U.S. companies become more sustainable every day

Mike Morris Contributor
Font Size:

In an interview I gave this time last year, I spoke about how my company, American Electric Power, has been pushing the technology envelope for more than a century. We realized early on — and believe it even more today — that developing sustainable technologies was one of those areas where somebody had to step up and get things done.

My comments came amid a growing debate within Washington over climate and energy issues. One year later, as these debates continue, many of America’s leading companies have progressed in providing their own solutions.

The members of Business Roundtable, representing nearly $6 trillion in annual revenues and more than 13 million employees, have joined American Electric Power in this pursuit. Their efforts — from developing new energy-efficient technologies to providing safe, clean water sources in developing nations to creating business solutions that reduce customers and suppliers carbon footprints — demonstrate how our member companies are challenging themselves to do things better, smarter and with results that improve the lives we live.

For AT&T, this meant working closely with its supply chain to bring innovative and sustainable products to market. One such product is a charger that automatically cuts the power supply from a wall socket when it senses that a mobile device is not connected; another is a quick-messaging device that not only has a casing made of 70 percent post-consumer recycled plastic, but also has packaging that uses 80 percent post-consumer recycled paper and soy ink.

At the Eaton Corporation, the answer was providing hybrid power systems to help cities and businesses run cleaner, greener, and more responsible commercial fleets. To date, these hybrid systems have accumulated more than 100 million miles of service — that’s more than four million gallons of fuel saved and more than 40,000 tons of emissions reduced.

The Hertz Corporation is finding answers through “Hertz Global EV,” the first program in both the United States and Europe to provide a range of electric vehicles (EV) and plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles on a rental and car-sharing basis along with the charging network to enable such a system. This will compliment the more than 35,000 fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly vehicles — including 5,000 hybrids — which Hertz already offers its customers through The Green Collection.

These are just a few examples of the success stories told in our 2011 Sustainability Report — Innovating Sustainability. In this report, 115 chief executive officers share how they are addressing sustainability using innovative approaches that are smart business choices and raise the quality of life on our planet. The range of challenges and opportunities they face is met with creative, innovative thinking that solves problems and provides for profitable economic growth — the essence of a sustainable business.

Business Roundtable is committed to helping Washington find answers, and we invite policymakers to read our report and learn from the best practices the private sector has to offer. In the meantime, our members will continue to move the needle on technology. We will continue to step up and get things done through innovative technologies, strategies and programs that make our operations and our value chains more sustainable.

Mike Morris is the CEO of American Electric Power.