Environmentalists have long criticized our corporate behemoths for environmental violations and unsustainable business practices. Walmart, GE, Coca-Cola were once considered toxic to the environment and not the names that came to mind for a green future. However, environmentally friendly announcements over the past few years have challenged this perception.
- Walmart is now the largest seller of CFL lightbulbs and has a goal to use 100 percent renewable energy in its stores;
- GE is the largest supplier of wind turbines in the US and the leader in desalination and water treatment systems;
- and The Coca-Cola Company just won the 2009 Gold Medal for International Corporate Achievement in Sustainable Development from the World Environment Center
For water specifically, recent announcements from IBM have me very excited.
My favorite is the Green Sigma for Water. For those familiar with Six Sigma, IBM is now offering these tools to tackle water usage throughout a company’s operations. Pilot programs have reduced water use by 30 percent.
They also announced the SmartBay sensor system, which monitors pollution levels, marine life, and wave conditions in Galway Bay, Ireland, and allows smarter environmental management and development of the region. The technology uses cloud computing and is one of the first systems to integrate data management and water management.
Their press release has a host of other announcements, but do take a look at their most recent Global Innovation Outlook on Water — it has some interesting takeaways on how private and public groups are working together to solve some of our global issues.
We can always argue that corporations are not doing enough, but I do feel there has been a paradigm shift in the past few years and that these companies will be the new drivers behind many environmental initiatives.