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Sustainable Products Are Not Enough: Customers Want Responsible Suppliers
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One of my favorite parts of being on UPS’s “green team” is learning how our customers are embracing sustainability. Geiger is one of the nation’s leading promotional products companies that is deep into the peak buying season for corporate holiday gifts  They tell me the hottest items this year are eco-friendly products featuring biodegradable and renewable materials, organic or recycled content, and energy-friendly and hand-powered items. And starting this month, all of their shipments will be sent UPS carbon neutral.

Geiger has a 130-year legacy tied to the land and nature. Many of their top executives grew up near the corporate headquarters in Lewiston, Maine – an area rich with lakes, forests and a sensibility about protecting the environment. Jo-An Lantz, Geiger’s Executive Vice President, is the daughter of one of the area’s first organic farmers and she fondly remembers putting lady bugs in the potato fields as a replacement for pesticides.  Now, her mission is to bring that environmental awareness to Geiger.

Jo-An Lantz

Jo-An Lantz

Six years ago, the first wave of “green” products swept into the promotion item industry. “But the definition of ‘green’ (environmentally responsible) was very loose at the time,” said Lantz. “Now customers are much more discerning about not only the products but the companies they buy from as well.”

“They require documentation, certifications and proof that the products are sustainable throughout their life-cycle,” said Lantz. “They want to know that their suppliers are acting responsibly.”

Environmentally-responsible business practices are at the forefront of Geiger’s thinking:

  • Geiger joined the Grow Boston Greener initiative that guided them with operational changes. They invested in energy-saving improvements to their pumps, compressors, light fixtures and air-conditioning that have resulted in annual reduction of electricity usage by 840,000 kilowatt hours and 14,000 gallons of fuel oil.
  • This month, Geiger signed up for the UPS carbon neutral program. On their behalf, UPS will purchase carbon offsets that mitigate the amount of carbon emissions associated with their shipping.
  • Geiger’s business unit SunGraphix, which prints paper goods and calendars, went to post-recycled papers stock decades ago. And Geiger is the publisher of the Farmers Almanac, which has been sharing information about preserving and respecting the earth since 1818.

What’s next for Geiger? Executives are looking in to geothermal heating at their headquarters, and talking to their UPS experts about how to make their shipment packaging more eco-responsible.

Category: Business Insights, Environment, Sustainability
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