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How Business Influences Climate Change Policy

(Poznan, Poland, Dec. 11, 2008) Unless your business tries to buy its way into political office (apparently this still happens in some countries), business and industry have limited ability to influence the outcome of next year’s Copenhagen Protocol, the successor climate change treaty to Kyoto. The negotiating parties are solely government ministers of some 190 countries.

One of the most influential non-governmental organizations successfully influencing climate change policy is the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. And the United States Business Council focuses on implementing pilot projects that turn into case studies that get elevated to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change Conference via the World Business Council.

Andrew Mangan, executive director of the U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development, is proud to have watched one such pilot project, called By-product Synergy (BPS), become an official recommendation from the World Business Council.

“We bring together executives from the disparate companies in one region, in a non-regulatory setting,” said Mangan. “They talk candidly about their waste output and we help them find ways to turn one company’s by-product into the other company’s feedstock.”

An example cited in the WBCSD report is the process set up by US BCSD in Kansas City, which identified 29 commercially viable synergies with the potential to divert 30,000 tons annually from landfills. Cook Composites and Polymers is one participant in the Kansas City project. At first the company only wanted to find a better way to dispose of 500 tons of a material. But through the BPS forum they have begun to look at how they could change their products to meet the needs of new markets and are now developing alternatives to fiber-glass boat hulls using organic fibers.

Participating BPS companies are saving money, significantly reducing unused output, lowering carbon emissions and seeing opportunities for new products increase.

Mangan added, “We find that first-time participants in BPS frequently change their internal culture to set goals for “100 Percent Product,” without anything leaving their factories considered to be a waste liability.”

In addition to escalating their energy efficiency programs, companies can participate in one of several By-product Synergy programs, realizing a new day in manufacturing through an emerging circular economy: eliminating waste equals increasing profits.

More information is available at their Web site.

Kevin Tuerff is CEO of Green Canary Sustainability Consulting and cofounder of EnviroMedia Social Marketing.

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