Big companies are discovering that going green does not just mean saving trees, but dollar bills, too. By becoming more sustainable, they are increasingly cutting costs and having a positive social impact.
Snack company Frito-Lay has recently unveiled one of the greenest manufacturing facilities in the U.S., called the Near Net Zero Facility. Senior Director of Sustainability Al Halverson, who headed the company's green effort, told The Huffington Post that the company spent 10 years reducing the environmental footprint at their 27-year-old building in Casa Grande, Ariz.
The company reduced 50 percent of its greenhouse gases so far as it works toward taking their production facility "off the grid."
Halverson said the company has almost reached all of its goals. "We are running the plant on landfill gas. We are burning wood waste in order to generate steam. We send less than one percent of waste to landfills. ... We are looking at upgrading our truck fleet. We have two electric trucks currently delivering locally."
Where it is economically viable, the company is looking to use this new building as a learning platform for introducing green practices to their other 36 plants around the country.
Phillips Lighting has also been working on sustainable projects, and received the 2011 Leader of Change Award by the Foundation for Social Change and the United Nations Office for Partnerships.
Harry Verhaar, senior director of Energy and Climate Change at Philips, told HuffPost that Philips Lighting, which makes use of LED technology in their products, was surprised and honored to receive the award.
"For about eight years, global warming has become a more prominent issue in the business sector. We've highlighted how relevant lighting is, since it contributes to 19 percent of global electricity and nine percent of global energy consumption," Verhaar said.
"In making lighting more efficient, we save money, we make an ecological contribution by preventing environmental degradation and carbon emissions and it also has social benefits. For example, we've found lighting improves the effectiveness in schools. So schools can reduce their energy bills, but mostly their learning effectiveness is improved and that is what schooling is all about," he said.
Philips Lighting North America CEO Zia Eftekhar added, "Much of this evolution process was the economic aspect -- to save money. By saving energy, the next aspect became the social consciousness and the environment. The most consequential part of that is what is the impact on lifestyle. For example, the city of Boston has gone through a whole change of their old technologies that brings in better visibility at night. So it isn't just saving energy, it is enhancing safety and comfort."
While some companies are making an effort to go green, a new tendency is emerging where companies "greenwash" consumers by claiming they are sustainable when they are not. The Nature Conservancy Chief External Affairs Officer Glenn Pickett told HuffPost there is an advantage for companies to increase their environmental performance, because it can save them money and win business as people become more inclined to buy green products, but some companies may not always follow through with their green claims.
He said transparency is key for consumers wanting to avoid being deceived, and used the work the Nature Conservancy was doing with DOW Chemical company as an example. "We're looking at opportunities for the company to see conserving nature as good for the environment and for their bottom line. And this will become more transparent as we work more on the project."
Dr. M. Sanjayan, lead scientist at the Nature Conservancy, added in an email to HuffPost that it is hard to pinpoint exactly what greenwashing looks like. "Labels are one obvious area," Sanjayan explained. "So when you see all these labels on consumer products and particular food products that claim green credentials or the word '100 percent biodegradable' on plastics -- where it takes say 100 years in full sunlight for that to actually happen."
Topping the 2011 Global 100 list for the most sustainable corporations in the world is energy company Statoil ASA in Norway. The list ranks corporations based on which has been the most proactive in managing environmental, social and governance issues.
Check out the slideshow below of some companies that say they are going green:
Frito-Lay Senior Director of Environmental Sustainability Al Halvorsen highlights one of five solar installations at the company's Near Net Zero facility in Casa Grande, Arizona.
Philips Lighting has received the 2011 Leader of Change Award by the Foundation for Social Change and the United Nations Office for Partnerships, for its development of sustainable technologies and innovative lighting including light-emitting diode (LED). Harry Verhaar, Senior Director of Energy and Climate Change at Philips Lighting told HuffPost: "more and more we see a shift to LEDs - people talk about a shift to energy saving and showing social benefits through LEDs. This is through versatility and dynamics because you can do things that are unprecedented and wouldn't have thought of before. LEDs will help more with office, retail, in cities, at home. By making people feel better and more comfortable."
AsiaOne News reported Asia Pacific Breweries who own brands Tiger and Heineken have saved $25,000 anually and reduced their wastes by making their aluminum cans thinner. "Green efforts must make economic sense to businesses for them to be sustainable, Dr Balakrishnan said at the Regional 3R Forum in Asia at Sheraton Towers," according to AsiaOne News. "'Aluminium prices are rising, so it makes sense to cut costs while saving the environment,' said Mr Shue Toh Ting, APB's efficiency controller."
In response to a GreenPeace campaign, Toy giant Mattel, famous for producing Barbie, has ditched Asia Pulp and Paper because it is linked to deforestation in Indonesia, according to HuffPost. Mattel has also adopted Sustainable Sourcing Principles. "By 2015 our goal is to have 85% of our packing be made from recycled material or certified fiber," said Kathleen Shaver, Mattel's Corporate Responsibility Director in a video statement, according to the report.
The first sustainability report in the solar industry has been released bySunPower Corporation, Sustainable Business reported. The article says "Perhaps, because solar is considered a "clean" industry, companies don't feel the necessity produce such a report. The electricity from solar is clean, but the processes and some materials needed to produce it, aren't. We recently saw evidence of this when protests followed when Jinko Solar dumped hazardous waste into a river. And solar manufacturing is quite water intensive." NRG Energy Inc. recently purchased SunPower Corp.'s 250-megawatt (MW) solar project set to be able to power 100,000 homes and be one of the biggest photovoltaic (PV) solar power plants in the world, according to Zacks. The plant is located in Southern California and is expected to be completed by early 2012.
Signatory to the Singapore Packaging Agreement, a five-year program started in 2007 to reduce waste, Nestle Singapore made its Milo-powder packages shorter and now saves around 30 tons of plastic laminate material annually, according to Eco-Business.com. The food giant is among 21 firms, including Asia Pacific Breweries, who received a 3R Packaging Award on Wednesday, October 6.
U.S. based company Intel Corp ranked sixth on the 2011 Global 100 List of most sustainable corporations in the world. The company's website writes that they are "the largest voluntary purchaser of green power in the US (according to the US Environmental Protection Agency)." On water conservation Intel Corp says: "We recognize that water is an important resource and is crucial to our manufacturing process, so we've invested more than USD 100 million in conservation programs since 1998. This helped us save more than 40 billion gallons of water over this time period--enough to fill more than 60,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools."
Denmark-based biotechnology development company Novozymes ranked third in the 2011 Global 100 List of the most sustainable corporations in the world. The company's website writes: "Novozymes (has a) vision of a future where the company´s biological solutions create the necessary balance between better business, cleaner environment and better lives. Sustainability is a significant lever in growing its business, as Novozymes' enzyme and microorganism products are the key building blocks for new technologies and products that can fundamentally redesign how we use the world's resources."
Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology company Johnson & Johnson ranked second on the 2011 Global 100 List of the most sustainable corporations in the world. In an interview with Anna Clarke on GreenBiz.com Al Iannuzzi, senior director of Worldwide Health & Safety said: "We put out new sustainability goals every five years. In fact, we've had sustainability goals in place since the early '90s. But the greatest driving force really ties back to our Credo, the backbone of our EHS processes and everything we do: We are to be good stewards and to protect the environment and be a good corporate citizen. Our largest sector is medical devices and diagnostics; health and sustainability are a natural fit." He added: "Also, Wal-Mart is our largest customer in the world. Their focus on sustainability helps to reinforce the importance of our initiatives to our business. This same idea is cropping up with our medical products customers as well. Hospitals are focusing more on sustainability because they run 24/7 and produce a constant stream of waste. Sustainability can help them reduce their footprint as well as their operating costs."
Norwegian energy company Statoil topped the 2011 Global 100 List of the most sustainable corporations in the world. Matter Network reported: "It seems Statoil's position was buoyed by its performance in the social and governance categories. Statoil ranked second overall in percentage of female board of directors. Statoil also performed well because environmental performance is measured in terms of natural resource consumed or waste expelled per $ of output. Therefore, despite the fact Statoil makes money by developing oil and gas, which is unsustainable by definition, this methodology does not penalize Statoil's sustainability rating."