Thinking globally but sourcing locally can have positive impact on the planet.

December 5th, 2008

As the price of oil and related fossil fuel costs continue to erode

As the price of oil and related fossil fuel costs continue to erode, companies will go right back to sourcing more and more products from off shore instead of looking locally for similar goods. Is this necessary or good for the carbon footprint we leave?

Greenhouse gases increased by 1.4% during 2007 in the United States according to the Energy Department. This is a direct result of people using more coal, oil and natural gas during the year because of a colder winter and more electricity during a warmer summer. During 2007 the United States created eight billion tons of greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide accounted for eighty three percent (83%) of the total according to the Energy Information Administration or EIA.

The question this begs is how much greenhouse gas were we responsible for globally that might be reduced by local sourcing. If a container ship is registered in another country we obviously do not count the emissions from the burning of fossil fuels associated with the ocean freight headed for our shores. I’m also not sure we count all of the overland freight emissions from fleets in other parts of the world delivering goods to stores owned an operated by retailers with headquarters located in the North America.

Many companies claim that greenhouse gases caused by ocean freight are one of their top contributing categories to their overall carbon footprint. It only makes sense that if retailers sourced fewer products from offshore, which in turn would decrease the amount of ocean freight required to move these products that our overall contribution of greenhouse gases would come down.

In order to support local sourcing, North American retail companies need to have a source that can tell them where suppliers within the trade zone are located by category and product. It is also important that the supplier community be able to register at such a site in order to be easily accessible to regional retailers.

A tool of this nature already which can tell retailers where there are 928 general merchandise suppliers located in Mexico, 1,585 Grocery Suppliers located in Canada, and 1,940 Pharmaceutical suppliers located in the United States. Please visit the SafeSourcing Query Tool to learn more.

We appreciate and look forward to your comments.

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