Increasing Corporate Sustainability Policy Effectiveness

Many corporations offer a sustainability segment on their websites, which outlines short and long-term corporate sustainability goals as well as highlights the progress already achieved. A “Corporate Sustainability Policy” typically accompanies this agenda to demonstrate the standards and practices that support the company’s environmental goals. Statistically, businesses that actively engage in and promote their sustainability practices have a competitive edge in the marketplace. Providing the policy for public viewing expresses the corporation’s commitment to environmental, social and economic responsibility, as well as increases value in the eyes of potential and current employees.

However, the Corporate Sustainability Policy may not be as effectively conveyed internally to current employees as much as it is displayed for the public. Most corporate employees are well versed in the human resource policies in areas such as vacation days and sick leave, but have little knowledge of the actual sustainability practices of the company. A solution to this challenge is to deliver and translate the Corporate Sustainability Policy to employees on a regular basis (such as is the standard procedure with human resource policies) coupled with education and training. This method of dispersing the policy could potentially increase motivation and participation, ultimately leading to real change and positive progress.

Waste Management offers an example of how to effectively present a sustainability program. It outlines ways in which the corporation is “contributing to a more sustainable world,” as well as provides links to past Corporate Sustainability Reports. Waste Management’s Sustainability Services helps businesses develop sustainability programs, implement comprehensive environmental policies, as well as provide educational resources and training for employees. When valued corporate-wide, embraced and adhered to at every level, a Sustainability Policy becomes fundamental and demonstrates a genuine commitment to environmental stewardship.

For more information about implementing a Sustainability Policy or training and educational resources, contact Waste Management Sustainability Services at 877-441-3046 or visit

About the Author

Waste Management

Waste Management, Inc. is North America's leading provider of integrated environmental solutions. We partner with our customers and communities to manage and reduce waste from collection to disposal while recovering valuable resources and creating clean, renewable energy.

Our 45,000 employees are committed to Environmental Performance — our mission to maximize resource value, while minimizing environmental impact so that both our economy and our environment can thrive. Serving over 20 million residential, industrial, municipal and commercial customers, Waste Management posted $12.52 billion of revenues in 2010.

Drawing on our resources and experience, we actively pursue projects and initiatives that benefit the waste industry, the communities we serve and the environment.

• Waste Management uses waste to create enough energy to power more than 1 million homes every year. By 2020, we expect to double that output, creating enough energy to power more than 2 million homes.

• As North America’s largest recycler, Waste Management managed more than 7 million tons of recyclable commodities in 2009. By the year 2020, we expect to increase the amount of material we manage to more than 20 million tons per year.

• By the end of 2009, Waste Management had 119 landfill-gas-to-energy projects producing 540 megawatts of power, the equivalent of powering approximately 400,000 homes.

• At the end of 2009, we had more than 800 natural gas-powered trucks in our fleet, with plans to add 200 more in 2010. During the year, we also used technology to reduce the fuel burn of every truck in our fleet. When fully implemented, this is expected to save 9 million gallons of fuel per year.

• Our wholly owned subsidiary Wheelabrator Technologies owns or operates 16 waste-to-energy plants and five independent power production facilities in the U.S. that generate enough energy to power more than 900,000 homes.

• Through a joint venture with the Linde Group, we have built a plant that converts landfill gas into liquefied natural gas for use as fuel in our trucks. The facility is currently producing 13,000 gallons per day.

• At the end of 2009, we had a total of 73 WHC-certified sites. We also set a goal to have 25,000 acres dedicated solely to nature preservation by 2020, and we have nearly reached that goal: at year-end, we had 24,000 protected acres.

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