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ERA's Environmental Compliance Management Blog

Corporate Social Responsibility & Waste Reporting: Your Weekend Reads

Posted by Alex Chamberlain

Alex Chamberlain is a writer for ERA Environmental Management Solutions.

CSR and Waste management reads for the weekendToday we're sharing two important weekend reads that have just been shared over on the Environmental Leader website. The first one is GM's downloadable guide "The Business Case for Zero Waste", and the second one is the 2012 Cone Communications Coroprate Social Return Trend Tracker report which focuses on the growing importance of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) reporting. Both are definitely worth reading and will help you tackle two of the biggest EH&S challenges facing businesses seeking to take things a step further.

Now, if that sounds like homework to you, here's some motivation straight from Environmental Leader:

"For example, in 2005 when GM started its pursuit of landfill-free facilities in the US, it invested about $10 for every ton of waste reduced. GM has cut its program costs by 92 percent and reduced total waste by 62 percent.
 
The company generated $2.5 billion in revenue between 2007 and 2010 through recycling activities. GM estimates its annual byproduct recycling and reuse revenue is now about $1 billion a year."

And...

"Some 86 percent of consumers are more likely to trust a company that reports its CSR results, and 82 percent say they are more likely to purchase a product that clearly demonstrates the results of the company’s CSR initiatives than one that does not, according to the report."

Those are some powerful numbers and they speak volumes toward the potential type of growth and revenue you could expect to see. Of course, that doesn't mean it won't require your fair share of hard work.

For example, GM began its Landfill-Free manufacturing project in the U.S in 2005, and it is now just ready to publish its results. But what that really indicates is that today is the best time to get started.

GM says that it went through 9 stages to switch more than half of its plants to landfill-free facilities, all of which can be applied to your own facility. While you should download the offical GM document, here are some of the most important steps they took:

Track Your Waste Data

Naturally, you can't manage your waste if you aren't measuring it and tracking it throughout your facility. You'll need to know where waste is being generated and how it's being treated.

Engage in Waste-Reduction Activities

If you want to get to zero waste, you'll need to start reducing the waste you produce. GM's main approach, and one that has proved invaluable for other industries is to find a way to recycle or reuse all waste gnerated on site. We also recommend using the Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) strategy to find products that will generate less waste in the first place, which will make waste-reduction projects easier and less expensive.  

Engage Employees and Make Sustainability a Value

GM encourages waste-reduction planning by offering rewards for successful waste-reduction ideas. Even if your business isn't capable of offering this type of incentive to employees, it's still essential to engage employees in the entire EH&S project cycle. We suggest that you find a shop-level environmental champion who is passionate enough about green projects to help build a culture of sustainability. 

Strengthen Supplier Partnerships

Getting to a zero landfill status will require you to take greater control of your entire supply chain and to work with all your vendors and other partners to find solutions that reduce everybody's waste generation across the entire chain. ERA has worked with many businesses in different industries to help them improve communication with their chemical and product vendors. We believe that amazing data sharing across the supply chain is the key to efficient and cost-effective environmental management, so we definitely agree with GM on this issue.

You can find the Downloadable Readings Here:

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ERA Environmental Alex

About the Author: Alex Chamberlain is a writer and blogger who regularly contributes to ERA Environmental Management Solutions' blog. You can find Alex on Google+LinkedIn & ERA's Environmental Compliance Blog

Topics: Sustainability, Environmental Compliance & Data Management