Graham Hill Tells Suppliers Why & How To Reduce GHG's
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by Heather Philipp on 03/03/2010
Graham Hill of Treehugger.com outlines for businesses why greenhouse gases are significant and how to reduce them as part of Walmart's GHG reduction announcement February 24, 2010.
Treehugger.com has joined with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to support the sustainability initiatives of Walmart with recent partnership in announcing the retailer's extraordinary goal to reduce approximately 20 million metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions by 2015. (Read more on our blog about Walmart's GHG reduction goals.)
Treehugger.com not only partnered with Walmart to broadcast and offer commentary on the GHG reduction goal announcement, but its founder and CEO, Graham Hill, also offered to suppliers a basic run-down of the significance of greenhouse gas emissions and a number of ways retail suppliers can reduce them. Here is a recap of Hill's topics and points geared towards Walmart suppliers but relevent to all product producers and helpful for any business, especially retail:
What are Greenhouse Gases and How Do They Affect Us?
- Greehouse gases form a blanket around the Earth and traps heat from the sun to keep us warm
- If the "blanket" is too thick of course, we experience discomfort from elevated temperature
- Even just a few degrees rise in global average temperature makes a difference
- Do to the way we've been living the past two hundred years, we've been quickly adding significant amounts of greenhouse gases (GHG's) to the atmosphere
- This increase in GHG's is raising the temperature which is causing quickly-rising seas, droughts, floods, tornadoes, and other crazy weather.
- We're creating a situation that will disrupt the way we live and require us to deal with more pests and diseases, and will disrupt our food system.
How Are Products Responsible for GHG Emissions and What Is "Embodied Energy"?
- Products use up energy during their use, of course
- Also, and importantly, products cause emissions during their creation
- Impacts of product creation are contained within the "embodied energy" of the product and include:
- Gathering and refining raw materials
- Making of the product
- Transportation of the materials and product itself
- Recycling and disposing of the product
- In conclusion, every product Walmart sells/suppliers provide causes greenhouse gases to be emitted during its creation and over the course of its lifetime
- Carbon dioxide, methane, nitris oxide and other gases are emitted primarily as a result of mining the earth for coal, oil and gas and then burning it
- Climate change is overall an energy problem so if you want to limit climate change, you have to figure out how to reduce energy use
How Can You Create Products With Less Embodied Energy?
- Choose materials with less embodied energy
- Use less materials overall
- A product that is made with half the materials is going to have half the footprint
- Use less energy in the production through efficient machines, process efficiencies and more
- Package products in smart ways
- Reduce the transportation that the products and their components have to make
How Can You Create Products That Utilize Less Energy In Their Using, i.e. Energy-Efficient Products?
- Reduce the amount the customer uses
- You can do this by concentrating the product, through packaging design, and by changing the default settings of the product (appliance settings, portion sizes, even the size of a paper towel are some default setting examples)
- Make products that last longer
- A product that lasts twice as long is going to have twice the footprint
What Are the Benefits of Reducing a Product's Embodied and Lifetime Energy?
- Cuts you and your customers' costs
- Gives you a competitive advantage
- Leads to world where we are living within our "carbon budget"
- Puts you ahead of the curve because energy will become more expensive and customers prefer "green"
The Treehugger.com founder concluded by emphasizing the silver lining in the process of stepping back and seeing how suppliers' products are made - that it can reveal lots of opportunities for product improvement and greenhouse gas reduction, but also for saving money.
Hill ended his address by saying to Walmart suppliers, "We need you. This is the problem of all problems and you are very much in the driver's seat."
Watch Hill's full address at the Walmart GHG reduction announcement event:
View this and other sustainability-related videos from Walmart at the Walmart video center. Read more about why Walmart's goals and initiatives make a difference in Elizabeth Sturcken's Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) blog post Why Walmart's Carbon Commitment Can Make Such a Difference.
If you are a Walmart supplier, want to better understand your greenhouse gas emissions, and need help addressing the questions of Walmart's Sustainability Index Assessment, we can help. We specialize in helping Walmart suppliers with the Energy & Climate section of the Assessment, including conducting your greenhouse gas inventory and helping you submit your findings to reporting agencies and Walmart. We can also support you in scoring "above target" on the full assessment.
Lastly, check out our new carbon accounting software, Mosaic. It's a simple, scalable and cost effective solution to completing a GHG inventory – watch this video.
Heather Philipp is Director of Media & Communications for Renewable Choice Energy