At Seventh Generation, we don’t own our manufacturing facilities, so we ensure the sustainability of our offerings by seeking partners who share our values. Our Manufacturing Partner Audit Program (MPAR) is one way we engage our tier-one suppliers in a dialogue about our goals around environmental and social responsibility. The program is unique for the level of mentoring it provides our contract-manufacturing partners and for our high expectations of them. In 2008, we completed audits, begun in 2007, of all of our partners covering traditional concerns such as quality assurance and logistics as well as environmental issues such as compliance, water pollution, energy use, waste management, and employee-related categories. 2008 also marked our first daylong Manufacturing Partners Sustainability Summit chock-full of opportunities to learn about sustainability best practices. See our 2008 CC report discussion of our extensive supplier relationship-building efforts.
Our plans for 2009 included auditing 80% of our manufacturing partners and obtaining carbon-footprint data from them. The economic downturn created an uncertain budget situation that forced us to postpone hiring a dedicated employee to manage this effort. As a result, we conducted no supplier audits in 2009. This was disappointing, but we consciously made the decision to focus our limited resources on our products, an area in which we made great strides.
Though our formal audit program was on hiatus in 2009, we continued to work to build relationships with our suppliers and to foster their embrace of sustainability best practices. Our ongoing quality assurance activities were focused on performing quarterly testing of all products, auditing paperwork to ensure our specified ingredients were used, and attending the first runs of new and upgraded products. We made over 200 changes to products and packaging last year and tried to be at our partner facilities for all first runs incorporating those changes. This provided an invaluable opportunity for us to observe processes, procedures, and employees at our partner plants.
Beginning in 2010, our audit reports will request data on:
electrical use; fuel use; greenhouse gas emissions; water use and discharge; hazardous and nonhazardous waste; and recycling and diversion rates at the facility. Our MPAR specialist will audit 3 of our 13 manufacturing partners in 2010 and the remainder in 2011.