Helping Customers Reach their Sustainability Goals
We work to create a more sustainable workplace for our customers and our communities through our Environmentally Preferable Product (EPP) Portfolio. We offer our customers one of the largest green SKU counts in the industrial distribution market, providing more ways to reduce energy consumption, conserve water, reduce waste and improve indoor air quality. In addition the company offers data-driven EPP analytics to our customers helping them track, report and grow their green spend. Similarly, we equip our customer-facing team members with training, sales tools and marketing support so that they can help customers achieve meaningful progress towards their sustainability goals and initiatives.
In 2017, we launched a cross-functional CSR Working Group sustainability sub-team with representatives from product management, external affairs and sales that focuses on assisting customers with their EPP procurement goals and promoting EPP solutions. This sustainability service and operations team brings collective experience in managing environmentally preferable product certifications and attributes, reporting, measurement, regulatory compliance and marketing of EPP solutions.
Environmentally Preferable Products and Services
Each product in our EPP is designated by a green leaf on Grainger.com®, and comes with its own specific set of attributes or certifications highlighted in the technical spec section on the website.. The green leaf icon guides customers toward more environmentally preferable solutions. Products identified with this leaf fall into two categories—those that are certified by independent organizations and those that have “green environmental attributes.” A certification acts as a stamp of approval and indicates that a product has met certain environmental standards around attributes such as “energy efficient” (ENERGY STAR) or “low toxicity” (Green Seal). Attributes are environmental qualities or features tied to a specific product. We ask our suppliers to provide these attributes or certifications, and our external partner, UL Environmental Inc., verifies the viability of the attribute to the product.
In January of 2015, Grainger established a new portfolio of sustainability related services. In 2017 we expanded this portfolio of value-added services, which largely leverages the experience and expertise of our Grainger Energy Services Team. We also work with our network of partners in some instances to help our customers achieve their sustainability goals. The range of services includes site audits, payback analysis, utility rebate assistance, and recycling of replaced product. For example, Grainger can help facilitate a free lighting audit for customers considering a large interior or exterior lighting project. The audit consists of a site walk-through, fixture count, energy audit, return on investment, payback analysis, utility rebate assistance and applications (photo metrics), if applicable.
We continuously review our EPP for opportunities to provide tailored solutions to customers with sustainability and EPP procurement goals. Our EPP Portfolio offers more than 72,000 SKUs, including 33 certifications and 45 attributes. In 2017, sales of environmentally preferable products totaled more than $532 million, which represents approximately five percent of our revenue.
In 2017, we launched a new module in our First Time Manager leadership development program. Our objectives were to drive engagement and understanding in our sustainability initiatives across the business, bring awareness to the effect CSR has on our operations and gain insight from our team members on how they plan to tailor the CSR message to meet their daily business needs. 434 team members learned about our value chain, environmental performance and the ways we serve our community.
In addition to our leadership development program, we are taking steps to improve the level of sustainability expertise in customer-facing roles. Grainger released a Sustainability Sales Guide for our account managers and customer service professionals in October 2017 to improve offer awareness by outlining our sustainability value-proposition. In addition, we developed a formal sustainability training program for all new account manager learning paths. Our objective is to bring greater value to sustainability-related customer engagements, assist customers in meeting their sustainable procurement goals, and take costs out of their business.
In 2017, we launched recycling training in our DCs as a part of new member onboard and orientation.
Lastly, through a variety of online tools and resources, we provide our team members with a vast array of learning opportunities they can explore at their own pace.