Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sustainable Successes and Failures

When it comes to sustainability the right vision and effective execution can help companies compete and emerge as winners. Inadequate sustainability efforts can profoundly undermine a company’s ability to survive. Some once great companies have watched their iconic brands crumble due to their failure to proactively adapt to emerging megatrends. GM and Kodak are but two examples.

Many companies around the world now have a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) including AT&T (U.S.), SAP (Germany), and LoyaltyOne (Canada).

Forward looking companies are already benefiting from their sustainable positioning. By focusing on outperforming competitors on regulatory compliance 3M’s Pollution Prevention Pays reduced pollutants by more than 2.6 billion pounds and saved the company more than $1 billion.

DuPont understands that environmental risks outweigh potential earnings. That is why under a zero waste commitment, Dupont has opted to divest itself of its holdings that have big eco-footprints such as nylon and carpets.

Dow’s 2015 Sustainability Goals yielded new products in areas from solar roof shingles to hybrid batteries. Its core business, which had traditionally relied on commodity chemicals, has shifted toward advanced materials and high-tech energy opportunities.

IBM uses their environmental management system as the foundation for policy deployment, practice management, goal setting, decision making, and data capture.

Although some companies have made valiant efforts, this does not preclude room for improvement. Walmart has 38 sustainability goals and earlier this month they released their third sustainability report. Walmart's new climate goal is to reduce 20 million metric tons of carbon pollution from its products’ lifecycle and supply chain over the next five years. However, Walmart still needs to focus on avoiding waste and they need to define the way they measure progress on packaging.

Pioneering companies are already reaping the rewards of their sustainable efforts and a growing number of businesses are realizing that success in sustainable positioning comes from greater competitiveness and cost savings.
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The 2010 World Energy Technologies Summit
America's Most Sustainable Businesses
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A Sustainable World Order

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