IHS Chemical Week

CHEM IDEAS

New Challenge:  Build Environmental Responsibility into Your Budget

10:51 AM MST | February 15, 2011 | By JIM ALDER

I’m issuing a challenge to chemical companies worldwide. Build environmental responsibility into your operating budgets.

Some companies primarily look at protecting our environment – waste, water, energy, air – from the regulatory perspective; others simply meet the minimum requirements laws dictate, and they fail to consider potential positive financial effects.

There’s another way to look at environmental responsibility that makes it a choice for companies. By changing the way the industry thinks, companies can positively impact the environment as well as the bottom line.

Celanese makes environmental responsibility a strategic and worthwhile effort because it creates value for all of our stakeholders – from employees to customers and shareholders to communities. Sustainability, which at Celanese includes safety, integrity and responsibility, isn’t just a priority, but the foundation on which all other priorities are based. Here are a few examples:

•    Companies that anticipate their customer’s needs can make a tremendous impression on their own and their customers’ environmental impact – from the products and services they produce to where and how they produce them. If customers are in China and Brazil, then produce products or services in Asia and South America. This simplifies the supply chain and lowers expenses and environmental impact.

•    We all face the challenge of budgeting for fluctuating energy costs. The Celanese plant in Bishop, Texas, reduced its energy consumption by more than 34,000 MMBTU and cut GHG output by almost 2,000 tons of carbon dioxide. Over time, the annual savings is expected to total more than 130,000 MMBTU of energy and 7,500 tons of carbon dioxide, resulting in reduced emissions, lower costs and reduced risk.

•    Finally, we all expect new ‘clean energy’ legislation of some kind. If we take a proactive approach, it will provide time for more realistic solutions instead of waiting for legal deadlines to drive us. To remain ahead, our Lanaken, Belgium facility uses wind farms to generate 50% of its required energy.

Each of these examples has long-term positive impact on the environment as well as our bottom line. Any company that takes similar giant steps can see the same effects.

As with any major initiative, companies must set long-term environmental goals and interim targets that stretch the organization beyond its comfort zone. If goals aren’t aggressive, they won’t create the motivation for tough, transformational decisions. To help guide these goals, companies should look outward, both within and outside the industry, to evaluate what sustainability means and what ‘good’ looks like.

So maybe we don’t have an actual budget line item called “environmental responsibility.” However, every practice, product and process works together to reduce the company’s environmental footprint while also enhancing our financial performance – something that indeed has a positive impact on our annual budget.

Jim Alder is senior vice president at Celanese. For more information, visit celanese.com.












 
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