By Pamela Gordon, Technology Forecasters ( http://www.techforecasters.com )
I recently attended two presentations by electronics companies at the Green Manufacturing Expo, a conference I chaired in Anaheim, Calif., that ought to inspire even those who are most skeptical that green can be profitable.
In one, a Nokia manager explained how it had reduced its environmental impact by down-sizing cell phone packaging. In the other, a Hewlett Packard manager discussed its product stewardship initiative. I’ll report on Nokia today and on HP in a future post.
Two years ago, Nokia reduced by half the size of the box for its cell phone. According to David Conrad, head of environment for Nokia North America, about 250 million phones – half the total sold from February 2006 to the end of 2007 – have been shipped in the new box, for a savings of $150 million in materials and transportation.
Nokia can put 1,100 new boxes on a shipping pallet, compared with 480 old boxes, which results in 5,000 fewer tractor trailers on the road. The new packaging, made entirely of recycled paperboard stock containing 55 percent post-consumer recycled content, has saved about 855 trees, eliminated nearly 5,000 pounds of waterborne waste, and diverted more than 77,000 pounds of landfill waste – to name just some of the environmental advantages to date.
Conrad said the only way to have a substantial environmental impact is to challenge convention. Nokia had to get diverse thinking involved in the process. For example, whatever marketing people might lack technically, they more than make up for with creativity. “You have to challenge convention, re-ask questions that have been answered again and again, to make people rethink the way products can be designed, manufactured, and packaged,” he said.
Nokia has been a leader in the green movement in other bold ways. For example, it recently released a cell phone with a case made of plant-based plastic, not petroleum based. Conrad explained the reason for Nokia’s commitment: “Corporate sustainability and environmental sustainability are not mutually exclusive or mutually agreeable; they are mutually dependent.”
That’s exactly the point we’ve been making for 10 years at Technology Forecasters. How do you see it? Do you want to make corporate sustainability and environmental sustainability mutually dependent at your company?