Chapter 15

The Benefits of Sustainability-Driven Innovation

David Kiron, Nina Kruschwitz, Martin Reeves, Knut Haanaes, and Eugene Goh

This chapter is based on and adapted with permission from an article titled “Sustainability: The Benefits of Sustainability-driven Innovation” published in MIT Sloan Management Review in winter 2013.

Title Page

What connects corporate sustainability with business profits? Global executives say an important factor is business model innovation. Greif, a 135-year-old leading manufacturer of industrial packaging headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, is one company whose commitment to sustainability is expressed in its business model, which has evolved as part of Greif's sustainability agenda.

Scott Griffin is chief sustainability officer at Greif, which had net sales of $4.2 billion in 2011. He told us there are four keys to Greif's sustainability agenda, which has become central to the company's overall business operations and strategy. One is top management attention to sustainability. “One reason sustainability works here at Greif is high-level, strong executive commitment,” says Griffin. Unlike many chief sustainability officers, Griffin reports directly to the CEO and is a member of the company's executive strategy team.

Another key to Greif's approach to sustainability is collaboration. In the past three years, Greif has collaborated more with customers and nongovernmental ...

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