Cornell joins consortium to ‘green’ business supply chains

The university has new opportunities to champion greener consumer products, supply chains and commercial trade, as the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability on Jan. 13 began a partnership with The Sustainability Consortium (TSC).

With more than 100 corporate, academic and nongovernmental organization (NGO) members – including Amazon, ExxonMobil, Campbell’s, Colgate-Palmolive, Pepsico Inc., Walmart and the World Wildlife Fund – the consortium explores paths to address environmental, social and economic imperatives in business supply chains.

TSC and Atkinson will work together to connect faculty, students and staff with ongoing consortium projects that could translate Cornell research into business tools that spur consumer product sustainability. The partnership will also spur new projects to influence decision-making at corporate and policy levels, and to advance conservation finance to accelerate the adoption of sustainable practices and investment.

Faculty will now have a direct, clear and shorter path to engage directly with the consortium and with the companies and NGOs that belong to this group.

“The Sustainability Consortium’s success in bringing science to business opens an important way for moving academic knowledge into action,” said Patrick M. Beary, the Atkinson Center’s senior director for strategic partnerships.

Faculty and researchers will be able to join or collaborate with working groups so that their research or insights might improve trade. “With many thorny environmental and social issues to unwind, this brings Cornell faculty closer into these sustainable supply-chain conversations,” said Beary.

Last October, Christy Slay, the consortium’s director of technical alignment, visited campus to meet with researchers and learn about digital agriculture, the hospitality industry, ornithology and the university’s ongoing sustainability efforts.

As a result of those meetings, Slay vowed to leverage Cornell research for major policy and supply chain impacts.

“Connecting Cornell University with TSC’s members, including other academic institutions like the University of Arkansas, Arizona State University, Wageningen University (The Netherlands) and North Carolina State University, will create a powerful academic partnership for sustainability research and innovation to achieve large-scale, positive change,” she said.

Said Beary: “Cornell and Cornell Atkinson are dedicated to catalyzing real-world impact through partnerships between experts from across the university and diverse collaborators in both the public and private sectors.

“Now we have a seat at the table,” he said, “where we’re not just having conversations, but engaging decision-makers and companies to pilot and test solutions.”

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Jeff Tyson