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Business and Industry/Industrial Ecology



INCO International Nickel A Winner in reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

In Canada’s Leadership award for Voluntary Challenge and Registry

The Challenge to Industry to Reduce Greenhouse Gases


  • Can large industries decrease their greenhouse gas emissions?
  • And can they do it voluntarily, without government regulation?

Canada has a program that invites industries and corporations to commit and plan how to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. It’s called Canada’s Climate Change Voluntary Challenge and Registry (VCR). Each year in March, during the Annual Council of Champions and Leadership Awards Ceremony, the Leadership Awards recognize VCR registrants for their achievements in reducing Canada’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The Voluntary Challenge and Registry was set up to be a key part of Canada’s National Action Program on Climate Change. The program is a partnership between the private sector and governments across Canada. It aims to encourage organizations from all sectors of Canada’s economy to become more accountable for their greenhouse gas generation and its reduction on a voluntary basis.

The program has a strong, and growing, participation rate. In 2003, there were 1162 companies registered responsible for managing 3119 Action Plans in the VCR Registry. And of these, there were 265 companies that scored as Champion Level Reporters.

In Canada’s Climate Change Voluntary Challenge and Registry (VCR),INCO is a Champion Gold-Level Reporter

INCO a Winner in Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions!

The Registry gives awards to the best greenhouse-gas reducing participants in the program. In March 2003, INCO received a Leadership Award in the Mining category for displaying “”extraordinary commitment, action, and leadership toward the voluntary reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.” It was the fourth successive year that INCO International Nickel was among the Gold or Champion Level Reporting status for its success in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions levels.

INCO mines and processes nickel, copper, cobalt and platinum, in Ontario and Manitoba. In 2001, they decreased total energy consumption by 15%, and total carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by 79,000 tonnes.


That means that INCO decreased its total greenhouse gas emissions by 8% since 1990, which is three percent better than the goal suggested in the Canada’s Kyoto targets. INCO’s energy management plan which has worked hard to bring all company employees on side is responsible for a 16% reduction in energy consumption per unit of production.

Through a program called Energy Breakthrough, INCO have retired equipment that is not energy-efficient. They have also moved their high production energy demand times to off-peak hours when the Ontario energy grid is not producing electricity by burning fossil fuels an effective way of saving greenhouse gas emissions indirectly.

VCR award winners are chosen “for showing a significant decrease in the intensity of greenhouse gas emissions, demonstrating senior management commitment, setting future reduction targets and preparing detailed action plans and progress reports.”

Education Gets Everyone on the Team

Scott Hand, INCO Chairman and CEO, pointed out that education and awareness play a large role in INCO’s success in doing business differently. “For the past decade we’ve been working hard to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through a program of energy conservation and awareness in our operations,” he said. “Our employees understand that wise energy use not only makes good business sense, but it also has a significant impact on greenhouse gas. They’ve done a great job and I want to thank them for their continuing commitment to this important objective.”

1. Why Canada’s Climate Change Voluntary Challenge and Registry set up?
2. Define ‘greenhouse gas’. Name 3 of gases are called ‘greenhouse gases’. State one source of each gas named. SEE
3. Explain Scott Hands’ statement’ Our employees understand that waste energy use not only jakes good business sense, but it also has a significant impact on greenhouse gas.’

Interface Flooring and Sustainability

Doing Business – and changing education – with A finite Earth in Mind

A Man and a Company with a Vision of Changing Business — and Education — for a Sustainable Future

Ray Anderson is the founder and chairman of Interface Flooring Systems, Inc., a manufacturer of carpeting and other products for institutional and commercial interiors (hotels, offices, conference centres). One day he read a book that changed his whole idea of business. It was Paul Hawken’s The Ecology of Commerce. It also changed his life. It made him realize he had been, as he put it, “a plunderer of the earth.” It made Anderson, a life-long industrialist, realize he wanted to re-design his business to make it environmentally sustainable.


Ray Anderson also came to believe that not only business, but education, needs to change fundamentally to make us able to learn in ways that will make us able to deal with environmental change. First he set out to make his company and all of his factories become an example for all of business to follow. Then he began to speak out on the need for education to change the way business and decision-making is done.

Ray Anderson’s Speech: A Call for Systemic Change

In January of 2003 Ray Anderson gave a speech at the 3rd Annual Conference on Science, Policy and the Environment sponsored by the US National Council for Science and the Environment. In it, he began by pointing out that as a society we are not using the knowledge or do not have the right knowledge to solve some of the important problems we currently face. First, told his audience a story.


Using Education Wisely? (Looking at What’s Important)

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson go on a camping trip. Night comes on, and they go to bed. In the middle of the night, Sherlock Holmes wakes up and punches Watson awake. “Watson, what do you see?”

Watson looks up and in his inimitable way says, “Meteorologically speaking, I see we’re in a high pressure zone. The sky is perfectly clear. Cosmologically speaking, I see an expanding universe with billions and billions of galaxies, each containing billions and billions of stars. Astronomically speaking, I see our own galaxy, the Milky Way, and five first magnitude stars. There is Altair, Arcturus, Deneb, Vega, and Regulus. Astrologically speaking, I see that Mars is in Capricorn and Saturn is in Sagittarius. Chronologically speaking, I deduce from the position of the stars that it’s 3:15 a.m. What do you see, Holmes?”

“Holmes hesitates a moment, collects himself, and then replies, “Watson, you idiot. Someone has stolen our tent.”

First, Learn to see the Problem

Here are two excerpts from Mr. Anderson’s speech.

“After 21 years of unwittingly plundering the earth, I read Paul Hawken’s book The Ecology of Commerce (Harper 1993). I began to understand, reading Hawken, things I never learned in college: that there is red ink * everywhere that every life support system and every living system that make up the biosphere (where we and the other creatures live), that spherical shell that is 8,000 miles in diameter (the diameter of Earth) and only about 10 miles thick — extending about five miles downward from sea level into the depth of the oceans, and about five miles upward into the troposphere, that spherical shell that contains and nurtures all life on a basketball-size Earth, tissue paper thin that every life support system and all the living systems that together comprise the biosphere are stressed and in long-term decline, and the rate of decline is accelerating: Where is the red ink* coming from?


Red ink: an accounting term meaning money owed by a business, or as used here, a debt owed to the Earth

  • Polluted rivers and streams from municipal, industrial, agricultural, and construction sources.
  • Polluted and over-fished oceans. PCBs (toxic chemicals) accumulating in orcas (whales). Fish stocks collapsing, coral reefs dying.
  • Lakes polluted, many dead from acid rain, industrial pollution, and agricultural runoff; forests, too, dead and dying from acid rain and atmospheric ozone, originating in our cities, drifting into our rural areas; affecting crop yields adversely, too.
  • Disappearing wetlands — the beginning of the food chain, that leads to us at the other end.
  • Devastated rain forests, a critical lobe of Earth’s lungs; old growth forests (haven for bio-diversity) almost gone, mostly clear cut, destroying habitat for countless species.
  • Depleted and polluted aquifers. In parts of India and China water tables falling 10 feet a year.
  • Spreading deserts.
  • Farmlands, denuded of topsoil, increasing in salinity from irrigation, and toxified by pesticides, turning into deserts.
  • Range lands, pushed to the limit of their carrying capacity to feed the livestock which feed us.
  • Atmosphere, polluted by countless toxins, CO2 and other greenhouse gases
  • Global warming; the scientific debate about global warming is over; the debate is now political and economic.
  • And even the stratosphere itself, beyond the troposphere in which ozone shields us from deadly UV radiation.

All severely stressed by man-made degradation.”

Then, Find the Solution “Do Well by Doing Good”

Anderson and Interface decided to do things differently. They set out on a path to succeed in business without harming the environment, or as Anderson put it, “do well by doing good.” This new approach has added meaning to their employees’ lives and, at the same time, given their customers, suppliers and communities countless opportunities to do the right thing for Earth. Interface wishes to make the idea of “doing well by doing good” become the idea of true business success that will prevail in the 21st Century. They see it as a better way to bigger, and more honorable, profits.
Anderson calls the challenge of changing business “the challenge of Mount Sustainability,” and he imagines a mountain with seven fronts or seven faces. “The entire industrial system, ” he says, “including the educational sector, must climb these same seven faces, if it is to become sustainable.”


Interface has drawn up a Master Plan that outlines the seven fronts of sustainability.

The Seven Fronts of Sustainability

  • Waste elimination, imitating nature in industrial processes, nature where one organism’s waste is another’s food. This means revolutionary re-design and re-engineering of processes.
  • Benign emissions, to do no further harm to the biosphere. This means changing inputs to factories. What comes in will go out as product, waste, or emissions.
  • Renewable energy, energy efficiency first, then harnessing renewable energy sources – sunlight, wind, biomass, and hydrogen to cut the fossil fuel umbilical cord to Earth.
  • Closed-loop material flows, to cut the material umbilical cord to Earth for virgin materials.
  • Resource-efficient transportation, to achieve carbon neutrality by eliminating or off-setting greenhouse gas generated in moving people and products from Point A to Point B.
  • Sensitivity hook-up. This is the cultural shift, the mind-set shift, to sensitize and educate everyone customers, suppliers, employees, communities to the plight of Earth, and to inspire environmentally responsible actions. I suggest that this is, perhaps, education’s greatest challenge your greatest challenge overcoming and shedding a mind-set that embraces the status quo. This is a good place to invoke the words of Frank Outlaw: “Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.” I would add: even before thought, there is mind-set. Watch your mind-set; it underlies the entire system.
  • Commerce redesign, to create the true service economy selling service in the case of carpets: color, texture, design, acoustics, comfort, cleanliness service, rather than product, retaining ownership in the means, and giving those products life after life in closed loop material flows; bringing about manifold improvement in resource efficiency.

School can become part of the “sensitivity hookup” to make people not only aware of the parts and functions, but also the needs of the Earth, and the responsibilities involved in keeping its intricate working systems healthy.

Sustainability is about
With a Master Plan in hand, Interface set out the re-design the way they did things. “Sustainability isn’t just about being green,” they say on their website. “It’s about being better designers.” They have re-designed their processes, their products, the whole manufacturing “life-cycle” of the carpeting they make. They see achieving sustainability as a continuous process of incremental improvements, always looking for better ways to do things.

Interface Canada and Climate Change

Interface Flooring Canada in Belleville, Ontario has developed and adopted its own “Climate Change Pledge.” The Pledge consists of a Climate Change Action Plan Summary, a Pledge Sheet, a Climate Change Information Sheet and a “Power of One” Survey. All the employees of Interface companies are trained to understand the issue of climate change, what it is, and what its potential impacts can be.


The Pledge program emphasizes the power of one that every person’s actions matter, and that making different choices in everyday life can add up to an important difference and influence other people to responsible action too.

For details about Interface’s Canadian Climate Change Pledge program, please visit their website at: http://www.interfacesustainability.com/canclim.html

Ray Anderson has told his story of personal and corporate transformation in greater detail in his book, Mid-Course Correction Towards a Sustainable Enterprise – The Interface Model (Published by Chelsea Green, or in paperback, Peregrinzilla Press 1998).

1. Summarize the evidence in Mr. Anderson’s speech that biosphere( all life on earth) is stressed and in long-term decline.’
2. Define ‘sustainability’ and explain the 7 Fronts of Sustainability.
3. Using information from www.interfaceflooring.com/products/sustainability, explain how Interface flooring has re-designed the way they do things.