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Ice Cream Provides 5 Reasons to Incorporate Sustainable Practices

Perry's Ice Cream Black CherryNo dessert is more time and energy intensive than ice cream hand cranked in an old fashioned, salt-lined churner. When you’re making it at home using this method, a gallon of ice cream is an all-day event made with love and a small gang of helpers. Now, imagine producing more than 12 million gallons. Those making ice cream on such a large scale have a number of additional variables to consider and may choose to incorporate sustainable practices into their business model.

Many companies are embracing the triple bottom line. Rather than solely focusing on financial information, organizations committed to sustainability are taking social and environmental aspects into account as well. Under this model, success is not only defined by a business’s annual profit. The well-being of employees, the environmental impact of the company’s activities and contributions to the community are also part of the overall equation representing the organization’s value.

One company making sustainability a priority and reaping the benefits is Perry’s Ice Cream. As a member of its board of advisors, I’m proud to say Perry’s is entering its 97th year of business. Located in Akron, New York, Perry’s is one of the two largest ice cream manufacturing plants in New York State and produces more than 12 million gallons of ice cream per year. Perry’s formalized its sustainability program and made it a top business priority in 2011. Since then, the company incorporated sustainable business practices into all aspects of the company’s operations. The AICPA recently released a case study highlighting Perry’s Ice Cream’s sustainability efforts.

Most businesses exist to make money, but businesses using sustainable practices have a more complex purpose that might seem counterintuitive at first glance. Why would a company embrace sustainable business practices? After speaking with CPAs and individuals in sustainability roles at organizations, we compiled the following list of reasons:

  1. Improve efficiency. By reviewing your company’s processes, you may be able to identify time saving solutions. For example, Perry’s Ice Cream was able to reduce the number of errors made while filling orders by investing in hands-free voice order picking technology (software allowing workers to efficiently gather and prepare items for shipment to customers) that reduced mistakes from 280 per week to only eight. In addition to reducing internal order filling and utility costs, this new system led to fewer last-minute production changes.
  2. Save money. By installing motion-activated light switches, investing in fuel-efficient vehicles and switching to paperless payment systems, your company can reduce its overall costs. Perry’s Ice Cream invested in fuel-efficient trucks with lower emissions and more efficient auxiliary on-board cooling units to transport their products. They also saved on fuel costs when they created an improved route management system.
  3. Attract and retain talent. Part of the triple bottom line approach focuses on the well-being, development and retention of staff. Prospective employees may be attracted to your organization based on your mission, vision and values. Additionally, current staff will be more inclined to stay at your company as they gain greater satisfaction from their work. Perry’s conducts Culture Engagement Surveys that reveal that the sustainability program is the highest-rated company initiative among employees. Perry’s shares its sustainability metrics and measurements in its regular employee communications throughout the year so that all of its employees can chart their progress and see the outcomes with pride.
  4. Appeal to consumers. The marketplace is full of choice. More and more customers are interested in supporting companies with environmentally friendly practices. As a result, companies can set themselves apart from their competition by embracing sustainable practices. Perry’s Ice Cream sources 95% of its milk products from local farms within 50 miles of Akron and packages all of its ice cream novelties in fully recyclable materials.
  5. Enhance your reputation.  Considering sustainable business practices can improve your brand image. Thinking about your employees’ well-being, your local community and the environmental impact of your company’s actions in addition to focusing on producing a quality product in an efficient manner, can improve the triple bottom line and the public’s perception of your company. As a result of its efforts, Perry’s Ice Cream has a long list of favorable customer reviews featured on the company’s Facebook page.

Perry’s serves as an inspiration for other companies looking to embrace the triple bottom line. For a comprehensive view of Perry’s Ice Cream’s sustainability program, take a look at this case study.

As CPAs, we can lead these initiatives. Whether you are a CPA in business and industry or public practice, there are opportunities to discuss the benefits of embracing sustainable business practices with your colleagues or clients.

Have you witnessed a company that has benefitted from incorporating sustainable practices into their business model? Have you spoken to clients about the advantages of embracing the triple bottom line?

James C. Metzler, CPA, CGMA, Founder, Metzler Advisory Group LLC in East Amherst, NY.  Jim served as AICPA Vice President - Small Firm Interests, where he led initiatives aimed at serving the needs of CPA firms including their practice success, advocacy and issues in serving private company clients. Jim serves on the Perry’s Ice Cream Board of Advisors and prior to the AICPA had spent over 32 years in public practice in Buffalo, NY.

(Photo credit: Perry's Ice Cream)

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