Pollution and Corporations

When talking about sustainability, it’s important to know that it’s a layered topic. There are many factors at play that go into sustainability on a global scale. Most of the time, it’s overwhelming to think of sustainability this way, so instead, many people who talk about sustainability often focus on what can be done on an individual level. However, there is one major component that must be at least mentioned.

Just 100 companies are responsible for 71% of all industrial emissions of greenhouse gases. Many corporations have the goal of greenhouse gas emission reduction, but their emissions are happening at every level of the production and consumption process. First, there’s upstream emissions, which come from the physical production of the product. This happens because the product often needs some sort of natural material that has to be harvested, extracted or cultivated. Then there’s the downstream emissions, which are the emissions that come from the product’s use and disposal. Without recognizing these areas of emissions, there’s an area of improvement that’s not being utilized.

For example, Proctor and Gamble, or P&G has an emission reduction goal of 50% by 2030. Currently, P&G’s paper products, including their toilet paper, paper towel and facial tissues are estimated to produce 17.8 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually, due to its use of virgin pulp. So while the idea of 50% reduction sounds fantastic, the reality is that their reduction would only happen on a few levels of the production process. Namely, they would be reducing emissions at their own facilities (their factories/offices) , and those emissions generated by the third parties that P&G buys energy from. This fails to mention the emissions that come from the deforestation needed, the transportation of the product, and the emissions from the disposal of the product. So in reality, the portion of emissions they’re speaking about reducing accounts for 2% of their total emission output. So a 50% reduction would only account for 1% of their total output.

So again, sustainability is a layered topic. Sustainability on an individual scale is very important, because conscientiousness is always the first step towards progress. Now it’s important to apply that conscientiousness to those companies that make a huge impact on the environment, and hold them responsible for the pollution that they’re causing.

2 thoughts on “Pollution and Corporations”

  1. The fact that only 100 companies are responsible for 71% of all industrial greenhouse gases blows my mind away. It truly makes you wonder how these companies have gotten away with this when the pool of them is relatively small.

  2. This is such an important post! Corporations love putting the blame on people so they don’t have to clean their mess up and its sickening. I also really enjoy how informative your post is, this is one of my favorite blogs!

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