current as possible to portray a clearer picture of Brambles current sustainability status. Definitions within this report were also looked at to see how Brambles approach to sustainability compared and to see whether or not it was in line.
Through the investigation of the three areas in this report it was found that Brambles performed better in certain areas than others. For example in relation to customer sustainability it performed better than environmental and supply chain.
Overall it was hard to determine whether or not Brambles as an organisation was sustainable although its recent efforts accompanied with its recent strategy and focus would show that it is. This is specifically due to its ongoing positive performance in its growth plan and its investment in business development (ASX 2011); (Gerrard 2011).
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Kenneth, et al. 2010, Sustainability and the Measurement of Wealth, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge, Cambridge.
Langenwalter, G. 2006, ‘"Life" is Our Ultimate Customer: From Lean to Sustainability’, Zero Waste Alliance, Vol. 22, No. 1, pp. 5 – 14.
Pallet Enterprise 2011, How Green Are Your Pallets? A Closer Look at Sustainability and the Pallet Industry, viewed 17 May 2011, <http://www.palletenterprise.com/articledatabase/view.asp?articleID=3204>.
Segnestam, L. 2002, Indicators of Environment and Sustainable Development: Theories and Practical Experience, Paper No. 89, The World Bank Environment Department, Washington.
Sutton, P. 2004, A Perspective on environmental sustainability: A paper for the Victorian Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability, Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability, Victoria.
Sydney Morning Herald, 2009, Big Changes Required at Brambles, Sydney Morning Herald, viewed 14 May 2011, <http://www.smh.com.au/business/big-changes-required-at-brambles-20091213-kqjh.html#ixzz1MQDzp7pb>.
Woodstream, 2011, About Us, Woodstream, viewed 15 May 2011, <http://www.woodstream.com/about-us>.