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Sustainability will play a much more significant and crucial role for independent distributors in 2024. For exceptional independents, those staying one step ahead of their competitors, understanding sustainability, its importance, and its many benefits is crucial.


Because of this, during the year, we will present more THINK AFFLINKs discussing sustainability. Let’s start it off with a definition. 


In 1987, the United Nations defined sustainability as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” 


Today, that definition has been expanded. Now, we think of sustainability as a new way of doing business, which involves: 

  • Protecting the environment
  • Social responsibility, such as giving back to communities.
  • Fair wages and benefits for workers; profitability with accountability and transparency.


With that qualified, here are five reasons exceptional independent distributors should focus on sustainability in 2024 and the future:


Reduce their environmental impact. Distributors play a crucial role in the flow of goods, and their operations can significantly impact the environment. Through measures like reducing energy consumption, optimizing transportation routes, and choosing sustainable packaging, distributors can dramatically decrease their carbon footprint and help address climate change.


Meet consumer demand. This is the big one. Consumer awareness of sustainability is growing, and many sustainability-focused organizations – i.e., your customers - are now actively seeking out products, brands, and distributors that align with their values. Distributors can attract a broader customer base and build brand loyalty by offering sustainable products and demonstrating their commitment to sustainability.


Manage resource scarcity. With growing populations and finite resources, sustainable practices become increasingly important. By optimizing resource usage and promoting circularity (maximizing the use and reuse of products), distributors can help ensure the long-term availability of essential resources for future generations.


Cost savings. Implementing sustainable practices invariably leads to cost reductions. For example, using energy-efficient equipment and fuel-efficient delivery trucks, optimizing logistics, reducing water consumption, and minimizing waste can all lead to significant cost savings.


Increased efficiency: Sustainability can boost efficiency and productivity by optimizing operations and processes. This also leads to cost savings, as resources are used more effectively, and waste is reduced.


Compliance with regulations: Environmental regulations are becoming increasingly common worldwide. By proactively adopting sustainable practices, distributors can ensure compliance and stay one step ahead of new environmental regulations.


Gaining a competitive edge. We’ve already referenced this, but let’s take a closer look. Twenty-plus years ago, when the demand for green cleaning products began to grow, only a handful of manufacturers and distributors carried these products. These manufacturers and distributors knew the road ahead was painted green. They surpassed their competitors when it came to marketing green cleaning products and stayed ahead of the pack for years.

Image of AFFLINK, LLC.

As “The Home of the Independent,” AFFLINK connects more than 250 manufacturers of Industrial Packaging, Facility Maintenance, Food Service, Safety, and Office Supply solutions with more than 300 independent distributors. AFFLINK (www.afflink.com) is the critical link, offering clients innovative products - and for distributors - market expertise and improved profitability, all of which is fuelled by leading-edge information technology.

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