Earth Day 2009


This is our home, We just want to keep it clean.
~Hannah McPhee, Grade 7 student, Toronto, Canada.

There is an increasingly and most welcome pressure to manufacturing companies for reducing the packaging of their products and the dangerous components in their final goods, i.e. in Europe, Apple Computer is required to produce computers without lead. The trend is called Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), and I would pair it with the existing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

This is not a bone the companies are throwing at us because they like us, they are being forced to do it by regulations, market expectations, and recent scandals. Last year, Menu Foods had to recall 5,300 products, killed more than 100 pets, and had to paid $42M in damages. Mattel had to recall 21 million toys and lose $30M; some consequences were grimmer: Zhang Shuhong, the head of the company that put lead on the Mattel toy’s paint, committed suicide at a warehouse.

I wrote some weeks ago about Monsanto and the response was a fair skepticism about the organization’s bona fides, but the manufacturers are not really just talking, they need to follow strict standards like SOX, REACH, EHS, ISO 14001, and a long et cetera.

I will celebrate this 2009 year with a new commitment. I was working in a lovely environment in Toronto and for personal reasons I had to move, last week, to Montréal. Now I am working in a company that helps organizations to comply with environmental standards. Companies spend $22B a year in environmental compliance, with $8B going to technology support. Rightist with Heart: You can do your business and still follow a CSR policy and regulations, and Leftist with Brain: You can push for change, make the world greener, and actually have a job.

Happy Earth Day everyone.

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