Every green company strives to help the environment. They consider it as a sense of responsibility to do their bit in saving the planet. But what sets them apart from normal companies and manufacturers?
We compiled a list of six such practices that green companies follow on a daily basis that distinguishes them from any average company.Energy Efficiency
Natural resources such as coal, petroleum and natural gas are the major sources of fuel for industries and automobiles around the world. Moreover, coal is the major source of electricity production in most of the developing countries around the world.
Undoubtedly, the energy yield obtained from such resources is irreplaceable by any other alternative source, but there is a dire urgency to reduce the overall energy dependency on them for two reasons: The first is that coal, petroleum and natural gas are non-renewable and their stock on our planet is limited. Thus, unrestricted mining would result in their depletion. The second reason is that the excessive use of coal and petroleum products produces an enormous amount of pollution, which is degrading our environment.
To prevent such drastic effects, green companies use strategies and plans to lower their dependency on non-renewable sources and devise new technologies to increase the energy efficiency of their manufacturing units. So that, by consuming minimum energy, they can generate maximum output. For example, UAL Corporation, the major airline company in the United States has appointed their own environment specialists to work on devising ways to make the company greener each year. The company has spent around $20 billion on research and development of more fuel efficient aircraft engines.
Alternative Renewable Energy Resources
Dependency of industries on non-renewable sources of energy cannot be prevented, but can be reduced by adopting alternative energy sources. The renewable energy sources include wind, solar and tidal energy; Installing biomass, hydroelectric and geothermal power plants; and other types of environment-friendly units.
But the only hindrance in adapting such techniques on a large scale is the lack of commercialization of such alternative energy sources. However, many green companies have taken a step forward in this direction by installing renewable energy power plants in their manufacturing units.
One such company is Budweiser, which has implemented extensive environmental controls, and reports that the amount of energy used in its production process fell by 8.5% in 2009. The company also reports that almost one-tenth of its energy needs are now met by renewable sources like biomass.
Reducing & Reusing CO2
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most prominent greenhouse gas emitted by manufacturing industries as it accounts for about 82% of all greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. Most companies are focusing on how to reduce their CO2 emissions, but some are finding novel ways to sequester carbon dioxide and put it to use in environmentally-friendly applications.
Carbon dioxide is a part of our natural environment, as all animals on the planet exhale CO2 whereas the plants intake it to create energy. But excessive industrialization has disturbed nature's cycle as excess CO2 released into the atmosphere has been a leading cause of global warming.
Green companies ensure that the CO2 emission from their production units are as low as possible and pledge to further cut their emission amount before a set target year. For example, LG Electronics has pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30 million tons annually between 2009 and 2020, which is a cumulative reduction of more than 200 million tons.
Other companies are finding ways to reuse CO2. CO2 can be captured from the environment and recycled into cylinders and tanks. This CO2 is currently used in carbonating your soda and drinks, but does not contribute negatively to the greenhouse effect. Other Industries that are putting recycled CO2 to good use are garment dry cleaning, surface preparation prior to painting, aerospace assembly, and insect fumigation.
Use of Recycled Products
Industrial processes produce different types of byproducts. These byproducts are generally considered as waste and drained into rivers or dumped in waste containers. But many of these byproducts are generally usable materials. There is a need for an accepted mindset that industrial materials are also valuable and can be recycled.
Recycled products range from simple cardboard boxes to recyclable polymer plastics and rubbers. Even different forms of byproduct produced in industries serve as raw material for many glass and paper manufacturers. Green companies, such as GoVios, incorporate recycled cell phones and their batteries as a way of keeping groundwater contaminating chemicals and heavy metals out of the environment.
Prohibiting Use of Non-Biodegradable Materials
Non-biodegradable materials, such as Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC), degrade with time and their improper disposal induces a chain of harmful chemical reactions. Through these chain reactions in the PVC, its average molecular weight decreases and it shreds into tiny particles known as microplastics. These microplastics are not biologically degradable and attach themselves to various organic pollutants.
Microplastics are so small in structure that they are ingested by grazing animals in fields. Once ingested by the animals, these microplastics accumulate inside the intestines of animals and pose serious health issues. Moreover, as the food chain proceeds, microplastics are transferred from one animal to another, thus deteriorating the health of all organisms in a food chain.
Green companies prohibit use of compounds made up of PVC. HCL Infosystems, for example, launched a range of eco-friendly notebooks, which are completely PVC-free.
Compliance with Standards
Every country in the world has incorporated a set of social, environmental, health and safety standards and has made it compulsory for the companies to follow them. However, certain aspects of this rule book are advisable but not mandatory. These include energy usage, energy efficiency, waste management, planting of trees around the industry premises, etc. As a result, many companies do not comply with the designated standards strictly, which results in an increased amount of pollution and degradation of the environment.
Conscientious companies set themselves apart by making sure that they follow every social, environmental, health and safety rule, and even go above and beyond. Moreover, they work to achieve their business targets through a very environmentally friendly way. Samsung, the electronics giant known for their state of the art gadgets and appliances, has recently started a large scale sustainability campaign they call Planet First, which includes initiatives for climate change, eco-friendly design, chemical usage and recycling.
Most corporations have come to the realization that green initiatives are no longer an option, but a necessity for long term viability. Sure, part of their efforts may be about their image, but companies that are pioneering the uses of cutting-edge green technologies and those that are open to completely changing the way they do things are the ones that will prevail as we continue to prioritize the state of our planet.
About the Author: Jon Wikstrom is an environment and technology writer who is passionate about helping to inform individuals and companies about how to adopt more environmentally-friendly practices. As the founder of Cool Clean Technologies, a company that designs custom CO2 dry cleaning systems, Jon is especially interested in green technologies for manufacturing. To learn more, visit www.coolClean.com