Stonyfield Farm’s Wood Turner says that with the company’s environmental efforts now in their third decade, the company is working “to move beyond a relatively small environmental team to a true company-wide green team.”

Hundreds of viewers joined us on February 16 as MIT Sloan's Jason Jay talked about sustainability and the product lifecycle with Stonyfield Farm's Wood Turner and SAP's Peter Graf.

You can watch the archived video panel. As well, we asked Turner and Graf to answer some of the thoughtful questions submitted by viewers. Below, the first of what will be a series of mini Q&As.

What has the process of integrating sustainability throughout the whole organization been like? What are the most important challenges?

Turner: At Stonyfield, it’s an incredibly exciting time for us in terms of employee engagement. Our environmental leadership is now nearly three decades old, our formal Mission Action Program (MAP) has just hit the five-year mark and it’s time to move beyond a relatively small environmental team to a true company-wide green team.

We’re now embedding key environmental functions deeper into the organization, not just within a “sustainability” silo. Our manufacturing organization is energized by lean manufacturing principles, and so we’ve realized that our MAP program – our environmental impact reduction efforts – align perfectly with those existing efforts. We are working to develop advocates and leaders within the organization who are motivated to help us continually set a higher bar for our sustainability leadership. I would say that we’re at a point in the maturation of MAP when the really lasting impact of the program will become clear.

I think there are two primary challenges. The first is that we believe strongly that the sustainability function at the company should support – but not drive – our commitment to sustainability leadership. To make sustainability sustainable, if you will, it must be recognized and prioritized by the business. At Stonyfield, we’ve had that because our sustainability program has created real value for the company in the avoidance of costs associated with waste. But vigilance is key. Priorities for a company are always in flux, so it’s important in that context to ensure that the opportunities sustainability creates continue to have a profile in the management decision-making process.

Graf: The most important challenge by far is internal change management – changing people’s attitudes that their own individual actions can make a difference at their company.  They understand the impact on their personal lives, but translating to how they help a large company is more complex to them.