Reduce. Reuse. Replace.
Three words, otherwise known as the “waste hierarchy,” have been bouncing
around in my head as the editorial staff researched and wrote the stories contained
in the May 2011 issue of Profit.
Maybe it’s because I’m a child of that era, but edicts to reduce, reuse, and recycle
have defined my view of environmental responsibility. And while there are many
more-complex and more-detailed models for executing and managing corporate
sustainability programs, the simple waste hierarchy still offers a good framework for
strategic thinking on the subject, with replace as a substitute for recycle.
Reduce. From what I learned this issue, reduce is pretty much synonymous with “improving efficiency”—
and represents the fastest path to mitigating a company’s environmental impact. For example, managers can
reduce the energy associated with logistics by using technology to optimize shipments (see “Shipping More with
Less,” page 11). Or, they can switch from paper-based reporting to a cloud-based solution and eliminate tons of
printed material from existing processes (see “Expert Reporting,” page 25). In either case, reduce requires smart
managers to look at established processes and remove obvious inefficiencies.
Replace. While it might differ from what to do with your empty soda cans, replace makes more sense for the
enterprise. It means supplanting outmoded systems and processes with modern, efficient solutions. IT-driven
businesses might look to swap outdated servers in the datacenter for newer, less-power-hungry machines. Oracle’s
“Cash for Clunkers” program was designed for just that reason: to help customers scrap costly and inefficient
servers in favor of Oracle’s SPARC Enterprise M8000 and M9000 products.
Reduce. Reuse. Replace. It’s about more than altruism—it’s about smart business.
Editor in Chief, Profit