Another area gaining interest is tracking and tracing as it relates to global sustainability, adds Frank. For instance, visibility throughout a company's global supply chain can inform stockholders, retail customers and consumers who are the countries of origin supplying raw materials.
"Companies can then advise if those countries are impacting their environments in a responsible manner as they produce food. We think this will become a powerful marketing tool so retailers can provide this kind of information to their consumers, thereby building buyer confidence," says Frank.
Beyond the economic benefits derived from sustainable business practices, companies can achieve a positive public relations image. But the most successful sustainability initiatives need support from the top down, says Frank. "The best practices we see implemented are predominately in companies with executive buy-in. If you don't have support from senior executives, the chances are not great that these types of sustainability initiatives will proceed over the long-term."
In the broader view, it will cost companies not to be green. Not only will they be at a competitive disadvantage in the marketplace, says Ellsworth, but it will cost companies not to be energy efficient. "Legislation is considering a plan that could have companies paying a tax or buying carbon credits if they are over certain emissions thresholds."
A pending greenhouse emissions bill could require a 65 percent reduction of carbon emissions by 2050.