History shows us that we only achieve meaningful, lasting change through teamwork -- everyone in the trenches working together for transformation. That kind of joint effort is required to address the vexing problems of economy, energy security and the environment. Sustainability is larger than the business community and cannot be achieved with an “us versus them” mentality.
What do I mean by this? Sustainability is not just about business having to take actions to reduce their own environmental footprint. It goes beyond a “Not in my backyard” attitude when renewable energy projects are proposed, sited and, more often than not, opposed. Nor is it about government overlaying multiple regulations that, in essence, do the same things in different ways – but with significant complexity, impacts and costs.
Sustainability requires governments, businesses and citizens to work collaboratively to become more efficient, develop new, “greener” technologies that are economically viable, and use these new innovations across our society.
In March, I spoke at a summit for The Economist magazine, titled The 2009 Sustainability Summit – The New Climate: Global Warming and Its Implications for Corporate Strategy. This is a big title for a big societal challenge. I was particularly struck by the idea of identifying an innovation that could result in big environmental benefits.
Among its many sustainability efforts, Procter & Gamble has conducted life-cycle analyses on their products. They found their biggest environmental impact from energy usage was not related to their product manufacturing, materials, transportation of materials or products, or material disposal. The biggest impact was from the use of their laundry products in homes, primarily from the energy used to heat water. So, in an effort to address this problem, they developed a new product, Tide Cold Water. P&G calculated that washing laundry in cold water in every U.S. household would save 70 to 90 billion kilowatt-hours of energy every year – that’s 3% of the nation’s total household energy consumption, equating to a reduction of 34 million tons of carbon dioxide annually.
They also calculated the average consumer would save $63 a year on their utility bills. All of these numbers add up to a significant savings. And, importantly, they’re all trending the right way – reduced energy usage and environmental impact, reduced costs for consumers, and increased product sales potential for P&G. A “win-win-win” – which is invariably better than “win-lose” scenarios that inevitably result from “us versus them” strategies.
At FedEx, we’ve implemented many solar-energy systems to reduce energy consumption at our facilities. We’re proud of that. But we know sustainability depends on teamwork, so we’ve also developed projects and alliances with other businesses, governments, and organizations to promote sustainability based on a “win-win” philosophy. Here are just a few examples:
- In 2005, FedEx Express teamed up with the Environmental Defense Fund to pioneer commercial hybrid electric vehicles. More than 50 companies have followed our lead.
- We’re founding members of The Green Power Market Development Group — a collaboration of 12 leading corporations and the World Resources Institute -- dedicated to building corporate markets for 1,000 megawatts of new, cost-competitive green power by 2010.
- We provide shipping services that make it easier for customers to recycle. For example, FedEx Ground provides a service to fluorescent lamp recyclers to help keep mercury out of our nation’s waste streams. At numerous FedEx Office locations, we collect printer cartridges from work and homes. We then donate the rebate for the recycled cartridges to Keystone Science School, which runs environmental education classes for children and adults.
For more insights on sustainability, visit the FedEx Citizenship blog at blog.fedex.com.
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