It’s one thing to start off a new year thinking about ways to reduce your waistline or cholesterol. But have you given any thought to reducing your carbon footprint?

Several global CPG companies are trying to answer that question and – before too much more time goes by – I’ll put the same question to you. Let’s face it. You can make your own decisions about trendy technologies and food fads; whether you want to invest in radio frequency identification (commonly called “RFID”) or low-carb products (or organic foods, for that matter).

On the other hand, I’m convinced that this larger shift toward sustainable practices – principally, what the industry can do to reduce negative environmental impacts – will soon impact you. It’s one of those scenarios where “money talks.”

One group already talking is the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), a global nonprofit organization that’s coordinating environmental data requests on behalf of 315 investors with $41 trillion in assets under management. In a recent release, CDP asked several multinationals (those joining the Supply Chain Leadership Collaboration) to each review their supply chain carbon footprint.

For its part, CDP said it plans to develop a standardized methodology to measure supply chain emissions so that all corporations can assess global climate impacts.

Paul Dickinson is the CDP’s chief operating officer. In a recent press release, he concluded, “By bringing together the purchasing authority of some of the largest companies in the world, CDP will encourage suppliers to measure and manage their greenhouse gas emissions. This will enable large companies to work towards measuring their total carbon footprint, as this is the first step to managing it and reducing it.”

Those participating multinationals with food ties are Nestlé SA, Unilever plc and British retailer Tesco.

How soon will your company be prepared to do something – anything – in this regard? According to a joint study by the Grocery Manufacturers Association and Deloitte &Touche USA, 62 percent of U.S. consumer business companies focus on initiatives that manage direct risks and reduce costs. However, only 8 percent of these firms leverage sustainability to create a unique competitive advantage.

Just last month, Deloitte identified environmental sustainability as one of the top eight business issues “that will matter most in 2008.”

I believe it’s only a matter of time before every purchaser – anywhere in the food industry supply chain – will more strongly consider sustainable practices when selecting among suppliers.

Jim Henson’s Kermit the Frog once lamented that, “it’s not easy being green.” I agree and I suspect that you’d rather not spend the money or time on additional environmental impact studies. On the other hand, if you don’t start making some progress in this area, you’ll feel blue when passed over by someone making supply chain purchasing decisions.