Can corporate social responsibility really drive sustainable development? Many business leaders believe it’s possible, but there remains debate about how best to achieve it. What is certain, however, is that consumers expect more from corporations and for-profit ventures. Rising consumer awareness is challenging corporate organizations to take sustainability issues beyond compliance by embracing sustainable business practices.
According to GreenBiz.com’s State of Green Business report for 2014, consumers are fast connecting the dots between the well-being of species and ecosystems and that of their companies, communities and families. I had a chat with Dave Franks, the Vice-President, Operations of Reid’s Dairy Company, on this trend and his company’s perspective on sustainability.
Reid’s Dairy is Ontario’s largest independent milk company, with a 50,000-square-foot facility in Belleville, which serves as a production factory and retail store rolled into one.
Dave Franks (left), Vice –President, Operations and Media Manager Ryan Seward (right). Ryan is a graduate of Loyalist, and holds an advanced diploma in Business Administration with a certificate in Human Resources.
Dave is a veteran in the dairy profession. He agrees that businesses occupy a position of responsibility as far as sustainability is concerned. According to Dave, sustainability strongly influences Reid’s Dairy’s business practices and corporate culture, starting with the family at the helm of the business.
“Armin Quickert, the father of the current owner, Stephen, told me that it’s not always about money, it’s about the people,” says Dave. “We’ll make money doing it right. If you’re lucky to have a market for your product, then it is also right to give back. We’ll make the world a better place.”
The company has placed the environment, its consumers and the local community central to its operations, which include production, processing and packaging. Their retail store is fitted with a clear glass enclosure overlooking the production section, making it possible for customers to see the milk as it is being produced – talk about a commitment to transparency!
At the retail store, the company has ditched paper cups for foam ones that, according to Reid’s, are easier to manage and 100 percent recyclable. Even this sign in the Belleville facility was made with recycled materials.
From an economic sustainability viewpoint, the company supports the local economy by sourcing its products through Dairy Farmers in Ontario. “We are 100 percent Canadian,” Dave says proudly. “All our products are natural, wholesome and locally sourced. I call them ‘clean.’ We do not cut corners on standards.”
The company paved the way in North America with its unique packaging – paper cartons with resealable caps that are 100 percent recyclable.
“We support Stewardship Ontario, which is an industry-funded recycling initiative for brand owners, first importers and franchisers,” explains Dave. “For every package we sell out, we pay for it to go into the Stewardship Ontario Blue Box program.”
“For us, it’s about continuous improvement,” he adds. “Every day, we are inspired to do more by our consumers, so we do not take anything for granted. We will keep taking one step at a time towards achieving the common goal of making the world a better place.”