How do we decarbonize the retail value chain by 2040?
This question was posed to more than 30 emerging industry leaders at the 6th Annual Leaders in Sustainable Thinking series. The annual event, hosted by Kruger Products and Canadian Grocer, brings together key stakeholders to address the industry’s biggest challenges. This year, attendees participated in a hackathon and worked in teams to find carbon neutral solutions and technologies within the retail value chain.
Hackathons are diverse and are typically suited to the program or opportunity that participants are trying to solve. The purpose of the Leaders in Sustainable Thinking Hackathon was to prepare emerging leaders to tackle big challenges and work across industries to solve large scale programs. Attendees were given case studies in advance to better understand the problem and then given a collaborative environment to find breakthrough ideas and solutions decarbonizing the retail value chain.
The hackathon format is new to Leaders in Sustainable Thinking. For the past six years, the series has hosted the industry’s key stakeholders as they learn from renowned experts, discuss new trends and address current challenges. This year’s hackathon invited a younger generation to move beyond discussing ideas and focus on how to implement solutions that could revolutionize the way retailers, suppliers and CPG companies approach problems caused by climate change.
“It’s not always experts, academics or executives that have the best ideas,” said Steven Sage, vice-president of innovation and sustainability, Kruger Products. “We wanted a group that would be inspired by the challenges the industry faces and that’s why we invited emerging leaders.”
With the question in-hand, attendees were placed into six teams and, for over three hours, they worked collaboratively to develop their recommendations on how to address the problem. The teams also had access to sustainability experts throughout the day who helped field ideas and answer tough questions.
“We know that the answer to the question needs more than a Hackathon,” said Ted Ferguson, president, Delphi Group. “But, we need to start somewhere and also encourage young leaders to think big if we want to drive real change.”
There was also a strong focus on multi-disciplinary teams to ensure that people were thinking beyond their areas of expertise. The event hosted people from personal care, retail, food and beverage, packaging, among many others, and a strong emphasis was placed on collaboration.
“Finding new ways to collaborate with others is both a challenge and an opportunity,” says Sage. “We need to rethink traditional notions of competition so we can come together and address increasingly complicated social and environmental problems — this was an extremely important theme throughout the hackathon”
The recommendations will be shared with industry sustainability leaders at the 2018 Leaders in Sustainable Thinking series to be held in February. The ideas will act as a platform to further encourage big thinking and collaboration among industry leaders.
Click here to learn more about the recommendations.