DELAWARE, Ohio, Aug. 8, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Executives from 80 leading corporations, NGOs and other organizations based in the U.S. Midwest – and reporting an aggregated $2.1 trillion in revenue – met to discuss how their organizations could accelerate their sustainable practices at the second annual World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) U.S. Midwest Conference.
Held on the Columbus, Ohio campus of The Ohio State University on Aug. 2, the conference was co-sponsored by Greif, Inc. (NYSE: GEF, GEF.B), SC Johnson, Battelle and the Dow Chemical Company.
Representatives from the invited organizations discussed U.S. water trends; tactics that companies can employ to promote and accelerate more sustainable consumption; and the implications of Rio+20 for corporations. Organizations also shared best practices to foster collaboration at the national and regional levels.
Greif Executive Chairman Michael Gasser welcomed the group, setting the tone for the day. "This meeting is action oriented," he said. "So first, I challenge us all to reach a combined 1 percent water and energy use reduction by next year's conference."
Gasser continued, "Sustainability drives innovation for corporate leaders who are managing their businesses for long-term growth – and creating a better future for their children's children."
In his keynote remarks, WBCSD President Peter Bakker said, "Everyone talks about sustainability, but the world is not getting better. We need radical change. We need to act now."
According to the WBCSD report Vision 2050, nine billion people will share the planet by mid-century. Twenty-nine leading global companies from 14 industries collaborated to write the report, which resulted from an 18-month combined effort of CEOs, sustainability experts and more than 200 companies and external stakeholders in 20 countries. It features agreed-upon must-haves if the world's population in 2050 is to live well and within the limits of the planet's resources.
Geneva, Switzerland-based Bakker said, "If we are to save the world, it is business that will have to do it, and the U.S. must lead.
"The question is, how can we scale up sustainability as part of the core of our business, as part of the core of our economic model to truly transform the world?"
Bakker said businesses can start by initiating sustainable best practices in their sectors, then continue with cross-sector innovation, consider the "eco-costs" of their value chain decisions, define the rules of business for reporting and develop an MBA for the future. Businesses must balance their financial, natural and social capital to create the radical change that is necessary to address the resource challenges that are looming.
Keynote speakers were Battelle CEO Jeffrey Wadsworth, and Patrick Doherty and Colonel Mark Mykleby of the New America Foundation.
Panelists included representatives from Kimberly-Clark Corporation, The Dow Chemical Company, Veolia Water, American Electric Power, Clean Water America Alliance, Unilever, PepsiCo, PwC, Greif, Inc., SustainAbility, GlobeScan, The Sustainability Consortium, Full Economic Citizenship Initiative, Groundswell, TruCost and the Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University.
About the World Business Council for Sustainable Development WBCSD brings together forward-thinking corporate leaders who galvanize the global business community to create a sustainable future for business, society and the environment. The CEO-led global association is composed of approximately 200 environmentally responsible companies and is committed to providing business leadership as a catalyst for change toward sustainable development. The Council provides a platform for companies to explore sustainable development and share knowledge, experiences and best practices.
About Greif, Inc. Greif, Inc., a leading global industrial packaging manufacturer, has a long-term commitment to creating and engaging in sustainable business practices and supporting humanitarian relief efforts. Greif has invested in manufacturing process improvements that reduce waste, energy and water use. In addition, Greif developed a durable, low-cost backpack that eases the burden of human transport of clean water in developing economies, partnering with Impact Economics for distribution. The backpack, PackH2O, has been proven in use in Haiti, Guatemala, Uganda and Kenya, and was designed to create local community business opportunities. Greif's goal is to sell and distribute 100 million backpacks around the world by 2017.
For more information about Greif's sustainability achievements, see www.greif.com/sustainability.
SOURCE Greif, Inc.