It’s not a stretch to say that no matter what one’s role at a company may be, launching a new product, strategy and, of course, a path toward becoming a more sustainable business is far from easy. Many of us are still working remotely; companies have more stakeholder groups to whom they must answer; and new means of communication such as social media can muddle the message as much as expedite it. Meanwhile, sustainability isn’t a nice-to-have; it’s now a must-have.
And if current trends hold, sustainability isn't enough. Regenerative is fast entering the corporate lexicon, as there is more pressure to shift toward a more circular economy.
So how can companies drive innovation when it comes to succeeding on stakeholder engagement, educating consumers as well as maintaining successful relationships with partners? During a panel at this week’s Sustainable Brands conference in San Diego, Prakash Arunkundrum, Logitech’s head of global operations and sustainability, offered valuable insight to anyone vested in the sustainability space, whether they are a heading a marketing team, wear the hat as product manager or are tasked with revamping an organization’s strategic direction.
Let’s first shine light on one of Arunkundrum’s many achievements: His work has helped Logitech increase its use of post-consumer plastic within its largest product portfolio to 50 percent earlier than the company had planned.
For Arunkundrum, it was important to view “carbon as the new calorie.” He explained that it was important for the team at Logitech to understand the very footprint of the products that they create. “We want to be as transparent as we are able,” he added, noting that the company discloses its carbon footprint not only for its operations, but does the same for its Scope 2 and 3 emissions as well.
The company’s ongoing focus to reduce carbon, however, is far from limited to the checking of boxes on disclosure statements. If anything, Arunkundrum described a process that led to one important first in the industry: carbon labeling, a decision that not only helped the company stand out within its industry, but also convinced more of its competitors to do the same.
According to Arunkundrum, Logitech’s original plan was not to roll out carbon labeling. “The intention was to understand the effects of carbon,” he said.
At first, the company had been working with vendors to find ways in which it could reduce the emission of carbon during the entire manufacturing process. Concurrent during those conversations was the back-and-forth Logitech had with one of its most important stakeholders: the gamers who buy its products.
Logitech has long said that it is “designing for sustainability,” a commitment extended to all of its products, including those crucial for gaming. Part of that ongoing promise to its stakeholders is the fact that all its gaming products are now labeled as “climate pledge friendly” on Amazon.
“We want to influence the choices they are making,” said Arunkundrum, “as well as have them help keep us accountable.”
Like many companies, Logitech faces the reality that while its customers may say they want more responsible, sustainable and regenerative products, at the same time, that doesn’t mean they necessarily want to pay a “green” or “sustainability” premium when it comes time to purchase any such items.
In the case of gamers, even if they want a sustainable mouse, keyboard or other accessory, being limited to a dowdy color as in some shade of grey won’t excite those customers. That demand has helped drive Logitech’s own culture of innovation; since 2017, the company says it has been working with its vendors to go beyond grey resins. The result is that 30 colors are now available within the company’s portfolio of products. The product line is also carbon-neutral. “Resins with flair,” Arunkundrum quipped.
In contrast (pardon the pun), color also became one factor in how Logitech has approached packaging in recent years — as in, how to make it more sustainable. The results? Well, they include smaller packaging that uses less materials and fiber, and also less color. After all, less color on packaging means less money spent on procuring. Arunkundrum noted that the company was actually able to save costs on this front, which meant any discussion of a “green premium” for its products was not necessary.
One argument that has long lingered within the business community is that for larger companies, one barrier to becoming a more sustainable operation is that these decisions take time. Intuitively, it makes sense: A larger company means more employees, more managers, more departments and more stakeholders, thereby extending the decision-making process. Arunkundrum made it clear that is not the case at Logitech. As this session reached its conclusion, he said, “When you’re already a leader in the field, when you feel that instinct, follow it!”
That is to say, buy-in across the company is important. “You have to have the conviction to invest in the marketing effort and the design effort,” said Arunkundrum.
For those interested in learning more, Logitech’s latest sustainability report is available here.