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Across Sectors, Companies Report Big Savings from Sustainability

We've seen a flurry of CSR reports released over the last week from high-profile companies touting their social and environmental achievements.

Though they hail from a wide variety of sectors, the metrics used to report environmental performance fall along familiar lines, including carbon footprint, energy and water use, waste and packaging.

The following is a peek at some of the reports that crossed our desks over the last seven days, along with links to the reports so you can dig in even further.


The Dallas-based telecommunications company sees a great market opportunity to help its customers save energy and money, citing a 2008 study concluding that information and communications technologies have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. by as much as 22 percent by 2020.

To advance this potential, AT&T has launched a series of tools to help enterprise customers quantify emissions avoided by using some of its products to reduce travel, it said in its 2009 Citizenship and Sustainability Report. It also created an external advisory board to promote the use of ICT to address sustainability issues and develop metrics to track ICT environmental impacts.

In its own operations, AT&T is working toward its goal of deploying 15,000 alternative fuel vehicles over the next decade. By the end of 2009, the company's AFV fleet totaled 970 despite the fact that the vehicles it needs aren't yet readily available off the production line.

AT&T reduce the amount of electricity consumed, relative to data growth on its network, by 23.8 percent. Its 2009 goal called for a 15 percent improvement in 2009, compared to 2008.

The company is scheduled to complete a water footprint assessment in 2010.


One of the largest packaging companies in the world, Ball has worked to reduce the weight of its products and boost recycling. Its efforts led it to increase the amount of post-consumer recycled content in its PET bottles by 6.5 percent in 2009 and embark on a new lightweighting project that will reduce the avoid the use of roughly 6.5 million pounds of PET resin each year, Ball said in its 2010 Sustainability Report.

Ball managed to improve its net earnings by 21.4 percent in 2009 while also reducing electricity use by 5.7 percent. Between 2007 and 2009, Ball has trimmed electricity use by 11 percent, due in part to the $36 million it has spent on energy saving projects over the two-year period.

The company improved energy efficiency, which it measures per 1,000 units produced, by 9 percent in 2009.

Ball's absolute water consumption declined 8.6 percent between 2007 and 2009. When measured against 1,000 units produced, water use shrank by 5.5 percent during the same time period.


Nearly 40 percent of its total greenhouse gas emissions reside in its supply chain, the medical products giant Baxter explained it its 2009 Sustainability Report.  In response, the company launched its Global Supplier Sustainability Program last year to help aim its procurement practices toward products and services that help it reduce its environmental footprint while also strengthen its supply chain and reduce costs.

By 2015, the company plans to survey 100 of its top suppliers on various criteria, including greenhouse gas emissions, natural resource use, and packaging take-back programs, along with plans for reduction. In 2009, the company identified to 100 suppliers and officially launched its e-impact program to communicate suppliers' environmental success stories and draw attention to its employees' environmental initiatives.

Internally, the company plans to reduce its fleet emissions by 20 percent by 2015, relative to a 2007 baseline. To do this, Baxter plans to replace most of its six-cylinder fleet vehicles with four-cylinder models.

Since 2005, Baxter has reduced absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 5 percent, while its greenhouse gas intensity has fallen 26 percent. About 17 percent of the electricity Baxter uses comes from renewable energy sources in 2009, about the same as in 2008.

Since 2005, Baxter has cut absolute waste generation by 7 percent.


Following in the footsteps of other big-name companies such as Baxter, P&G and Walmart, EMC has begun collecting greenhouse gas emissions data from supply chain. The effort began with its Tier 1 direct suppliers in 2009, with roughly 80 percent of these suppliers reporting their 2008 emissions last year. EMC reported (PDF) a wide variation of data quality and completeness. Due to these quality issues, EMC isn't yet publishing the aggregate data. It is also waiting until a Scope 3 methodology is determined before reporting estimates of how much of its suppliers' emissions can be attributed to the products made for EMC.

For its direct operations, EMC has a series of intensity targets for greenhouse gas emissions, including emissions per square footage of its U.S. facilities, and emissions per U.S. dollar or revenue for years 2012, 2015, and 2050. By 2009, the company reduced emissions per square foot of its U.S. facilities by 21 percent, well beyond its Climate Leaders goal of an 8 percent reduction. It also cut emissions intensity by 11 percent, putting it on track to meet its 2012 goal of a 30 percent reduction.

Since 2000, EMC's emissions have risen 40 percent, while its revenue has increased by 59 percent.

The company's total electricity use ticked up 2 percent over 2008, while its travel-related emissions sank 21 percent below 2007 levels.

EMC reduced new packaging for its core products by 30 percent, relative to 2008 levels, largely due to increasing the amount of reusable materials and the economic recession.

In 2009, the company joined forces with MIT, Cisco and the University of Massachusetts to launch a $100 million green data center in the city of Holyoke.


The brewer, maker of Miller Genuine Draft, Pilner Urquell, and other brands, has reduced the amount of water it uses to make beer by 4 percent, the company said in its 2010 Sustainable Development Report.. The company has set a 2015 goal of reducing water use per hectoliter of beer by 25 percent between 2008 and 2015, or 3.5 hectoliters of water used for ever hectoliter of beer produced.

SABMiller completed a water footprint assessment in 2009 for its Czech operations, with plans to conduct similar analyses in South Africa, Tanzania, Peru and Ukraine. The company declared last September a water stewardship month to spotlight water issues and projects at its global facilities.

The company's CEO was one of six business leaders to launch the CEO Water Mandate in 2007.

The company lowered the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced per hectoliter of beer by 4 percent last year, compared to 2008. Much of this footprint is directly tied to electricity use. SABMiller has vowed to reduce fossil fuel emissions from onsite energy use by half between 2008 and 2020; in 2009, the company reduce energy use 3 percent when measured against each hectoliter produced.

SABMiller also increased the amount of waste it recycled between 2008 and 2009, from 95 percent to 96 percent.

Image CC-licensed by bionicteaching.

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