What can we do about global warming? That’s the question individuals, corporations and organizations are being challenged to ponder today in honor of World Environment Day 2017. Celebrated annually, World Environment Day is the United Nations’ annual push to promote awareness and action for the protection of our planet.
Last year, my team considered this question and decided that we would start with a small action: collect the old batteries we used at work and at home throughout the year and responsibly recycle them on Earth Day. We decorated a small cardboard box and placed it in a visible location in our department and watched it fill up.
Many passing employees commented that they didn’t realize that batteries shouldn’t be thrown out with household trash. In reality, the common AA, C and D batteries that power our electronics and other gadgets account for a large amount of the household hazardous materials in our nation’s landfills and the toxins they’re releasing are contributing to global climate change.
When we finally emptied the box at our Earth Day recycling event this year, we had collected more than 100 batteries. We were so excited about how simple it was to help the environment that we placed a larger battery recycling container in the lobby of our office so we could collect even more to recycle next year. Even though recycling a box of batteries may seem like a minor benefit to the planet, if everyone takes a small action, we can have a huge impact.
At Konica Minolta, we’ve been taking steps to promote a cleaner planet for more than a decade. Our environmental efforts are two-fold; we’re working to keep our business operations green while also developing innovative products and solutions to help our customers reduce their environmental impact. Since our long term environmental plan, Eco Vision 2050, was established in 2005, we’ve been working to achieve its goals, including reducing our product’s CO2 emissions by 80 percent by 2050. In the process, we’ve developed three programs to help us enhance sustainability measures in all areas of business.
In 2011, we developed a Green Products program for evaluating and certifying products with superior environmental performance. To make our products even more eco-friendly, Konica Minolta developed a process that blends PET plastic with PC from water bottles to create a recycled material that can be used in the outer casing of multifunction printers, the first use of recycled materials for this purpose in the industry. We’ve also started producing toner bottles made from recycled milk bottles.
Through our Green Factory program, we’ve developed a unique certification system that helps us reduce our environmental impact at print production sites worldwide. The program helps sites set goals and monitor progress toward reductions. We’ve even started working with our suppliers to reduce their impact through our Green Suppliers Program which kicked off in 2015.
Our Green Marketing program helps us set environmental goals related to distribution, packaging, sales, and service. Here in the U.S., our Clean Planet Program, solar energy initiatives and SmartWay logistics partnership are all ways we’re committing to these global efforts.
Over the past several years, our environmental efforts have been recognized by many prestigious organizations. In 2016, we were named to the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index for the fifth year in a row; we also received top recognitions from organizations like Nikkei Inc. and RobecoSAM. The awards are not the reason we continue to enhance our environmental efforts, however the recognition shows that our efforts are making a difference, while encouraging other businesses and customers to do the same.
This World Environment Day, please keep in mind the following quote from Jane Goodall, “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”
What can we do about global warming? At Konica Minolta, we will continue to make a positive difference.