Seventy-one percent of U.S. companies report that they proactively market the “environmental friendliness” of their products to their customers, which is comparatively higher than the global average of 59 percent. Yet, U.S. companies lag behind their global counterparts in developing “green” supply chains, the process by which products and services get from design to delivery and the operational area of many enterprises that is widely believed to leave the most significant environmental footprint.

Globally, the single-most important driver for companies to implement “greener” operations is regulatory compliance.

“For several years, U.S. companies have enjoyed significantly less regulatory oversight of their environmental impact,” said Tom Wrobleski, BearingPoint’s North American Supply Chain Practice Leader. “Most of the investment into being environmentally friendly has been driven by improving the corporate image. The U.S. consumer wants to buy socially responsible products and companies know that.

“That said, we expect to see U.S. companies take a much closer look at their environmental impact during the next few years, as energy costs have skyrocketed making the motivation much less about regulatory pressure and corporate image, and more about cost-savings,” continued Wrobleski.

Also of note is the fact that 36 percent said their greatest barrier toward the implementation of “environmentally friendly” supply chains is a lack of information while 11 percent saw cost as a limiting factor.

“Companies want to be environmentally friendly,” Wrobleski continued. “They know that in the long run, sustainability will become an increasingly important factor for corporate success as it will keep costs contained and ensure resources for the future. The problem, in many cases, is not that it’s too expensive to implement “green” supply chains, it’s that they don’t know how to.”

While 83 percent of all companies surveyed claim to factor environmental concerns into their corporate strategy, slightly less than a quarter of U.S. companies have worked to implement “green” supply chains, while approximately 38 percent of European companies and nearly all Japanese companies have taken steps to ease their environmental impact of their supply chain.

“The most significant strides we’ve seen in the U.S. are being taken by industry groups,” said Wrobleski. “Industry groups often share the same suppliers and have similar supply chain models so it is in their best interest to work together to build efficiencies at an industry level and, at the same time, enhance the “environmentally friendly” image of their industry.”

The survey also revealed that those companies which have acted are seeing a significant increase in customer satisfaction and are gaining some competitive advantage as a result; furthermore they are not only preempting likely new legislation, but also benefiting from savings in operating costs.

The survey questioned 601 directors of firms from around the globe with revenues ranging from $100 million to more than $1 billion.

BearingPoint is a global player in the Sourcing and Supply Chain space, currently employing more than 2,000 consultants with supply chain experience and more than 800 Supply Chain consultants, who engage full-time meeting the needs of BearingPoint’s global client base. BearingPoint’s Supply Chain and Sourcing team delivered more than 850 supply chain projects in 2007.

BearingPoint’s areas of Supply Chain and Sourcing offerings include: supply chain strategy; sourcing and procurement; product innovation and lifecycle management; supply chain planning collaboration and optimization; operations excellence; and logistics.