It is an exciting time for green businesses. Green building is on the rise, the auto industry is racing to produce electric cars and major corporations are starting to assess the environmental impacts of their products and operations. Businesses are setting goals on waste reduction- Wal-Mart pledges to reduce global plastic shopping bag waste by an average of 33% per store by 2013; use of alternative energy is on the rise and businesses are tracking their carbon footprint.
Greenbiz.com does an annual report on green business efforts and the progress towards more sustainable business models. The report provides some optimism, but also indicates we have a long way to go. For businesses that are working to be greener, there can be many benefits, such as attracting customers, reducing costs, and providing healthier working conditions for employees. So how does a business move forward on a plan to be green? There needs to be a long-range view of the overall mission for the business. Some businesses are creating positions for a Sustainability Coordinator that can be a point person to move the effort forward and provide resources. St. Petersburg College offers a degree program in Sustainability Management. If a new position is not created, companies are forming employee teams to promote activities like recycling, waste reduction, green purchasing and energy conservation.
A good place to start is by writing a company environmental policy statement. This statement is a set of goals that helps a company put its commitment into practice. Sound environmental policies can reduce overhead and be a valuable tool in efficiency. A policy statement should be developed with the participation of employees and include legal compliance, product stewardship, continual improvement and involvement with employees and customers.
To support local efforts for businesses to go green and provide recognition to companies that meet specific criteria, Pinellas County Extension has developed a Green Business Partnership assessment. Over the next few months, a series of articles will outline that program and how any business can begin the exciting process of being a green business. The new website provides information and resources.
Sign up for the Introduction to the Green Business Partnership, December 15, 2009 to learn more: www.pinellascountyextension.org On Line Registration
Walmart’s Sustainability Efforts
St. Petersburg College Bachelor of Applied Science in Sustainability Management