The Cadmium Crisis: Lessons from Sony’s environmental disaster.

In October 2001, a shipment owned by Sony was stopped from being sent to retailers by the Dutch government because of unacceptable levels cadmium.

The problem

The wires in the game consoles in over 1.3 million boxes worth $160 million had low but unacceptable levels of this toxic metal. They rushed to replace the wires but missed the Christmas sales.

The cost

Asides from losing sales to the tune of $160 million, they invested 18 months in the investigation of 6000 factories to trace the source of the error. Taking it further, they lost man-hours and raw materials. No business has to go through all of this when issues like this can be prevented from occurring at all.

The lessons.

  1. The best companies can have environmental issues.
  2. Environmental issues become social issues (they affect people too).
  3. These issues can cost real money.

So what can be done to prevent similar occurrences?

It is important to understand that everything that is material to business operations has to be handled with the highest level of seriousness. It is also important to get out of the mindset that a business exists solely to give maximum returns on invested financial capital.

These said, would you still leave everything to chance?

The future would not sort itself, you will sort it out with what you do today.

Take charge of tomorrow, develop a culture around foresight today!

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