A sustainability program for most companies means there is a system in place to reduce the waste of materials in the company’s operations and that their processes do as little short-term and long-term negative impact to our environment. The acceptance and implementation of a sustainability program in corporate culture has become much easier to implement over the past few years. The increase of media attention to the topic of climate change, the back and forth of government regulation to help reduce the destruction of our environment and a general need for public involvement in reducing our carbon footprint has become a part of our culture. Just as the need to incorporate recycling of plastic bottles and aluminum cans in our homes and offices grew over the ’80’s and ’90’s we are now hearing the term ‘sustainability’ in a similar way.
Biochar checks the boxes for sustainable practices
To truly be accepted as a sustainable process there are several types of benefits that must be observed. There must be a social benefit, economic and environmental. Biochar production, if managed correctly, will perfectly align with the sweet spot of sustainable manufacturing.
Biochar improves the quality of life in the community by reducing waste and using that same material to improve the soil used for activities, farming and living space. It is also useful for remediation of stormwater and contaminated land. By including biochar in the conversation about soil health and its value to our society we create a healthy awareness of our total ecology.
By reducing waste and improving the productivity of agriculture with a product that will not decompose over 100’s of years we are reducing our cost of maintaining our land and increasing the profit per square foot of agriculture.
The environmental impact of biochar is its primary benefit to our society. Biochar is a Cradle To Grave solution because its original feedstock is returned directly back to the soil it was created in to give that same land the carbon that was removed. Biochar reduces our need for chemical fertilizers, neutralizing the negative impact of existing chemicals in our land and water and improving the soil health is an amazing success. The bonus beyond those qualities is its ability to sequester carbon that would potentially add to our global warming crisis.
Don’t just look at the sky to manage climate change. Look down at the soil.
The underlying goals of sustainable practices is that we aren’t abusing our natural resources and the materials we do use are renewable and manufactured in a responsible manner. So, we don’t offset the good work in using sustainable materials with a negative impact in how we manufacture and distribute the products. Most sustainable programs rely on management of gas emissions, using recycled materials and reducing the use of energy. Their focus is mostly on what we directly pump into the atmosphere.
An overlooked method of sustainable practices is to reduce our carbon footprint by replacing the organic material we use in so many of our products back into the soil. By replacing the carbon that was removed you are sequestering the carbon that could’ve gone up into the atmosphere as CO2 and your allowing the natural processes in the soil to stay healthy and continue its positive impact by holding potentially climate changing emissions in our earth.
How can a company implement sustainable practices?
- Become sensitive to sustainability issues and implement tangible goals to improve the companies operations in sustainable ways.
- Setup a Sustainability office that reviews, plans and supports the implementation of economically feasible sustainable efforts in business operations and manufacturing. This includes the review of vendors and whether they are also using sustainable practices.
- Make sustainable practices a part of the corporate culture and not just a short-term campaign.
- Share the purpose of sustainable measures with all employees.
- A BIOCHAR OPTION: Find items that are used in your company that can be switched out for a sustainable option. For example, if you have potted plants and green spaces in your office add biochar to the potting soil and soil mixes.
- If you company has a large parking lot or is a manufacturer consider using biochar as a remediation barrier between any pollutants and the fields and streams near you.
Sustainable efforts can happen in the home, too
The unfortunate aspect of sustainability in America is that it hasn’t found its way into our homes as easily. The overall perspective is that only large companies can reduce the impact of global warming. Just as using biochar in a corporate sustainability program it can also be used in the home. Your backyard garden, your lawn, potted plants and shrubs can all benefit from using biochar. Each time biochar is placed back into the soil it will help the soil’s health and reduce carbon emissions. Just as recycling a soda can is a seemingly small action but has become a symbol of our society to help the environment the use of biochar in your garden can do the same. And, frankly we need to be doing everything we can at home and in our workplace to make sure this planet can sustain us.
Examples of sustainability programs
There are some standout sustainability programs currently in place with larger companies. UPS has pushed its sustainability efforts to include its customers. They are finding innovative ways to make their shipments as close to carbon neutral as possible. It’s a tall order but could make a dramatic impact if it is achieved. Nestle’s Nespresso division is working with its coffee producers to use sustainable agricultural techniques to reduce its impact on global warming. Nespresso is also using sustainably managed aluminum and plans to reduce its carbon footprint by 10% within the next three years.
Another amazing example of large corporations taking the lead in sustainable practices is Interface, a global leader in flooring manufacturing. Their Climate Take Back initiative is by far one of the most significant sustainability movements you will ever see.
There are also examples of companies that have taken advantage of the sustainable trend just to manipulate some good PR for itself. The high profile issues with Chipotle are a reminder that the world is not willing to let false sustainable claims go unchecked.