Points for Trying

Companies in industries not inherently eco-friendly are also realizing their powerful impact on the environment. By rethinking old business practices and implementing innovative new programs, here are a few trying to make that impact a positive one…


Delta Air Lines. The third-largest air carrier in the United States, Delta has dramatically reduced its hazardous waste volume 50 percent since 1990, and pioneered single-engine taxiing that cuts fuel consumption by 40 million gallons a year.

Johnson & Johnson. One of the largest makers of health care products, J&J is taking concrete steps to reduce packaging. Just by converting 50 percent of BAND-AID packaging from metal to paperboard, it has already reduced waste by 1.5 million pounds.

Bethlehem Steel. The first integrated steel producer to join the Environmental Protection Agency's climate wise program, its actions are expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1.2 million tons, and electric use by over 400 million kilowatt hours.

AT&T. Besides corporate take-back and waste minimization programs, AT&T uses an ECO-Workplace Analysis tool to measure the personal environmental impact of each employee's work behavior, and shows ways to dramatically reduce that impact.

Frito Lay. Each year, the largest snack food maker in the U.S. recovers over 40 million pounds of potato starch from its wastewater, and more than 400,000 gallons of heating oil are conserved by recovering and reusing heat from potato cooking operations.

Herman Miller. The second-largest maker of office furniture in the U.S. holds semi-annual eco-awareness conferences for employees and suppliers, and a special daylit factory remanufactures like new every kind of furniture the company ever made.

Volvo. Volvo's Environmental Priorities System calculates the cradle-to-grave environmental load of new vehicles, from raw materials and chemicals used to daily emissions and end-of-life disposal. Three models have already been built to these stricter standards.

IBM. The technology powerhouse increasingly designs with disassembly in mind, and now operates 14 take-back programs for end-of-life computers and parts. By 1997, the recovery center in Endicott, New York was reclaiming 35 million pounds per year.

Nike. Despite a public relations nightmare about overseas employment,
Nike has taken environmental strides. It already recycles two million pairs a year into new athletic surfaces, with the ultimate aim of designing shoes for easy disassembly and reuse.

Collins and Aikman Floorcoverings. This carpeter closes the loop by recycling, buying and offering recycled products. As a result, between 1993 and 1998, landfill waste dropped 79 percent per square yard, despite a production increase of 85 percent.