BUSINESS

9 Companies That Are Changing Their Habits To Save Our Planet

Climate change is not simply an environmental issue. It's a business problem.

Ahead of the global climate negotiations in Paris this December, some of the world's largest corporations are finally coming together to take a stand on the importance of combatting climate change.

As of Sept. 18, this so-called We Mean Business coalition of organizations working with nearly 200 businesses and over 100 investors committed to promoting sustainable operating practices and facilitating the transition to a low-carbon global economy. The sentiment here is that climate change is not simply an environmental issue; it's also an important economic opportunity for those willing to step up to the challenge.

Members of the group come from a spectrum of professional fields and industries -- technology, food, automotive, fashion and more -- and operate in countries all over the world. The Huffington Post asked 9 of these companies what sustainability means to them and how they're positioning themselves to become leaders in tomorrow's low-carbon economy.

Here's what they told us: 

  • 1 Hewlett-Packard Company
    In 2014, the company reduced its carbon footprint by 10 percent compared to 2013 levels, with considerabl
    Justin Sullivan via Getty Images
    In 2014, the company reduced its carbon footprint by 10 percent compared to 2013 levels, with considerable emission reduction related to its supply chain and product use. 

    Investment in renewable energy sources is also key to HP's environmental strategy. The company has increased installed capacity for on-site renewable energy at its facilities by 150 percent.

    In 2015, it signed a 12-year purchase agreement for 112 megawatts of wind power with renewable energy company SunEdison. This contract will allow HP to reach its 2020 operational greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals by the end of the 2015 fiscal year, five years ahead of schedule.

    "Climate change is one of the most critical environmental, economic and societal challenges facing the world today," said Gabi Zedlmayer, vice president and chief progress officer. "At HP, we are working to reduce our carbon footprint across our entire value chain, fundamentally rethinking the way we do business to help drive a low-carbon economy."

    (More about HP's efforts here.)
  • 2 H&M
    H&amp;M is the world's No. 1&nbsp;user of organic cotton.&nbsp;<br><br>In 2015, it committed to procuring&nbsp;100 percent of
    Michael Gottschalk via Getty Images
    H&M is the world's No. 1 user of organic cotton. 

    In 2015, it committed to procuring 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources whenever possible. 

    Electricity to power H&M stores represents more than 80 percent of the company's total energy use. But by 2020, the company plans to cut how much electricity it uses per square meter by 20 percent, compared to where it was in 2007.

    “We believe that we all have a responsibility to meet climate challenges," the company said in a statement. "So we want to be as climate smart as possible -- for example, by only using renewable energy in our stores, offices and warehouses wherever this is credibly available and feasible.”

    (More about H&M's efforts here.)
  • 3 L'Oréal
    In 2015, L&rsquo;Or&eacute;al USA announced it&nbsp;cut its&nbsp;CO2 emissions by 57 percent from a&nbsp;2005 baseline, savin
    Bloomberg via Getty Images
    In 2015, L’Oréal USA announced it cut its CO2 emissions by 57 percent from a 2005 baseline, saving nearly 60,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide. The ultimate goal is to reduce its environmental footprint 60 percent by 2020. 

    Aside from cutting CO2 emissions, the company is investing in numerous renewable energy projects, including solar panel use at facilities in Mexico, India, Germany and the U.S. 

    L’Oréal pledges that 100 percent of products will have an environmental or social benefit, and that 100 percent of strategic suppliers will be evaluated on their social and environmental performance.

    "L'Oréal USA is deeply committed to reducing our carbon footprint and improving our environmental performance through innovative sustainability solutions," said Jonathan Maher, vice president for corporate social responsibility and sustainability.

    (More about L'Oréal's efforts here.)
  • 4 IKEA
    The company has pledged that by 2020 it would generate renewable energy to match 100 percent of its energy needs.&nbsp;In 201
    Bloomberg via Getty Images
    The company has pledged that by 2020 it would generate renewable energy to match 100 percent of its energy needs. In 2014, it generated renewable energy equivalent to 42 percent of its total energy consumption.

    In 2015, IKEA Group and IKEA Foundation announced that they would spend $1.13 billion on renewable energy and on communities at risk.

    IKEA owns and operates 314 offsite wind turbines and has installed 700,000 solar panels on its buildings.

    "Our coworkers, operations and supply chain are already being affected by more frequent extreme weather, and unchecked climate change will affect millions of people in our direct supply chain and beyond," said Steve Howard, the company's chief officer of sustainability. "But the transition to a low-carbon economy offers huge opportunities, bringing new jobs, economic growth and energy security. For IKEA Group, taking action on climate change is a driver of innovation, investment and renewal."

    (More about IKEA's efforts here.)
  • 5 Xerox Corporation
    In 2003, Xerox was an early adopter of greenhouse gas reduction targets across its worldwide operations. The company successf
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    In 2003, Xerox was an early adopter of greenhouse gas reduction targets across its worldwide operations. The company successfully achieved more than a 39 percent reduction since then. 

    Xerox has also been minimizing its environmental impact through recycling efforts. In 2009, it pledged a 50 percent reduction in waste to landfills by 2015. The company reached this target three years early and, in 2013, surpassed it. 

    One hundred percent of Xerox's new eligible products have met current Energy Star requirements, the international benchmark for energy-efficient consumer products.

    "Our commitment to reduce the carbon footprint of our workplaces and those of our customers is grounded in our core values established over 50 years ago," said Diane O’Connor, vice president for environment, health, safety and sustainability.

    "We market our services and products using the tag lines of 'printing can work better,' 'transportation can work better' and 'healthcare can work better.' Better is from the perspective of cost, productivity and environmental benefits and it applies across all the sectors we service," she added.

    (More about Xerox's efforts here.)
  • 6 Kellogg Company
    For its 2020 goals, the firm has pledged to&nbsp;increase the number of plants using low-carbon energy by 50 percent and to i
    Vince Talotta via Getty Images
    For its 2020 goals, the firm has pledged to increase the number of plants using low-carbon energy by 50 percent and to implement water reuse projects in 25 percent of its sites. It is also committed to achieving zero net deforestation in high-risk supply chains such as soy, palm oil, timber and fiber.

    In 2014, the company achieved a 25 percent reduction of waste to landfills since its baseline year of 2009. 

    "The body of science behind climate change has grown clearer and more focused," Diane Holdorf, chief sustainability officer, said in a statement. "Failure to address climate change will make it difficult for our children's generation to have a higher quality of life. For companies like Kellogg, we understand the risks for our security of supply as well as food security to feed the world's population."

    "However," she went on to say, "we recognize that we cannot do it alone. We Mean Business brings together like-minded companies and organizations to bring about an economy that is less harmful to the environment."

    (More about Kellogg's efforts here.)
  • 7 Nissan
    Electric vehicles&nbsp;are at the heart of Nissan's environmental efforts. The company has sold more than 185,000 Nissan Leaf
    TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA via Getty Images
    Electric vehicles are at the heart of Nissan's environmental efforts. The company has sold more than 185,000 Nissan Leaf electric cars around the world -- 83,000 in the U.S. alone. 

    Nissan was named the No. 1 full-line manufacturer in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s annual “Trends” report. Its fleet-wide fuel economy rating of 26.2 combined mpg exceeds the industry average of 23.3.

    Two full-time workers in each of Nissan’s factories are dedicated to identifying and repairing air leaks in manufacturing equipment. In the team’s first year, they located and repaired more than 3,500 energy-wasting leaks.

    "Nissan's commitment to sustainability incorporates a variety of activities, from delivering the world's first electric vehicle (EV) designed for the mass market to becoming the most fuel-efficient full-line manufacturer in the Environmental Protection Agency's annual fuel economy review and reducing energy consumption within our manufacturing operations," said Paige Presley, EV and technology communications.

    (More about Nissan's efforts here.)
  • 8 Unilever
    Across its manufacturing network, Unilever&nbsp;has reduced its&nbsp;energy consumption by 20 percent, saving 1 million metri
    KOEN SUYK via Getty Images
    Across its manufacturing network, Unilever has reduced its energy consumption by 20 percent, saving 1 million metric tons of CO2 since 2008. Its low-carbon practices have also saved it $278 million.

    The company has achieved its target of sending zero non-hazardous manufacturing waste to landfills.

    Unilever is a member of the RE100, a group of companies moving toward 100 percent renewable energy.

    “The effects of climate change threaten us all, impacting both consumers and the supply chain and often hitting the poorest communities the hardest. Businesses and governments need to take urgent action, as these climate-induced extreme weather events will only become more frequent in the future," the company told HuffPost, adding, "If we don’t all tackle climate change in a constructive way, global growth will be stifled."

    (More about Unilever's efforts here.)
  • 9 Mars
    Between 2007 and 2014,&nbsp;Mars reduced its fossil fuel-based energy use by 9 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by 5 perc
    Bloomberg via Getty Images
    Between 2007 and 2014, Mars reduced its fossil fuel-based energy use by 9 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by 5 percent.

    It has partnered with global trading company Sumitomo Corporation of Americas and the developer BNB Renewable Energy Holdings to build the Mesquite Creek Wind Farm in Lamesa, Texas. The farm is now producing the equivalent of 100 percent of the company's U.S. power needs, or 12 percent of its global energy requirements. 

    By the end of 2015, the renewable energy Mars uses will be almost 300 times what it was in 2007.

    "Society is faced with immense challenges, including climate change, water scarcity and deforestation," said Barry Parkin, chief sustainability and health and wellbeing officer. "We can recognize our ability to help make a difference in tackling them and the positive difference big business can have. As a family business, we have the freedom to take a long-term view and to invest in innovative and sustainable practices that will allow us to achieve this, while continuing to grow as a successful business."

    (More about Mars's efforts here.)
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