Blog Post #3 07/21

What is your best/favorite example of a business or organization that does an admirable job at incorporating sustainability into its operations?

Apple is my favorite example of a business that does an admirable job at incorporating sustainability into its operations. They have been working on making their products sustainable, including a 70% reduction in average product energy use since 2008, running a trade-in program, where you can recycle Apple products to be refurbished or recycled, and using 100% recycled aluminum, tungsten, and rare earth metals in the production of their products. They also have a plan to make all their products carbon neutral by 2030. Their plan includes low carbon design, energy efficiency, switching to renewable energy, avoiding direct carbon emissions, and carbon removal from the atmosphere.

Based on the idea of greenwashing (or another viewpoint or challenge against the idea that the natural environment is a stakeholder), what is an outrageous and/or cynical example of a business or organization whose sustainability efforts are insincere or even detrimental?

ExxonMobil is one of the companies whose sustainability efforts are insincere. They say that they support the Paris Agreement and set targets for 2025 which were rejected for falling short of the Paris Agreement. It advertises being sustainable and restricting their emissions, but the reality is different. They announced a plan in 2018 which would raise their oil and gas production by 1 million barrels of oil within 7 years. If it were to succeed, it would raise their emissions by 17%. Although the UN states that in order to meet climate goals, all fossil fuel companies must decrease production, Exxon disagrees. They believe that the demand for fossil fuels will remain there, whether they reduce their supply or not, so the market should focus on efficient producers, such as Exxon. At the same time, if all fossil fuel companies agree to reduce the supply of fossil fuels by limiting production and instead shifting their energy production to renewable energy, consumers would be forced to switch to those renewable energy producers.

As always, where do you think you will see this debate over real/legitimate approaches to sustainability versus greenwashing in the future?

I believe that real/legitimate approaches to sustainability will grow in the future. As companies continue to reduce their impact on the environment and consumers become increasingly interested in the social mission behind companies, many companies will be forced to switch to sustainable practices. As time goes on, the natural environment will become a more prevalent stakeholder, where although nobody may be able to speak on its behalf, businesses will have to, and should react to the changes in the environment in order to meet its needs. This change will also be partially driven by the consumers, who are already pushing for sustainability and becoming more aware of greenwashing in businesses.