What does it mean to consistently be recognized as one of the most sustainable and ethical companies in the world? How can we—through our actions—work to not only continuously reduce our impact, but have a net positive impact on the world? How do we communicate this impact to our employees, our customers, our shareholders? And, importantly, how do we help our clients achieve similar—or even greater—results?
These are the questions that drive the sustainability conversation at Schneider Electric, where we strive to ensure that life is on, for everyone, at every moment. We began our sustainability journey in 2002, before many companies had deeply examined the significance of their footprint on the earth, and our work continues today under the Schneider Sustainability Impact initiative, our own internal measure of the company’s sustainability aspirations and results.
Sustainability must be approached holistically to be effective; Schneider Electric’s approach to sustainability addresses all aspects of our operations as a result. By casting a wide net, we’ve influenced changes in our products, our people policies, our operations, our supply chain, and our clients.
How are we doing it?
1. Reducing our own footprint
We’ve set ambitious goals to further reduce our impacts by 2020, including:
- Achieving 80% renewable electricity globally
- Improving CO2 efficiency in transportation by 10%
- Reaching zero waste at 190 of our operational sites
- Sourcing 100% of our cardboard and pallets for transport packing from recycled or certified sources
We have also made public commitments to several global objectives, including the RE100, the EP100, and the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi), in addition to annually disclosing our global emissions to CDP.
We’ve gone a step further through our partnership with the Global Footprint Network (GFN), a not-for-profit organization working to raise awareness of Earth Overshoot Day, an indicator which marks the date when humanity’s level of resource consumption exceeds the Earth’s capacity for the year. In 2017, this day occurred on August 2. Our partnership with GFN is encouraging people around the world to use the Footprint Calculator to understand and reduce their own resource footprint.
2. Commitment to a circular economy
We often behave as though resources are infinite on a planet where they certainly are not. Each year, the global economy uses 90+ billion tons of natural resources, of which only 8% is reused, equivalent to 1.7 Earths’ worth. Though not typically valued on a balance sheet, these resources are worth trillions of dollars to our global economy. This linear model of take-make-dispose is not sustainable.
Recognizing this, Schneider Electric has made a commitment to developing models of circularity to increase the longevity of the products we sell and the natural resources upon which they depend. We’ve joined the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s CE100 and are designing our products and processes to improve efficiency, reduce waste, and innovate. We’re also working with our suppliers to develop cleaner, more efficient manufacturing, packaging, and transport. By 2020, we intend to avoid 100,000 tons of primary resource consumption through recycling, take-back programs, and our Ecofit™ retrofit service, which helps return existing equipment to optimum performance and an extended lifespan.
3. Our own eco label
A key component to Schneider Electric’s circular approach has been the development of our own voluntary eco label, Green Premium. The label goes beyond any existing minimum compliance standard and is awarded only to products that:
- Meet RoHS requirements
- Comply with stringent REACh regulations
- Have a comprehensive Product Environmental Profile (PEP)
- Include End-of-Life Instructions (EoLi)
Green Premium products comprise nearly 75% of our sales, which is more than 150,000 product references. Under the Green Premium label, consumers are assured that the products they are buying promise:
- Trust via transparency and compliance with some of the most rigorous environmental standards in the world
- Resource efficiency as they have been produced in an environment that is diligently measuring and reducing energy, carbon emissions, water, and waste
- Circularity through our repair, retrofit, take-back, and recycling programs
- Safety as our Green Premium products are non-toxic
4. Energy accessibility for all
Our desire to influence sustainability extends beyond our walls, as we recognize that access to energy for everyone, at any time, is a fundamental human right. Through our Access to Energy program, we aspire to train more than 350,000 underprivileged people in energy management by 2020.
We recognize that access and inclusion affects our own staff and communities as well. As a result, we provide our employees, globally, with family leave—the first employer in our industry to do so. We’re also actively engaged on gender equity as an IMPACT Champion with the HeforShe movement. We also proudly support our employees’ engagement in their communities and will achieve 12,000 volunteer days by 2020 thanks to our VolunteerIn global platform.
And our Go Green in the City annual business case challenge encourages undergraduate and graduate students in business and engineering from across the world to develop innovative solutions to our most pressing urban problems.
5. Advising the largest companies in the world on energy and sustainability
We don’t just walk our own talk; we’re a leader in helping other companies do the same. Our Energy & Sustainability Services (ESS) division consults with thousands of global organizations—ranging from the largest of the Global 500 to K-12 schools—on energy procurement, energy efficiency, and sustainability strategies, helping these institutions reduce their resource consumption, energy spend, and emissions.
As energy evolves and a new, more decentralized Meshgrid Ecosystem emerges, our clients are seeking help to set goals, develop strategies, and reach their targets across these domains through active energy management. Many are themselves members of the RE100, EP100, EV100, and CE100, or have set a science-based target, and turn to Schneider Electric ESS for our advice and expertise.
Long considered an unbiased, independent, and trusted consultant, the ESS division works with Schneider Electric clients in more than 100 countries, and has over 40 million metric tons of CO2 under management. The division is also the world’s largest renewable energy buyer’s advisor to commercial, industrial, and institutional (C&I) purchasers, having advised on more than 3.5 gigawatts of new renewable energy project development globally.
At Schneider Electric, sustainability impacts—and we’re working every day to ensure that our impact is better and better. How can we help you achieve your sustainability goals this Earth Day?
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