What Standard Register Learned From its Carbon Reporting Washout

What Standard Register Learned From its Carbon Reporting Washout

Standard Register bombed the first time it responded to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) in 2009 because it didn't have the processes in place to calculate its carbon footprint.

So the company, first asked by customer Bank of America to disclose its emissions to CDP, spent the next year putting in a measurement system and getting help from outside experts. Its efforts paid off: Standard Register's CDP disclosure score soared from below 25 points to 91 out of 100. In comparison, companies participating in the CDP's 2010 Supply Chain program earned an average score of 48 points.

"The largest impact or value from going through the CDP process was to add structure and process to our sustainability efforts around energy and GHG emissions," said Steve McDonell, Standard Register's vice president of engineering. "It forced us to have a very clear and comprehensive measurement system in place and, in turn, detailed planning, including goals and objectives for improvements. It really complimented the work we were already doing around waste management, recycling and certifications."

The company was not a newcomer to sustainability, having launched a formal program in 2007 that focused on purchasing certified paper products and reducing or reusing its waste. The biggest surprise from its CDP experience was confirmation that this existing sustainability program was robust and enhancing its bottom line.

"If you do this right, it's not that hard," McDonell said. "When you increase recycling, reduce waste and become environmentally responsible, there are paybacks."

The numbers speak for themselves: The company saved $54,256 in reduced landfill costs in 2010, compared to the year before. Standard Register also saw $41,400 in additional recycling revenue for facilities where the company instituted new programs or revised existing ones. The company has also reduced the liquid hazardous waste generated across its manufacturing network from 1,500 gallons in 2007, its baseline year, to 40 gallons in 2010, and zero so far in 2011; Standard Register is trying to quantify how much it cost to dispose of the 1,500 gallons in 2007.

Bank of America, one of Standard Register's customers, initially asked Standard Register to participate in the CDP Supply Chain initiative in 2009. Receiving a low score during this first attempt appeared to have provided something of a wake-up call for the company. Over the next year, Standard Register poured over the CDP questionnaire and gathered electricity consumption data from its administrative offices, distribution centers and 25 manufacturing facilities. The company was able to use an existing outsourced energy bill management process to gather much of the data. It was then turned over to the Delta Institute of Chicago, which crunches the numbers to calculate the company's carbon footprint.

The measurement system and a scorecard are crucial for progress, McDonell said, adding that the company is using the CDP experience to drive the next phase of its environmental efforts. Standard Register now recycles or reuses about 80 percent of its waste, but wants to boost that rate to 95 percent or higher in the next few years.

The company will also work with its own supply chain, with the formation of a new subcommittee of its Supply Chain Council that will be dedicated to sustainability across the supply chain, from the extraction and manufacturing of raw materials to the delivery of products to its customers.

It is also enhancing its environmental management system with an eye toward achieving ISO 14001 certification within the next two years, McDonell said. "That's a lofty goal for us."

Photo CC-licensed by FeatheredTar.