By Jerome Peribere
Last month, we saw the historic results from the COP21 climate conference in Paris, and in a few days business and government leaders will be assembling in Davos to continue these critical discussions.
At COP21, government leaders convened and agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, place a larger focus on temperature increases, and pledge $100 billion a year to help developing countries meet these goals. In Davos, topics including carbon emissions, water, protecting resources and deforestation are all on the schedule of panels.
These are important starts.
Climate change, along with other global trends such as population growth, urbanization, and food and water scarcity, have created – and will continue to create – significant resource challenges for the whole world. Meeting these challenges will require all of us to be more resourceful moving forward.
We use the word “resourceful” on purpose. Its double meaning of: 1) protecting our natural resources; and 2) approaching resources with fresh thinking will both be particularly important.
Sealed Air is committed to the principles espoused in the COP21 agreement and -- as CEO of a company that deals with packaging, chemicals and plastics -- I feel we must play a leading role in establishing action to address climate change.
In many senses, we’ve already started, and I am committing our company to do even more in the coming years.
Time is short to make some of these meaningful changes. The global population is expected to reach more than 9 billion by 2050, and more than half of the world’s population now lives in cities, with urbanization and rising incomes expected to continue to increase in the future – further straining resources.
The Paris Agreement is made up of goals, not requirements, and it's up to my fellow business leaders and me to press aggressively forward. Many of the things we have launched at Sealed Air are helping us achieve our goals, but it cannot be done alone or in a vacuum.
It’s incumbent on companies of every size around the world to take an honest look at how they are using resources such as energy and water and begin the process of re-imagining their operations, supply chains, and shipping and distribution networks.
Doing so will not only help ease the strain on the world’s resources, but also enhance the efficiencies and bottom line of companies’ operations by reducing water and energy usage and taking out costs.
Our sustainability strategy is centered on greenhouse gas reductions, reducing operating costs and risk, and generating value through solutions that reduce waste, conserve energy and water, and optimize the use of raw materials for our customers.
Access to clean, safe water is a major challenge further complicated by global warming. Many of our products are already creating positive change in this area. Without better drinking water, better cleaning procedures and products, and better care of our existing resources, little else will matter.
By partnering with a number of our clients we have started to see some encouraging results:
- A solution for India: Water safety and sanitation is a major consideration for our clients in India. Our Diversey Care team has supplied a number of new cleaning procedures and products to the Sofitel Mumbai hotel to cut the environmental impact of its cleaning. One came from introducing a new laundry detergent that worked equally well at lower temperatures and contained fewer chemicals. In just a year, it has reduced water consumption by 42 percent, effluent by 42 percent and extended linen life up to 30 percent.
- Clean brewing: Brazil Kirin, one of the largest Brazilian breweries, has been a Food Care client for more than 10 years and needed help increasing the availability of its plants – especially during cleaning periods. By using our Divosan Uniforce System, the company is now able to carry out its cleaning in a single step, reaching all objectives. This new process has cut water use by 50 percent, effluent emissions by 32 percent and energy use by 56 percent.
Part of making a global difference comes from better sharing our results internally and spreading the news to multiple locations. Not every project in India will work in Indiana or Istanbul. But some will.
So, where do we go from here?
Sealed Air is not just reducing our clients’ global impact; we are also finding better ways to leverage our own use of resources.
This June, we announced our 2020 Sustainability Goals, detailing commitments for our own operations, our products and the communities we serve. Also, I am making a commitment to publish the sustainability, or carbon impact, of all our products and solutions.
Our product packaging preserves resources by eliminating damage in transit, reducing returns, and ensuring that delivery space are optimized; our food packaging is eliminating waste around the globe; and our Diversey Care business is all about conserving water and energy resources in our customers' operations.
We believe by continuing to innovate and focus on how we use resources, we will be able to reduce our footprint, slash our greenhouse gas emissions and achieve the goals stated at COP21.
By so doing, we will be a better partner in protecting our environment and a better steward of the Earth’s limited resources.
Image credit: Pixabay
Jerome Peribere is the President and CEO of Sealed Air