Module 2: The Triple Bottom Line - Environmental Impact | en - 926 - 58558
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Environmental Impact

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The Triple Bottom Line

Environmental Impact

Environmental Impact Defined
The second dimension of a sustainable business is its contribution to preserving environmental quality; commonly referred to as environmental impact. Numerous examples exist of companies reducing environmental costs while simultaneously improving company performance and profitability. The environmental impact of a business’s operations is viewed both internally and externally. The business that focuses exclusively on its environmental impact, rather than focusing on the triple bottom line emphasis of a sustainable business, is referred to as a green business.

Environmental Impact

Internal
Internally, the environmental impact of a business often refers to practices related to use of natural resources, waste, toxicity, and pollution. For manufacturing companies, the environmental impact can be large and efforts are generally made to reduce waste, toxicity, and pollution within the manufacturing process.
For service companies, the environmental impact is smaller but should not be overlooked.

Possible Impact

Consider the amount of waste the company pays to have removed; chemicals used that eventually find their way into the air, water, or ground (such as cleaning compounds, fertilizers, weed killers, and many others); and pollution created by energy usage, employee commutes, or business travel.

Environmental Impact

Recycling
Recycling programs are often part of a sustainable business’s efforts to reduce waste and toxicity. Sustainable companies consider both the purchase of recycled items for office supplies, furniture, and other needs, as well as recycling or donating its own unwanted items. While most companies or offices may already recycle paper, aluminum cans, and plastic bottles, there is little that cannot be recycled today.
Many restaurants recycle used grease through companies that purchase “yellow grease.” Companies can also recycle office furniture and equipment through donations to charitable giving programs at schools and other nonprofits. Numerous options exist to recycle or donate electronics.

Recycling Materials
Clever artists and designers make purses and handbags from recycled soda pop tabs, newspapers, tires, potato chip bags, barcodes, candy wrappers, juice pouches, rice bags, and more.

Environmental Impact

External
Externally, the sustainable business also considers the environmental impact of suppliers in terms of services and products as well as transportation of goods. A sustainable business will seek out suppliers of services and products that are environmentally friendly. This results in the purchase of products that produce less waste, are less toxic, and generated the least amount of pollution in manufacturing and transportation. Sustainable businesses opt for local suppliers, when possible, in order to reduce the environmental impact caused through the transportation of goods.

Environmental Impact

Policy
Additionally, many sustainable businesses create a green procurement policy, or environmentally preferred purchasing policy, as an integral part of their operations to give preferential purchasing to products and services that are most environmentally friendly. An environmentally preferred purchasing policy would cover all types of products and services purchased by the organization.

As with other attempts to reduce environmental impact, a move toward green procurement can offer cost savings for the sustainable business.

Little Rock Athletic Club
Little Rock Athletic Club discovered that if it made the switch to recycled copy paper, the company could achieve a 10% cost savings, 13% fewer carbon dioxide emissions, and 35% fewer trees used when compared to the previous paper products.

Water Usage

When a sustainable business considers water usage-often referred to as a water footprint-it is seeking ways to become more efficient by reducing its use of fresh water or increasing its recycle rate for water.

For example, some businesses have collected water from sink, water fountain, shower, dishwasher, and washing machine drains (collectively referred to as greywater systems) or installed rainwater collection systems to recycle water for use in landscaping, decorative water features, and to flush toilets.

Energy Usage
When a sustainable business considers energy usage (often referred to as a carbon footprint or energy audit), it is seeking ways to become more efficient and reduce its energy usage. Through an energy audit, many companies have identified sources of wasted energy and accompanying opportunities to become more energy efficient.
For example, in the past, landfills often burned off methane generated from decaying waste. Technologies now allow landfills to cap the methane and use it as a renewable energy source.
As a result of the large energy usage and subsequently large carbon emissions (or carbon footprints), many businesses are actively engaged in finding ways to reduce carbon emissions by becoming more energy efficient.
The reduction of carbon emissions, or a reduction of the business’s carbon footprint, is particularly appealing to businesses today partly because of the possibility of a future carbon tax and the growing carbon trade market.

Environmental Impact

Reducing Your Environmental Impact
Here are some steps that your office can take to reduce your environmental impact (and save money!):

1 Use e-mail instead of paper
2 Print and copy on both sides of the paper.
3 Buy recycled paper with the highest percentage of recycled content.
4 Use environmentally friendly cleaning supplies and detergents.
5 Unplug items not in use or not used frequently
6 Purchase refillable office products (cartiridges, pens, etc)
7 Switch to a green hosting service for your Web site
8 Report and repair water drips and leaks immediately
9 Start a vanpool or carpool program
10 Create a green team to continue the work toward greening your office or workplace.

Click on the buttons below for some tips for the business that wants to start the journey toward green but does not have the funds to implement big changes. All the tips are free to implement but require a change in behavior away from current practices.

1. Office paper:
Switch from 100% virgin fiber paper products to recycled paper products. For example, Barakovic et al recently compared a business’s current office and copier paper purchases to recycled office and copier paper.[1] The final combination of paper choices recommended to the client represented a 10% cost savings, 13% fewer carbon dioxide emissions, and 35% fewer trees used when compared to their previous product. Other recycled paper products to consider are file folders, hanging file folders, notebook pads, binders, calendars, posters, envelopes, business cards, letterhead, forms, self-stick notes, and anything else made from paper!
Savings: cost reductions, carbon dioxide emissions reductions (carbon dioxide emissions contribute to climate change), and fewer trees used.


2. Hand towels:
Switch from 100% virgin fiber hand towels to recycled content hand towels. In a recent comparison for a client, Barakovic et al were able to identify 100% recycled hand towels that represented a 2% cost savings over their current product.[1]
Savings: cost reductions, carbon dioxide emissions reductions, and fewer trees used.

3. Toilet tissue:
Switch from 100% virgin fiber bath tissue to recycled content bath tissue. In a recent comparison for a client, Barakovic et al were able to identify 100% recycled bath tissue that represented a 46% savings over their current product.[1]
Savings: cost reductions, carbon dioxide emissions reductions, and fewer trees used.

4. Napkins:
Switch from 100% virgin fiber napkins to recycled content napkins. In a recent comparison for a client, Barakovic et al were able to identify 100% recycled napkins that represented a 10% cost savings over their current product.[1]
Savings: cost reductions, carbon dioxide emissions reductions, and fewer trees used.

5. Facial tissue:
Switch from 100% virgin fiber tissues to recycled content tissues. In a recent comparison for a client, Barakovic et al were able to identify 100% recycled tissues that represented a 4% cost savings over their current product.[1]
Savings: cost reductions, carbon dioxide emissions reductions, and fewer trees used.


6. Lighting:
Turn off lights when not in use, and when replacing, use more energy-efficient lighting, such as compact fluorescent bulbs or LED lighting.
Savings: can help reduce energy bills.


7. Electronics and office equipment:
Turn off when not in use, and when purchasing, make sure it is ENERGY STAR certified. Dispose of old electronics through a recycling program (most cities will take old electronics for recycling). Old office electronics, furniture, and equipment can also go to donation programs through public schools, Habitat for Humanity ReStore, or other worthy causes.
Savings: can help reduce energy bills, can reduce the amount of waste you pay to have removed, and will keep dangerous chemicals out of landfills.

8. Recycling:
Check with your city sanitation department (or check the Earth911 search engine) to see what can be recycled and where it can be recycled. Common items for recycling include aluminum cans, glass, paper, plastic (including plastic bags), cardboard, Styrofoam packaging (Styrofoam food containers are not often recycled), electronics, cooking oil or grease, printer and ink-jet cartridges, and many other items.
Savings: can reduce the amount of waste you pay to have removed.


9. Employee coffee mugs or drink cups:
Encourage employees to bring reusable coffee mugs or drink cups (and plates and utensils) rather than using disposables.
Savings: can reduce the number of disposable items you purchase and can reduce the amount of waste you pay to have removed.


10. Office supplies:
Use recyclable or refillable items, such as printer cartridges, pens, CD and DVD disks, batteries, and other products.
Savings: can help reduce the amount of office items needing replacement and can reduce the amount of waste you pay to have removed.

11. Printing and copying:
For printing, begin by resetting the default font size on all computers to 10 or 11, if feasible, and resetting the default margin to 0.8 or 0.9. Use your computer and e-mail program as your filing system rather than printing hard copies. Use a printer management software program, such as GreenPrint or PaperCut, that will alert you to wasted paper (such as printing a sheet with one or two lines). Learn to use online forms and PDF files. Next time you send out a printing job, select a green printing company. For copying, change the default settings on the copy machine from one-sided to two-sided copies.
Savings: Can reduce the amount of paper you buy, can reduce the amount of waste you pay to have removed, and can reduce your company’s carbon emissions.

12. Cleaning supplies:
Use green cleaning products or a green cleaning service.
Savings: there may not be any financial savings here, but you are taking steps toward healthier indoor air quality, and your cleaning methods will be releasing fewer toxins into the environment.

13. Web site:
Switch to a green or carbon neutral Web host provider. There are many Web host providers available that are competitively priced.
Savings: cost savings and reduced carbon emissions.

14. Promotional products:
Next time you purchase promotional products for your business, select those that are environmentally friendly, are made from recycled material, can be recycled, or those that are all three of these criteria, such as SIGG water bottles.
Savings: there may not be any financial savings here, but you are taking steps toward being environmentally friendly and communicating that message to your customers.

15. Green team:
Establish a green team of employees who are interested in helping your business become more environmentally friendly. The green team’s focus should be twofold: identifying additional ways to make your business more environmentally friendly and educating employees, customers, and suppliers on the importance of being environmentally friendly as well as communicating the business efforts and accomplishments in this arena.













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