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The Challenges of Eco-Friendliness

Starbucks isn't the only company discovering that setting sustainability targets is easy, but achieving them is not.

The Challenges of Eco-Friendliness
Bristol-Myers Squibb Campbell's Dow Chemical Herman Miller HP
Mission: Reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, energy, and water use 10% from 2001 to 2010. Cut water use 20% in "severely stressed" areas. Mission: By 2020, reduce environmental footprint by 50%; minimize packaging, improve recyclability. Unveiled in May 2010. Mission: By 2015, reduce energy relative to production 25% when compared with 2005. Sell more products based on "sustainable chemistry." Mission: 2020 goals announced in 2004. Zero emissions, water use, and hazardous and landfill waste. Mission: Slash greenhouse-gas emissions and energy consumption 25% between 2005 and 2010. Recycle 2 billion pounds of electronic products from 1987 to 2010.
Technique: New LEED-certified Massachusetts facility, geothermal Munich HQ. Cagey about broader production changes. Technique: Started process before official announcement. Redesigned classic soup can with a thinner lid. Drawing heat from wastewater. Technique: "We are focusing on more efficient ways to make basic chemical building blocks like chlorine," says Dow director of sustainability Mark Weick. Technique: Using the cradle-to-cradle design protocol. Switching from solvent-based coatings to water-based ones. Contracts for green energy through 2013. Technique: Recycling inkjet cartridges. Consolidating packaging and facilities.
Results: Met first three goals, but missed water-use one in "stressed" China. "There's still more to be done," says BMS green czar Robert Draeger. Results: Saved more than 775 million gallons of water and 3.5 million pounds of steel in 2009, but energy use and emissions remained steady. Results: Reduced energy 3% so far. Solar shingles will hit the market in 2011. Results: Hazardous waste has been reduced 95%; water use is down 78%; VOC air emissions are down 93%; and landfill waste is down 88%. Results: Met greenhouse goal a year early, increased it to 40% by 2011. Recycled 1.7 billion pounds of electronics as of April 2010.


A version of this article appeared in the November 2010 issue of Fast Company magazine.