Why Some Companies Are Cannibalizing Their Businesses

When Andrew Winston, co-author of Green To Gold, attended the Executive Sustainability Summit, he was struck by the fact that Xerox and Waste Management are “cannibalizing their own businesses.” Both companies are “working with customers to help them use less of their traditional product or service,” Winston says in a blog post about the Summit, hosted by Xerox, Waste Management and Arizona State University.

Waste Management CEO Dave Steiner said at the Executive Sustainability Summit, “When your company is called Waste Management, and your customers all talk about ‘zero waste,’ you better change your business model…We’re cannibalizing our own business to give back more to our customers.” Winston calls what Xerox and Waste Management are doing “heretical innovation.” He says, “So both corporate giants are handling the industry transitions by embracing sustainability to the core.”

Xerox holds a 48 percent market share in the managed print services (MSP) industry, and its Xerox’s Enterprise Print Services helps its customers to manage the amount of documents printed. “What Xerox is offering is less total printing,” Winston writes, and describes it as a “big shift in business as usual.” Xerox is working with Dow to reduce the amount of printers in its offices, and is using less centrally-located multifunction devices.

“Sustainability…is what is driving the transformation of Xerox to a services-led business,” Xerox President, North America, Russell Peacock, said.

Xerox VP of Environment Patty Calkins, asks, “Who would think that Xerox would help you reduce printing or that Waste Management would move toward zero waste?”

Waste Management’s main revenue is in waste, but it is helping its customers to reduce its waste, which means less in landfills, and diverts the waste to waste to energy (WTE) plants, which generate enough electricity to power 1.1 million homes. Perhaps the company’s tag line says it all: “Think green.” CNN reports that Waste Manage invested in or acquired around 25 small companies that “capture materials or energy from stuff that’s thrown away.”

Waste Management is shifting capital investment to recycling plants, according to CNN, called materials recovery facilities (MRF) from landfills. MRFs let consumers put all recyclables into one bin which are then separated with forced air, optical scanning and magnets that “capture materials or energy from stuff that’s thrown away”

Waste Management’s strategy is not hurting its revenue as it is doing better than Republic Services, which CNN calls its “chief rival.” Waste Management’s revenue increased 15 percent, while Republic Services decreased two percent.

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

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