It’s a Green World … Unless You Live in the United States

As you know, at least once a month, I like to talk about greengreen suppliers, green strategies, green best practices, and any other green you can think of that benefits your business as well as the environment. And I’m not alone. This also appears to be a favorite topic of David Bush’s over on eSourcingForum (see Will Kermit Change His Tune?, for example) and of Tim Minahan’s over on Supply Excellence (see It Ain’t Easy Being Green: Ethanol Hopes and Woes, for example).

Today I’m going to talk not about how going green is going to help you, but how not going green is going to hurt you. Whereas the United States has decided not to ratify the Kyoto Treaty, the rest of the world appears to be embracing it not only as a requirement, but as a way of doing business.

For example, the EU is trying to stimulate green public procurement for its own institutions and governments. See a recent article on aptly entitled Green Procurement. Japan’s DENSO Corporation recently announced New Green Procurement Guidelines for Suppliers based on DENSO’s long-term environmental policy. The Recycling Council of Alberta Business Development Committee is preparing to sponsor research on green procurement to help Canadian companies find information on green products, services, and existing green procurement policies in Canada. Even Australia, after a recent Green Procurement Audit has realized the need for a sustainability charter to drive ecologically sustainable practices.

In other words, if you’re not green, you could find yourselves with significantly fewer customers in the near future.

On the green front, I’ve collected quite a few articles of interest over the last month.

Via Technologies, a Taiwanese manufacturer of motherboards and chips, has developed a processor, the VIA C7-D, that consumes a mere 20 watts. Now, it’s true that processors do not produce CO2, but the electricity they run on is often produced by methods that do produce CO2. By decreasing processing power requirements, and by contributing to reforestation efforts to counteract the small amount of carbon dioxide that will be produced in the production of the electricity required to power the chip, as calculated by carbon footprint, Via Technologies has taken another step towards making computing greener.

Cellex Power, General Hydrogen, and Ballard have teamed up to produce The hydrogen powered fork lift that runs on hydrogen rather than lead acid batteries. As the article says, it’s not glamorous … but considering how many forklifts there are out there, it’s significant.

Florida is building a $425 million facility that will use lightning-like plasma arcs to turn trash into gas and rock-like material. The gas will be used to run turbines and produce electricity, of which a third will be used to sustain the plant and the rest will be put back on the grid, and the material that results from the melted organic matter will be hardened into slag and used in road and construction projects.

Carbon Fiber, five times stronger and two times as stiff as steel, despite being lighter than steel, is now being used by a number of major manufacturers, including BMW. This allows for a significant increase in fuel efficiency in vehicles that require conventional fuel.

Germany recently dedicated the Gut Erlasse Solar Park, a 12-megawatt facility located near the Bavarian town of Arnstein that holds the distinction of the World’s Largest Solar Power Plant.

A number of fiber and fabric firms are launching green products, as described in this recent Apparel Magazine article. For example, Unifi has launched a polyester yarn made of 100% recycled materials, DuPont Sorona has undertaken an initiative to insure that at least 25% of its revenues come from products made of non-depletable resources, and Sole Custom Footbeds is using corn-based material in its NatureWorks PLA plastic packaging which will decompose naturally with no negative environmental impact.

Finally, GE and mtvU are sponsoring the Ecomagination Challenge where they are asking individuals and teams of college students from around the country to submit innovative, groundbreaking ideas for projects that would make their schools more environmentally responsible. The school with the best idea gets a 25K grant to bring the plan to life as well as an mtvU concert on campus.