6 Best Ways Companies Are Protecting the Planet

Something huge happened this past summer: The Business Roundtable – an association of the chief executive officers of nearly 200 of America’s largest and most influential companies – released a new Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation.

After 22 years of endorsing shareholder primacy – in which corporations exist principally to serve investors – the organization committed to a new ethos in which the purpose of a corporation is to benefit all stakeholders, including workers, customers, communities, and the environment.

The Business Roundtable’s vision – eliciting a mix of celebration and skepticism – catches up to what the American public has been telling us for years: They want business to serve all, not just a few.

The clear question is, what’s next? How do we turn words into deeds? To help start answering these questions, we’ve spent the past few weeks sharing stories of what it might look like to prioritize each key stakeholder.

First, we showed you six examples of companies committed to supporting the communities in which they work. Then, we shined a light on five amazing (and impactful) ways companies are taking care of their employees.

Next up: the environment.

Large companies produce useful materials and services, but they also have large footprints. Americans agree that corporations must play a role in protecting our planet – minimizing pollution, reducing waste, and implementing robust environmental management systems.

More specifically, here are six examples of what prioritizing the environment looks like in action.

1. Apple Nearly Doubles Its Clean Energy Partners

Overall JUST Capital Rank: 16

Earlier this year, Apple announced it nearly doubled the number of suppliers that have committed to run their Apple production on 100% clean energy, bringing the total number to 44. Because of this partnership, Apple will exceed its goal of bringing four gigawatts of renewable energy into its supply chain by 2020.

To help put that number into perspective, one gigawatt of power is equal to 1 billion watts or roughly 1.3 million horses (746 watts = 1 horsepower). It’s a lot of power.

From Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives: “We’ve made it a priority to hold our suppliers accountable to the same environmental standards we observe and hope that our collaboration will show others what is possible.”

The company also announced the allocation of $2.5 billion in green bonds, which has gone to 40 environmental initiatives around the world, including solar rooftops in Japan, an aquifer to conserve water in Oregon, and the creation of a custom alloy made of 100% recycled aluminum that’s now found in the newest MacBook Air and Mac mini.

2. Amazon Pledges to Be Carbon Neutral by 2040

Overall JUST Capital Rank: 30

In September 2019, Amazon committed to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement 10 years ahead of schedule and be carbon neutral by 2040. The promises are part of a new effort called The Climate Pledge, which Amazon co-founded with Global Optimism.

The pledge calls on signatories to regularly measure and report greenhouse gas emissions and implement decarbonization strategies, among other things.

From Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO: “If a company with as much physical infrastructure as Amazon – which delivers more than 10 billion items a year – can meet the Paris Agreement 10 years early, then any company can.”

To help meet the goal, Amazon has ordered a large fleet of electric delivery vehicles from Rivian, a Michigan-based company in which Amazon had already invested $440 million. Amazon said the first Rivian electric delivery trucks would hit the road in 2021, and it planned to have 10,000 in service as early as 2022.

Amazon’s announcement came a day before more than 1,500 Amazon employees had planned to walk out of work, in an escalation of almost a year of pressuring Amazon to be more aggressive in its climate goals. The walkout was in conjunction with a day of planned climate strikes around the world – part of Climate Week 2019, which saw a number of bold commitments on climate change from the private sector.

3. Target Commits to Being 100% Renewable Energy-Powered by 2030

Overall JUST Capital Rank: 53

Target has been transparent about its ambitious goals to reduce the company’s carbon footprint for years, but a June 2019 announcement marked another big step forward: The company is committing to source 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

From John Leisen, Target’s vice president of property management: “At Target, we’ve been on a multi-year journey to operate our facilities more sustainably, and setting this ambitious goal is an important milestone. We’re proud of the work we’ve already done with renewable energy in our stores, and we’ll continue to explore more opportunities and partnerships to realize this goal.”

Target plans to reach this goal by investing in projects around the country that produce electricity through renewable resources, like sun and wind. Two examples include the Lone Tree Wind Project in Illinois with Leeward Renewable Energy, LLC and Sand Fork Solar in Texas with ENGIE. Together, these two sources are estimated to generate approximately 556,000 megawatt hours of renewable electricity – the equivalent of 280 Target stores annually throughout the United States.

In addition to investing in renewable energy projects, Target is also upgrading facilities to make them more sustainable. Improvements include rooftop solar panels, electric vehicle charging stations, and LED lights in nearly all stores.

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4. Kohl’s Discloses Its 2025 Sustainability Goals

Overall JUST Capital Rank: 56

Kohl’s, last year’s environmental leader in Retail, recently announced a new set of sustainability goals focused on climate action, waste and recycling, and sustainable sourcing. As part of the initiative, the company plans to hit the following targets by the end of 2025:

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Kohl’s-owned operations by 50%.
  • Further reduce energy consumption by 10% at Kohl’s facilities, building off of the company’s existing 20% reduction against 2008 baseline.
  • Support the transition to low-carbon transportation by building off of the company’s 96 locations that offer electrical vehicle charging.
  • Divert 85% of Kohl’s U.S. operational waste from landfills.
  • Reduce the amount of plastic and cardboard in Kohl’s-owned branded packaging.
  • Achieve 100% sustainably sourced cotton in the company’s proprietary brands.

Why we applaud this transparency: When companies disclose goals and measure progress, it provides a powerful incentive to improve on those metrics. Learn more about the power of transparency to drive real change here.

5. Best Buy Sets First Goal to Help Consumers Reduce Carbon Emissions and to Improve Company Efficiency

Overall JUST Capital Rank: 135

Best Buy has already reduced its carbon emissions by 50% since 2009, but there’s still more work to do. The company has set a goal to help consumers reduce their carbon emissions by 20% (from a 2017 base year) and save $5 billion on utility costs by 2030, while it works to further decrease its own carbon emissions by 75% (from a 2009 base year).

To help consumers, Best Buy will put greater emphasis on Energy Star electronics, appliances, and other energy-saving devices.

In its own operations, Best Buy will reduce carbon emissions through efficiencies from renewable sources, LED lighting, and a hybrid vehicle fleet. It will also use automated technology in its distribution centers to reduce shipping waste and use new machines that will create custom, better fitting boxes and envelopes, producing 40% less cardboard waste and eliminating plastic fillers.

6. Norwegian Cruise Lines Moves to Eliminate Plastic Water Bottles on Board

Overall JUST Capital Rank: 721

Norwegian Cruise Lines, one of last year’s lowest performers, is taking steps to improve their practices. When the company’s newest ship, the Norwegian Encore, launches in November 2019, the 4,000-passenger vessel will not offer plastic water bottles to guests. Instead, it will carry the JUST Water brand, which features a cap made of sugar cane and a refillable, recyclable carton made of mostly renewable materials.

The company, which is the cruise industry’s third largest, plans to shift its entire fleet over by the beginning of 2020, eliminating an estimated six million single-use bottles per year. This initiative follows last year’s effort to eliminate single-use plastic straws across the company’s 16-ship fleet and private destinations.

While we applaud all six of these companies’ efforts, they represent a small sample of the corporate responsibility to help protect our planet. To stay up to date on all the latest shifts to benefit the environment, workers, customers, and more, sign up for our FREE weekly newsletter!

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