SustainabilitySustainability is everyone’s business. Whether it’s through minimizing operational impact on the environment, aligning with ever-evolving regulations or supporting a more sustainable world, the equipment manufacturing industry’s future depends on the responsible use of natural resources.

AEM is committed to increasing education, adoption and action around sustainability, particularly within the supply chain. As part of that commitment, the association and its member-driven Sustainability Council have established three goals to drive their efforts for the remainder of 2023. The goals – building alignment, growing supply chain success and powering positive sustainability perception – will help AEM and its Sustainability Council spark ideas to set sustainability priorities for equipment manufacturers and provide a framework that supports best practices for a more viable world.

“We recognize our industry’s connection to the natural environment and the need to minimize our operational and value chain impact,” said Kim Noe, program manager, sustainability, for AEM member company John Deere and Chair of AEM’s Sustainability Council. “Interest in sustainability continues to grow with time, and we believe sustainability serves as an opportunity for our members and our industry to truly make a difference in the world.”

Starting the Conversation

No two AEM member companies are at the same point in their respective sustainability journey. So, as part of AEM’s 125-plus-year commitment to advancing societal and safety issues on behalf of the industry, AEM established the Sustainability Council in 2020. Comprised of sustainability leaders from AEM member companies, the council’s earliest work focused on identifying seven of the 17 United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals to be priorities for the association and its member companies. In addition, the council tasked itself with telling the equipment manufacturing industry’s story and examining sustainability issues both at the OEM level and within supply chains.

As part of that ongoing work, the council established a Sustainability Maturity Model to guide organizations as they assess where they are in their sustainability journeys and try to work toward driving positive results.

“The maturity model really comes down to four different phases – compliance, efficiency, leadership and purpose,” said Noe. “Who owns sustainability, how certain metrics are measured, what activities are being undertaken and how big an organization’s reach is, are key pieces of those phases. Ultimately, it sets the stage for how we start to talk about sustainability. Because, as we see it, there’s a balance in terms of ensuring certain information is good and meaningful, especially because of the wide range of maturity that exists among organizations.”

Once the maturity model was established, the council gathered additional tools, resources and information and developed a Sustainability Toolkit, which serves to help equipment manufacturers and suppliers identify areas for improvement, align with regulations and support a more sustainable world.

“Not only does the toolkit help organizations navigate through the maturity model, but it also helps companies understand where they sit today and what they should be working on next,” said Noe.

Charting a Course

Now having aligned on SDGs, established the maturity model and developed the toolkit, AEM and its Sustainability Council are firmly committed to making substantial progress on their three main goals for this year:

Building alignment. – Efforts will focus on driving consistency within the industry, to ensure organizations are gathering the right data with similar methodologies and reporting the same metrics. Currently, no standard protocol for reporting exists, and organizations aren’t consistently measuring the same things as their peers. And while certain regulations aren’t yet in place that require certain data to be measured and reported to ensure compliance, they’re firmly on the horizon. So, the more that’s done to ensure industry peers can get aligned with one another sooner rather than later, the better off equipment manufacturing will be in the long term.

Growing supply chain success. – The council will work to refine the existing toolkit and promote it more as a means to positively impact supply chain sustainability in the industry. More specifically, efforts will center on reducing the quantity of sustainability requests between OEMs and tier 1 suppliers, as well as tier 2 and tier 3 suppliers.

Powering positive sustainability perception. Strategies and tactics related to sustainability will be communicated with AEM members and beyond. In addition, tools, resources and information will be amplified to help organizations continue to advance along their own respective sustainability journeys.

Increasing Engagement

According to Noe, there’s no better time than right now for AEM members to engage the association and its Sustainability Council to learn how to best protect the environment and society, align with evolving regulations, accelerate their ability to remain competitive and ensure they can continue to sell their products globally.

“It’s really all about managing your risks and opportunities. But it’s also the right thing to do,” she said. “We need to take care of the generations that come after us. And the way to do that is not just make money, but also taking care of the environment and people.”

With that being said, Noe encouraged interested individuals within AEM member companies to take the following steps to support AEM’s commitment to sustainability:

  • Sign up and engage with the Sustainability Toolkit
  • Join the Sustainability Council and make their voice heard
  • Reach out with questions, feedback, concerns and ideas

“Sustainability has really evolved into more than risk mitigation, and there’s just so much opportunity out there for AEM members to think about sustainability in a different way,” said Noe. “And we all have an incredibly unique story to tell. Now it’s just a matter of going out as an industry and sharing that story with the rest of the world.”

For more information on AEM’s commitment to sustainability and the work of the association’s Sustainability Council, contact AEM’s Julie Davis at

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