Greenbiz.com recently released their free, downloadable “State of Green Business 2012″ report and some of the statistics are quite surprising. The report begins by explaining the stalemate on green progress by saying that “…sustainable business is suffering a recessionary hangover.” The study goes on to look at 20 key indicators, such as organic agriculture, e-waste, and toxic emissions, to determine whether US businesses are “swimming”, “sinking”, or “treading water”. With 80% of the indicators getting a “Tread” or “Sink” rating, this is a big wake up call that most big companies are not doing their part to make progress towards a sustainable future.
photo by Andrea Della Adriano
One of the more eye opening findings from the review of 2011 was that carbon emissions are outpacing economic growth, which directly translates to a big red alarm that at this pace, stopping global warming is not attainable. “If the United States isn’t able to grow its economy without increasing carbon intensity, then stopping global warming at 2 degrees per year—which scientists say would require a drop in emissions of 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020—is an unreachable goal.”
In 2011, as legislative bodies stalled repeatedly over enacting a proposed federal strategy, 2.44 million tons of e-waste was disposed in the US and abroad. Discarded electronics pose a major health risk when dumped in a landfill, and with technology advancing so quickly, and our consumer want for the newest and greatest, we are creating gadgets that are practically landfill ready only months after they hit store shelves. The silver lining is that there are several manufacturers, such as Dell, pledging to take voluntary action against e-waste. There are also activist groups like Basel Action Network that are keeping this issue at the forefront of national policy for 2012.
We have also had a HUGE setback in toxic emissions and toxics from manufacturing. “Total emissions to air, soil, and water of 27 chemicals that are most prevalent in manufacturing EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory increased a whopping 78 percent from 2009 to 2010, attributed primarily to much larger releases of lead, arsenic, and asbestos.” Softening of regulations in order to allow businesses an attempt at profitability, mostly in metals manufacturing and mining, have been the source of much of this toxic leaching.