Following up ob Gad’s post on the Triple Bottom Line, let’s think about what sustainable manufacturing looks like. Here is one version. Taylor Companies is an Ohio-based company that makes office furniture. According to Marketplace (Reducing trash saves company cash, Jan 6), 90% of the trash the firm produced gets reused or recycle. This ranges from sending tons of sawdust to a horse farm that mixes it with manure to make compost to selling leather scraps to maker of purses and wallets. On an item-by-item basis, this seems like small potatoes. They get $900 for the leather scraps as opposed to paying to have them hauled away. But the overall impact is meaningful and Taylor’s CEO Jeff Baldassari has a nice way of putting them in perspective:
BALDASSARI: I am not a treehugger by any means. But by the same token, I’m a huge, huge fan of sustainability.
And here’s why: With all the savings on trash, plus energy efficient machinery, Taylor saves about $100,000 a year.
BALDASSARI: The guys in the factory, if I tell them, Hey, we save $100,000 a year by diverting this waste and saving on energy, they’ll think that’s three jobs that have been saved. If I talk to people in marketing, they’ll say that’s $2 million of sales. That’s the net profit from $2 million in sales. If I talk to people in accounting, they’ll think “Our overhead is less.”
I find these numbers interesting. Comparing the savings to the amount of sales needed to generate the same profit is an enlightening way to present the data. In an economy in which generating an extra $2 million in sales is pretty tough, finding the equivalent profit from changing how you deal with scraps and waste could be compelling.