This Problem Solver Guidebook, provided by some of the leading suppliers to the baking industry, showcases innovative solutions for many of the challenges bakers face. As I read through each problem and accompanying solution, I wondered how much â€śsustainability,â€ť the latest industry buzzword, factored into each company's product development process.
â€śSustainability is a mega trend that everyone will follow,â€ť says Claus Oliver Schmidt, Ph.D., senior vice president, global innovation, Symrise, Holzminden, Germany, as reported by NutraIngredients.com, Europe. In describing sustainability, Schmidt appears to be talking not only about monitoring the company's water and carbon footprint, but curbing energy use, sourcing raw materials from renewable resources in proximity of production plants to reduce transportation costs, and minimizing waste, whenever possible.
While the sustainability trend might be in full force in Europe, it still seems to be gathering steam in the United States. More often than not, companies are appointing senior level managers with responsibility for sustainability, which is all well and good, but what does sustainability mean?
Sustainability has been expressed as â€śmeeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,â€ť according to the Brundtland Commission in its report, â€śOur Common Future.â€ť Fine, now how do we go about doing that? In reading about sustainability, certain words and phrases commonly appear: carbon footprint, minimizing waste, social responsibility, renewable resources, recycling, human well-being, environmental standards and so on.
Even consumers seem a bit confused, though 93 percent of those surveyed by The Hartman Group Inc., Bellevue, Wash., exhibit what the firm calls â€śsustainability consciousness.â€ť And, about 54 percent of those surveyed say they understand the term sustainability, although most could not clearly define it.
The Center for Sustainable Innovation, Thetford Center, Vt., breaks down three of the major areas into what it calls the â€śtriple bottom line perspective,â€ť so companies can actually find ways of measuring their sustainable goals. Sample metrics for the environmental bottom line include: greenhouse gas emissions, fresh water use, fossil fuel use and solid waste emissions. Metrics for the social bottom line include impacts on healthcare, educational institutions, social services and non-ecological impacts contributing to climate change. And, metrics for the economic bottom line include impacts on vocational training, scholarships or grants; impacts on the incidence of child labor; and impacts on fair trade practices.
Whether your company selects one or all of the metrics listed above, sustainability will seemingly impact one area of your business or another in the near future, if it hasn't already. And, you'll have to determine whether or not sustainability factors into your innovation process.