The impacts of climate change are sweeping; it is at least partly to blame for everything from rising temperatures to longer allergy seasons. Because climate change will have such a significant impact, companies understand they must adapt to a world that is changing both scientifically and politically.
However, these changes are about more than just appeasing the environmentalists. In many cases, solutions that reduce environmental impact can also save more or even increase profit margins. That is especially true as the price of renewables continues to decline. Indeed, the price of battery storage has dropped significantly, as has the cost of solar panels and wind power.
Thus, going green is about more than just warm, fuzzy feelings. The companies mentioned in this gallery are doing more to go green, and they are improving their businesses overall in the process. Let’s take a look at our list of the companies that are doing more to try to go green.
You might have noticed the “carbon neutral since 2007” message at the bottom of Google’s homepage. That message is also a link that takes you to a page that talks all about the company’s commitments. In addition to being carbon neutral since 2007, it plans to be carbon-free by 2030.
Of going green, Google says, “It’s our responsibility – and it’s also the best way to innovate, iterate, and share best practices with others.” In addition to improving its ability to innovate, a more tangible economic benefit is a 30% energy savings to cooling systems in its most energy-intense buildings.
Apple is making a commitment to being carbon neutral by 2030. In fact, the entire lifecycle will be carbon neutral, from the design all the way to the recycling of used devices. Its website also highlights the intersection of climate change and social justice, sometimes referred to as climate justice. Apple also has initiatives that increase the energy efficiency of its devices.
In a slightly contentious move, Apple stopped shipping charging blocks with new devices; this had the environmental impact of reducing the use of precious metals contained in chargers. However, it also allows Apple to increase its output because it can now ship up to 70% more iPhones per shipping pallet.
Amazon’s business is not inherently sustainable, to say the least. All of the packaging and shipping can create a lot of waste — and a big carbon footprint. As a result, Amazon is taking steps to reduce its environmental impact. It has already ordered 100,000 electric vehicles from electric vehicle maker Rivian. While cost figures are not disclosed on these vehicles, electric vehicles are cheaper to run and maintain than internal combustion vehicles. Thus, it will save money while cutting emissions. Jeff Bezos also announced the Bezos Earth Fund in 2020. The fund will invest $10 billion in fighting climate change plus an additional $1 billion per year, showing a clear commitment to fighting climate change.
As a shipping company, UPS is a bit of a low-hanging fruit. We all see its signature brown trucks with gold lettering, pumping carbon into the atmosphere all the while. However, UPS has begun to address this concern; it ordered 10,000 electric delivery trucks from Arrival to be deployed in North America and Europe. If all goes well, it may purchase 10,000 additional vehicles.
Other initiatives UPS is taking on to reduce its environmental impact include route optimization, green building certifications and carbon-efficient modes of transportation. These changes will increase efficiency and make its delivery operations cheaper, thus resulting in cost savings.
General Motors made waves when it announced that its entire fleet of vehicles would be all-electric by 2035. GM’s all-electric vision is an ambitious one. After all, while GM has had modest success with electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids such as the Chevy Bolt and Volt, these have been niche vehicles in the U.S. market.
GM has announced upcoming electric vehicles such as the Cadillac Lyriq. The move makes it clear that GM sees electric vehicles as the future. Thus, it will realize an enormous reduction in environmental impact while giving the company a competitive edge over automakers that have been slower to adapt.
The rise of so-called “fast fashion” — buying clothing only to discard it shortly thereafter — has greatly increased the environmental impact of the clothing industry. Not only that, but it also increases abusive labor practices. Patagonia understands this and is determined to help stem the tide. It uses a large portion of recycled materials, including 64% of its fabrics are made from recycled materials. It also grows cotton organically, which reduces carbon emissions and water consumption by 90%. Other key initiatives include its Worn Wear program, which sells used inventory to reduce waste. It also repairs used clothing.
BlackRock is the world’s largest asset manager with $8.68 trillion in assets under management as of December 2020. BlackRock sees the writing on the wall; it knows that sustainable investment is the future of the industry. Therefore, it is pushing CEOs to be more sustainable in their operations. If you visit the company’s website, you will see sustainable investing front and center. In his letter to CEOs, BlackRock CEO Larry Find said, “The world is moving to net zero, and BlackRock believes that our clients are best served by being at the forefront of that transition. We are carbon neutral today in our own operations and are committed to supporting the goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 or sooner.”
Salesforce, known for its customer relationship management platform, is taking sustainability seriously. Its vision is one of 100% renewable energy powering its global operations. It is also pursuing green building certifications such as LEED. Achieving 100% renewable energy has been a challenge for Salesforce because it uses cloud computing for its platform-as-a-service (PaaS) solution.
Still, it became one of the first companies to power all of its data centers with renewable energy in 2013, and in 2015 expanded that commitment worldwide. Another important part of Salesforce’s sustainability initiatives is its equality initiatives which focus on diversity and inclusion.
Starbucks recently announced specific initiatives that would help the company reduce its environmental impact. Among those initiatives are carbon neutral, green coffee and a 50% reduction in water usage by 2030. The company is also aiming to reduce carbon and water footprints during the process of growing coffee beans. And with its Greener Stores initiative, the company plans to make its stores greener by 2025. These so-called greener stores will use 30% less water and 25% less energy, resulting in a cost savings of $50 million over the next 10 years.
Aldi took a big step toward becoming more sustainable when it announced that 100% of its packaging would be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. The same announcement included a reduction of packaging material across its entire product line of at least 15%. In the meantime, it is doing what it can to reduce waste; in 2018, the grocery chain recycled more than 270,800 tons of material.
It also uses ammonia in all of its refrigeration systems; ammonia is a natural refrigerant, unlike the HFCs still used in grocery stores across the country. The latter is a powerful greenhouse gases and big contributors to climate change. Compared to older CFC systems, ammonia-based systems are 10%-20% cheaper to build and 3%-10% more energy efficient.
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