The Cutting Edge of Environmental Management

By Smith, Sandy | Occupational Hazards, February 2002 | Go to article overview

The Cutting Edge of Environmental Management

Smith, Sandy, Occupational Hazards

At Weyerhaeuser, a commitment to environmental management sprouted at the top with the CEO and spread until its roots were planted deep in every employee. Sara Schreiner Kendall cultivates the company's efforts.

The journey to being a responsible corporate citizen began 100 years ago at Weyerhaeuser, and there's no end in sight. The Washington-based forest products giant is committed to having all operations capable of certification to the ISO 14001 environmental management system standard by 2005.

It's a lofty goal, admits Sara Schreiner Kendall, vice president of environment, health and safety (EHS) for the company, but one she is confident the company will meet.

Weyerhaeuser selected ISO 14001, a voluntary, international environmental management standard, because it is best suited to the company's large-scale forestry and manufacturing units in the United States, Canada and the Southern Hemisphere. ISO 14001 requires proactive management and total employee involvement, similar to the ISO 9000 quality management system standard. The management component, a strong commitment to environmental management, is already in place.

"Weyerhaeuser has five core company values," she says. "One of them says we support the communities where we do business - citizenship. Basically, it means we hold in high value our ethical and environmental responsibilities."

The company takes great pride in its annual Citizenship Report, which showcases its commitment to employee safety, environmental management and community involvement by detailing environmental and business practices and their impact on stakeholders. Stakeholders are defined by the company as customers, employees and residents in the communities where Weyerhaeuser does business.

The most recent Citizenship Report, like others before it, contains a message from Steven Rogel, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Weyerhaeuser. "In addition to operating profitably, [our] commitment includes responsible environmental performance, ethical business practices, beneficial community activities and enlightened employee relations -- all underscored by our commitment to the safety of our employees and service to our customers," Rogel asserts.

Weyerhaeuser adopted its first environmental policy in 1971, the first company in its industry do so, Schreiner Kendall says. Basically, the environmental policy says that Weyerhaeuser employees at all levels will:

* Comply with applicable laws and regulations, and

* Continuously improve environmental performance wherever the company does business.

There are copies of the company's environmental policy posted at every facility, and the company's commitment to proactive environmental management is referenced in the text of many messages sent internally and externally.

"Weyerhaeuser was one of the first forest products companies that started planting trees," Schreiner Kendall reveals. "It is not only in our best interest because we are in the forest products business, but from a personal standpoint; I want timberlands available not just for my children, but for my children's children."

Why Do It?

At Weyerhaeuser, success isn't solely measured by the number in the profit column. There isn't just one (financial) bottom line to measure, Schreiner Kendall says. There is a triple bottom line, according to her, which includes social responsibility, proactive environmental management and financial success. To be a successful company by its own definition, Weyerhaeuser must be environmentally responsible.

"It is important not to lose sight of the commitments to environmental management and social responsibility," Schreiner Kendall notes. "They are linked to financial performance, and only by being a success financially are we able to afford [proactive] environmental management."

In its simplest form, Weyerhaeuser's governing structure can be viewed as a pyramid, with the vision for the entire company -- to be the best forest products company in the world -- at the top. …

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