Waste reduction is the most important environmental issue facing manufacturing businesses today, according to an international study on sustainability and environmental trends conducted by Harris Interactive for Dow Corning Corporation.
Eight out of ten managers and professionals in the U.S., Brazil, Italy and Germany rank it as a higher priority than other environmental factors such as increasing energy efficiency or developing green products.But the study of more than 1,000 people also reveals how attitudes about sustainability vary across the world. Managers in China, Korea and India for example, consider the development of green products as a more important driver than CO2 emissions, use of clean/renewable energy sources or waste reduction.
“While the focus today may be on dealing with waste, in the future I anticipate we’ll see more emphasis on areas such as CO2 emissions and use of renewable energy sources as the whole issue of climate change gets more attention,” said Peter Cartwright, Dow Corning executive director for environment, health and safety.
Globally, customers are seen as the most important and the media as the least important influences on sustainability and environmental decisions. However there are marked differences between countries. In Korea, four out of ten managers rank the government as the number one influencer compared to 12 percent in Germany and 14 percent in the U.S.
Environmental & Sustainability programs have a strong influence on whether a company will be considered as a potential supplier. On average, eight out of ten companies globally say that environmental and sustainability factors are taken into account when they select suppliers. In India, one in two managers consider environment/sustainability factors of critical importance – a significantly higher level than their counterparts in China.
Company reputation is not seen as the main factor driving a company’s decision making around environmental activities. In all countries surveyed (except Korea), the health, safety of employees, customers and suppliers was rated as the most important influence. Managers in Korea, viewed the long term sustainability of their business as the most important factor.