December 9, 2012 Coca Cola and Interface: Reducing waste and water use*
In Nature there is no such thing as waste. And billionaire, investor extraordinaire Warren Buffett believes that business should follow Nature’s model.
In a recent interview Buffett offered 10 ways to get rich, near the top of his list was watching every expense closely because each one effects profits. Many captains of industry including CEOs of Coca Cola and Interface – the worlds largest carpet company are reducing waste, using less water and following Nature’s model. Furthermore, many CEOs understand that: The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment.
In the United States the amount of trash generated annually is staggering – if you lined up garbage trucks they would reach halfway to the moon each year.
Coca Cola the largest bottler on the globe depends on water as the backbone for its soft drinks. At the top of their list to lessen its footprint around the world, Coca Cola is improving its water efficiency. After all, fresh-water is the life-blood of our planet and climate change is profoundly affecting its availability.
In 2005, Coca Cola increased, globally, its water efficiency in making soft drinks by six percent. At first glance that number may not seem impressive but when multiplied by 79 facilities worldwide, it’s huge.
At its Richmond, British Columbia facility Coca Cola has converted water rinsers for the bottle line, modernized backwash cycles, using air rather than water and it reuses hot air for space heating. It now saves 6 million gallons of water a year.
Converting seven other water rinsers to air rinsers in 2006 elsewhere in North America Coca Cola saved an additional 9.5 million gallons of water each year.
Optimizing its water treatment in Gent, Belgium Coca Cola now saves 96 million liters of water a year. A similar process used in the Netherlands saves a whopping 46.6 million gallons of water per annum.
The Coca Cola facility in Griny, France is an exquisite example of working with Nature to restore habitat. Not only has this facility increased its water use efficiency by 13 percent but a wetland reed filter system uses aquatic plants to absorb nutrients and reduce discharged pollutants. A 16,500 square feet filter garden reduces wastewater by an astounding 45 percent and the facility now saves 30 million gallons of water each year.
Ray Anderson is the founder and CEO of Interface and he’s changing the way corporations worldwide conduct business. “We pass this way once”, says Anderson, “we can leave the Earth better or worse off by our individual and collective actions. It’s that simple. We can help or hurt the Earth for future generations. Which will it be?”
By 2020 the biggest carpet manufacturer will have eliminated any negative impact; that is, all forms of waste in every area of business including toxic substances from production, vehicles and facilities. They will not be buying offset credits because Interface has embraced the fundamental principle of Nature – there is no waste.
If Interface a leading NASDAQ company can achieve this, then so can all other big board companies. The next ten years will be the most innovative and exciting entrepreneurial decade in the history of humankind.
Interface’s Guilford, Maine facility discovered a leak and they changed an $8.50 brass nozzle, saving 2 million gallons of water a year and hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Worldwide, Interface identified its 247 air emission stacks and 19 wastewater effluent pipes at its manufacturing plants, and as of December 2006 they reduced the number of stacks by 42 percent and the number of effluent pipes by 68 percent.
Already seven Interface facilities run on 100 percent renewable energies including solar, biomass and wind. Sixteen percent of its global energy consumption is sourced from renewable energies and they purchase 425,000 tons of offset while continuing to search for more clean renewable green energies to drive their facilities.
To offset their global transportation footprint, Interface has planted over 70,000 trees.
Since Ray Anderson began his campaign to attain zero emissions, Interface has saved over $375 million and they have reduced their worldwide greenhouse gas emission by an impressive 33 percent.
Saving water and energy is one of Anderson’s passions. He’s replaced printing patterns on carpet tile, which is an energy rich process, by using a tufting machine – essentially a huge sewing machine with hundreds of needles that insert the loops of yarn into jute, cotton or synthetic backing to create patterns – a process that decreases energy and water use by 90 percent.
Interface’s top selling pattern is Entropy – it mimics the pattern of a forest floor with strewn leaves, twigs and pebbles. The random pattern means that the carpet tiles do not need matching, can be cut and joined in any direction and significantly reduces the waste upon installation.
Reinventing the wheel is costly and time consuming – it’s very clear that the best, most abundant and long lasting business model is that perfected by Mother Nature.
*This story is dedicated to my Dad, the late Aubrey Jay Halter: Best friend, mentor and entrepreneur.
Text © by Dr Reese Halter 2013. All rights reserved.
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