When Forbes published its most recent list of the world’s most sustainable companies, I was a little surprised that the number of US-based companies only accounted for 18% (18 out of the top 100). However, upon further investigation, I realized these numbers were comparatively strong. In fact, the United States’ 18% turned out to be the highest of all the countries included in the report (for more click on The World’s 100 Most Sustainable Companies, 2014). Canada ranked second with 13 companies, while Britain and France tied for third; each having 8 companies in the top 100.
As I continued to review the list, I discovered that the company’s geographical headquarter location was irrelevant. And rightly so, as sustainability is a planet-wide initiative; or at least it should be.
A Case In Point
BMW, headquartered in Munich, Germany, has a large production facility in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The SC plant, which will soon be BMW’s largest in the world, may be leading by example in terms of sustainability for manufacturing-oriented companies.
Environmental stewardship can be found throughout its operations – from its choice of paint to its recycling programs. BMW continues to reduce its carbon footprint by using hydrogen fuel cells in place of batteries for assets requiring high-energy charging stations with extended periods of downtime. Similarly, workers in the South Carolina plant are cooled through an energy-saving system that pumps water into elevated pipes to cool the surrounding air. About 50% of the plant’s power is derived from methane gas, which is pumped from the Palmetto Landfill.
Other environmental milestones include reductions in:
· Water consumption (55 percent)
· Energy (58 percent)
· Air emissions (45 percent)
· Industrial wastewaters (56 percent)
· Landfill (88%)
In addition to the environmental impacts, BMW is capturing economic value from its global sustainability initiatives, thereby proving that the people-planet-profit model is achievable. BMW, which continues to receive significant accolades for its planet-friendly operations, is redefining our understanding – and our behaviors – for developing and implementing sustainable business practices.