Nearly two decades ago, John Elkington coined the phrase “the triple bottom line.” Its philosophy is that companies should scrutinize three sets of results when evaluating their business: profit, people, and planet.
The triple bottom line is not a new theme to many U.S. aggregate operators. Nearly half of respondents to an Aggregates Manager Reader Survey noted their company has a formal environmental management system or auditing process in place. More than a third said that system or auditing process is embedded in a corporate business strategy. These operators already understand the impact of their efforts on the triple bottom line, but they have gained insights worth sharing.
Profits: Profits don’t have to suffer under green initiatives. One lesson that many producers shared is that sustainability initiatives often actually add to, rather than detract from, the bottom line. Some operators seek alternative energy sources to help run their plants. Others look for ways to minimize consumption of traditional energy sources by increasing operational efficiencies. Even in the cases where financial investment was required to pursue these initiatives, many utilize grants, as well as public and private partnerships, to provide the capital.
People: People recognize an operator’s responsible actions. Another interesting theme we heard was the positive public response to sustainability efforts. Aggregate managers are working with schools, wildlife groups, and leaders of local government to promote responsible land use before, during, and after mining. These are the types of actions that can — and will — change the mindsets of NIMBY radicals who may not yet have learned that a responsible aggregate operation is a significant asset to the community.
Planet: Producers take pride in being part of sustainability efforts that protect the planet’s future. If anything came as a bit of a surprise, it was that many operators pursue green operating practices simply because of a fundamental belief that it is the right thing to do. Several sources said they were not pursuing sustainability initiatives purely as a means of compliance. They are truly efforts that engage and motivate them and their employees.
If your company isn’t among the half of our readers who have already started down the path toward greener operations, consider the impact they could have on your triple bottom line and take the first step.
3 Things I Learned From This Issue
1. Companies can use their environmental management system as a launching point for ISO 14001 certification, page 5.
2. The amount of energy generated by solar panels correlates to their cleanliness, page 29.
3. When creating wetlands, use native plants that can “out-compete” invasive ones, page 39.