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The Role of Continuous Improvement in Environmental Responsibility

Posted by Matt Banna

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Jul 14, 2016 7:00:00 AM

Smoke StacksReducing environmental waste and shrinking a company’s carbon footprint are not easy tasks. Nonetheless, environmental improvements are critical to a company’s growth and strategic expansion. The benefits of being “environmentally friendly” reach beyond simple governmental compliance or public perception.

While cutting carbon emissions could enable the company to qualify for tax breaks or the reduction of product packaging could have a direct financial impact for the organization, the qualitative benefits of becoming an environmentally-focused company are easily overlooked.

Qualitative factors influenced by environmental responsibility like employee satisfaction, employee health, or worker education go a long way not only in building brand equity, but also in providing technology companies with an competitive edge when it comes to recruiting or building a talented workforce.


Embracing Accountability

The increase in size, scale, and reach of companies with employees spanning across the world creates greater scrutiny and a need for greater transparency and accountability of their waste, environmental impact, treatment of workers and that of their suppliers. Companies can choose to lag behind on these improvement areas and wait for consumers, employees, or governmental regulations to push them into change OR they can take a proactive approach and demonstrate their leadership around environmental concerns, like these three big names:

Apple

Since 2007, Apple has been publishing reports on Accountability, Labor and Human Rights, Empowering Workers, and Environment, Health, and Safety. These reports demonstrate Apple’s commitment to continuous improvement in these areas. These improvements not only provide transparency into Apple’s environmental responsibility practices, but they also help contribute to a growing industry standard on environmental responsibility.  Countless examples of Apple’s commitment to environmental improvement can be found throughout these reports. One example is that Apple has replaced faulty parts and newer updated technology to redirect heat waste saved 13,800 metric tons of carbon emissions at 13 sites. Additionally, since implementation of a waste diversion program in 2015 “to help suppliers reduce, reuse and recycle,” Apple states that their facilities have reduced their waste by over 70,000 metric tons. For more information of their environmental improvements, check out the 2016 report.


IBM

IBM is another major technology company that publishes Corporate Social Responsibility reports. Also publishing since 2007, IBM divides their work into Communities, The IBMer, Environment, Supply Chain and Governance.  In 2014, 17.1% of the plastics used in IBM products used resins that contained at least 50% recycled content. Additionally, in 2014 IBM saved 6.7% of their energy use through energy conservation projects. Lastly, they were able to recover and recycle 86% of their recyclable waste. IBM made countless other improvements to their company to reduce environmental impact.

Google

A third major technology and software company that publishes Corporate Social Responsibility reports is Google. Google goes to great lengths to make themselves a greener company and  shrink their environmental impact. They have categorized these efforts into improvements in their data centers, using renewable energy as their main power sources, reducing the environmental impacts of their campuses. Additionally, they reducing their footprints through increased efficiency and green energy, investing in renewable energy projects, and creating products that use comparatively less energy than their competitors. While Apple and IBM have published their reports since 2007, Google notes that they have been carbon-neutral since 2007! Their data centers use 50% less power than the average data centers and removed 5,700 cars off the road through their commuting shuttles and a corporate electric car sharing program. Read about their efforts here.


Difficulty in the Process

Eliciting and keeping track of environmental improvements is a difficult process. So is refining and sharing these improvements with factories and employees across the globe. Measuring the successes, the reduction in wastes, and environmental impact of projects can be even more cumbersome.

Improvement software makes these processes more manageable. With the prevalence of smartphones and the internet, being able to capture an improvement from literally anywhere could be the key to making a difference, whether it is on the front lines of production in a factory or from an office across the world.

By using software to facilitate the measurement of the reduction of carbon pollution, the increase of recycling waste, or the reduction in power usage, keeping track of and publishing environmental improvement couldn’t be easier. KaiNexus makes tracking environmental improvements simpler with its ability to directly calculate the environmental impact of each improvement. It also empowers people to share their improvements with others so that the impact of each one is multiplied far beyond the initial effect.

If environmental improvements were easier to log and track, more can be made and implemented, which means that we can have a bigger impact on the world around us. Schedule a demo to see how KaiNexus can help you.

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Topics: Improvement Culture, Continuous Improvement Software