Competitors Collaborating for Sustainability

I recently wrote about the fact that corporate sustainability is both a competitive battle ground and an arena for collaboration among companies, even competitors. I cited the examples of Dell and HP collaborating on developing standards for recycling IT electronics products. I also put a question out on LinkedIn seeking other examples of competitors collaborating for the sake of sustainability and got a number of great responses, which I’ll summarize below.

Janet Baker at the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce cited her organization’s “Climate Partners” program, in which 180 local corporations signed agreements committing to making their own corporations more sustainable. Janet pointed out that a number of industry competitors are in the group, which meets monthly at the Chamber to discuss best practices and to learn how to improve their own corporate sustainability efforts.

Allison Lin Naman, a senior purchasing manager at Procter & Gamble pointed to the Sustainability Consortium, which has a growing membership of blue-chip companies who are working together to develop standardized, science-based approaches for measuring, improving and communicating about sustainability. Its membership includes many competitors in each of the industry segments it works with.  For example, Unilever, Colgate-Palmolive and Procter & Gamble are all participate in the Home and Personal Care Working Group.  Allison also cited the the American Institution for Packaging and the Environment which numbers P&G and Colgate, and Dow Chemical and Dupont among its members.

Rodd Eddy, a freelance consultant in New Zealand gave a shout out to the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association [nothing there yet], which he says is a new organisationinitiated through the joint IFC/World Bank Initiative of Lighting Africa. He says Philips and OSRAM, TOTAL and BP are members.

Lin Kaatz Chary, Executive Director of Great Lakes Green Chemistry Network
pointed to GC3 – Green Chemistry and Commerce Council, whose membership includes competitors like Herman Miller and Steelcase; Target and Walmart; Bayer and BASF. She also cited the Biz-NGO Working Group, which hase competitors Dell and HP, among others, on its membership roster.

Daniel O’connor, director of Waste Action called out the very interesting National Industrial Symbiosis Programme, which “brings together traditionally separate industries and organisations from all business sectors with the aim of improving cross industry resource efficiency and sustainability; involving the physical exchange of materials, energy, water and/or by-products together with the shared use of assets, logistics and expertise.” Another one Daniel pointed to is WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme), which “works in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to help businesses and individuals reap the benefits of reducing waste, develop sustainable products and use resources in an efficient way.”

Finally, Manuela Fassbender, founding partner at MBF Trend Consulting cited the Sustainable Apparel Coalition which has competitors New Balance, Adidas and Nike among its members.

If you are tracking this topic and would like to contribute other examples, please leave a comment!



Filed under sustainability

2 responses to “Competitors Collaborating for Sustainability

  1. Procter & Gamble has also been a long-term member of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, which has been in existence since 2004 and helped pave the way for both the Sustainability Consortium and American Institution for Packaging and the Environment. Check us out at and!

  2. Joymalya Chakraborty

    Is Collaboration an act of De-marketing ? Reducing demand to match the supply is a reverse push rather than natural demand pull OR it’s limiting the Supply to match the Demand . Both are feasible either with incurring loss or else profit . The Competitors Collaboration on Sustainable future niches is the well put act on redefining Competition with predefined stakes on future Market Shares on Collaborated Ideation and a road map to it’s future commercialization . It’s what I feel sustainable on future trend Operationalization than mere inbound trend analysis .

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