Academic journal article Management Accounting Quarterly

Environmental Reporting Practices of the Largest U.S. Companies

Academic journal article Management Accounting Quarterly

Environmental Reporting Practices of the Largest U.S. Companies

Article excerpt

The environment is one of the most important issues the world faces today. Climate change, energy supply and demand, waste removal, and other issues are growing in magnitude. The corporate world faces a challenge in how it responds to the environment and what it can do to improve the current situation.

U.S. organizations such as Target, Apple, and Dell report positive environmental events on their websites and in the news, but questions remain as to the depth of the commitment of U.S. companies toward the environment. Even though it is voluntary, many U.S. corporations complete internally generated reports that summarize their environmental performance, but only a few have their environmental activities reviewed by an independent third party. Some companies use the Global Reporting initiative (GRi) as the framework for their environmental strategy because it offers a comprehensive guide to follow for environmental reporting.

One way to examine the commitment of organizations to their environmental strategy is to examine their overall environmental reporting.

BUSINESS AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Many companies are including the environment as part of their overall business strategy. Everything from designing ways to promote the efficient use of energy to reducing greenhouse gases and eliminating waste have become important aspects of business. The activities of select companies show examples of positive contributions to the environment. Let's look at what some companies do.

Target

Target is a retail organization based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Some highlights of its environmental performance include developing new stores with solar power and water conservation standards, an organization-wide commitment to reduce waste, the use of eco-friendly packaging on store-brand products, and a recycling program throughout the company. (See http://sites.target.com/images/corporate/about/responsibility report/2009/full report.pdf.) (1)

Office Depot

office Depot is a retail organization that specializes in selling office products to the general public and businesses. it has an annual independent audit of environmental activities and has developed internal systems for recycling everything from paper to printer cartridges, along with increasing its use of environmentally friendly paper. (See www.officedepot.cc/environment.)

Apple

Apple is one of the leading computer and electronics companies in the United States. its products are created to reduce their impact on the environment through a design using fewer materials and smaller packaging (without many toxic elements) that is as recyclable and energy efficient as possible. For example, its entire product line contains no lead, brominated flame retardant (BFR), mercury, or arsenic. The company's new line of computers is made with 50% less material than the first generation of iMacs, the Mac mini uses one-sixth the power of an ordinary light bulb, and the current packaging is a 53% reduction from early models. (See www.apple.com/environment.)

Frito-Lay

Since 2008, the snack-food-producing organization has used 54,000 square feet of concave mirrors as part of 384 solar collectors to reduce the use of natural gas at the plant that produces SunChips[R]. This move was part of the organization's commitment to support renewable energy sources. (See www.fritolay.com/ourplanet/snacks-made-with-the-help-of-the-sun.html.)

Subaru

The international automaker's manufacturing plant in Indiana is the first auto assembly center to achieve zero-waste status. Everything from the plant is either reused or recycled, and zero waste is sent to landfills. The company was recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for achievements in the areas of waste reduction and recycling. (See www.subaru.com/company/environmental-policy.html.)

Dell Computers

As one of the largest computer manufacturers in the world, Dell has implemented a program internally and with its customers to reuse and recycle computer parts. …

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