By Mike Kapalko, Sustainability Marketing Manager, Tork brand, North America SCA AmericasSCA, maker of the Tork brand of away-from-home paper products, understands that being "environmentally friendly" is not a marketing buzzword but an opportunity to examine the social and environmental impact of a company. A major part of that commitment is reporting results and numbers stemmed from green efforts implemented throughout a restaurant or foodservice operation.

If companies are truly focused on the three P's of sustainability — people, planet and profit — each should have an affect on the bottom line. Research done by SCA shows that 77 percent of U.S. businesses, and 84 percent of Canadian businesses, consider a vendor's commitment to sustainability a "somewhat important" factor in deciding whether to purchase products or services. Why, then, do so many businesses pass on opportunities to share their sustainability story?

Being committed to a culture of sustainability means more than building a recycling program or using environmentally responsible resources; it's also being open about the efforts a company makes, the standards and requirements it upholds and the results it sees from being green. This transparency gives customers and partners confidence they are connecting with a sustainability leader.

Foodservice professionals have several opportunities to measure and report their accomplishments in sustainability. To gather the best and most compelling results and deliver effectively, companies should start with specific green goals and develop a plan to measure for a specific product, service or the overall company. Businesses can then communicate their environmental footprint through a variety of tactics targeted to the right audiences.

Many organizations and foundations even identify companies who voluntarily report this information, including the WWF Environmental Paper Company Index. Each year, WWF examines leaders in transparency and recognizes 25 of the world´s most important pulp and paper manufacturers. For the third year in a row, WWF recognized SCA for its transparency in disclosing its ecological footprint.

SCA remains committed to setting and meeting challenging goals, a step that all companies should take to be able to see the results of their efforts. We believe that to be truly sustainable, we need to focus on all of the green opportunities throughout our entire operation, not only a selection of products or locations.

WWF reported that 25 out of 70 invited companies took the opportunity to demonstrate their transparency and showcase to buyers, investors and stakeholders that it takes environmental responsibility seriously. If other companies follow suit, we can better track the sector's journey toward a more sustainable future. Those in all industries, especially foodservice, must recognize that being green and sharing that story is an imperative part of business costs today.