When you distribute hundreds of thousands of items worldwide like Grainger does, the hidden health, environmental and social implications can feel overwhelming. It's easy to talk about environment, sustainability and corporate responsibility, but it takes a real commitment to quantify the environmental impact of every purchase decision. Grainger is determined to set a new MRO standard for sustainable, environmentally safe operations and continues to find ways to use resources wisely and reduce the impact its business has on the environment.
We were happy to participate in Grainger's efforts to apply sustainability principles at their corporate headquarters in Lake Forest, Illinois. The building has earned LEED Gold Certification (Leadership in Energy and Efficient Design) from the U.S. Green Building Council and Georgia-Pacific is pleased to be a part of ongoing efforts to help reduce the building’s environmental impact.
To help reduce environmental impact in the washroom, we recommended Grainger install enMotion® automated touchless towel dispensers and Compact® coreless tissue dispensers. These innovative dispensing systems are designed to help control product usage, help minimize waste, and help improve workplace hygiene. Implementing our recommendations meant replacing standard folded paper towels with enMotion towels and standard roll bath tissue with Compact coreless bathroom tissue. Since Grainger wanted an accurate estimate of the impact of using these new products, we benchmarked existing product costs, case usage, maintenance time, and the amount of trash generated by the existing towel and tissue products. Then we installed enMotion automated towel dispensers and Compact coreless tissue dispensers. Based on GP estimates, this seemingly small step is expected to yield big results. The first and most obvious change will be the impact the new dispensing systems have on usage. Georgia-Pacific estimates paper towel consumption will drop from 2,430 cases per year to just 764. On tissue, annual usage is expected to fall from 630 cases to approximately 485. This is expected to translate into an estimated cost savings at headquarters of more than 36 percent!
Grainger is also expected to see a related and significant benefit of the reduced product usage – less trash. In fact, with our high-capacity rolls, and no excess packaging, wrappers and cores, Grainger can expect the amount of trash associated with washroom towels and tissue to be cut by 95.5%. Bottom line projections estimate that the waste costs associated with just these two items will decline 66.4%. We also estimated labor optimization. The new enMotion and Compact dispensers are so easy to operate and efficient to load that labor hours associated with restocking towel and tissue are projected to be reduced an estimated 70%. Annually, that adds up to a savings of $6,582. Adding that to consumption and waste cost savings is expected to result in an estimated total savings of $34,997 per year.
Direct savings are just one part of the environmental impact story. We next worked with Grainger to estimate the environmental impact of the move to enMotion and Compact dispensing systems. We were able to project the reduction in CO2 emissions from manufacturing and shipping associated with Grainger’s lower level of product usage. The enMotion towels and Compact tissue products were projected to be for 55% less CO2 emissions than the standard washroom products Grainger used before. What’s more, we were able to show Grainger that 60% less fossil fuels were consumed to manufacture and transport the enMotion towels and Compact tissue they needed on an annual basis.
Grainger partnered with key suppliers as well as leading environmental firm TerraChoice, to help them meet its sustainability goals. TerraChoice manages one of the most well-respected environmental standards in the world - EcoLogo™. The company conducted a webinar to educate customer-facing employees about green products and help ensure that all Grainger recommendations for sustainable solutions are based on facts. Three of the lessons TerraChoice shared with Grainger may be helpful as you evaluate sustainable solutions for your company.
- A green product that does not work as well, if not better, than a traditional product, is not a green product. This is great news for you. Today, there is no need to settle for lower performance when pursuing lower environmental impact.
- A green product that is significantly more expensive than a traditional product is not a green product (unless is it generating significant long term savings). This is also great news for you. It doesn’t have to cost more to make choices that make sense for the environment. Pursuing sustainability doesn’t have to be a business tradeoff. It’s simply a choice your organization makes.
- Greenwashing is real. TerraChoice defines greenwashing as the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service.
There are many false environmental claims in the marketplace. We all have to learn to ask critical questions to make sure we buy products with legitimate environmental benefits. For example, how valid is the environmental standard featured on a product’s package? How is that standard set? Who defines that standard? How are results verified? Georgia-Pacific has also worked with TerraChoice to document our processes and demonstrate our commitment to the environment. We offer sustainable solutions, such as EcoLogo™ Certified products, that meet the highest industry standards. We are earning our leadership position every day – and that includes leadership in environmental stewardship. We look forward to helping you reach your sustainability goals. If you think these results sound too good to be true, then we encourage you to talk to your Grainger sales representative about enMotion towels and Compact tissue from Georgia-Pacific. You can hear more about how these systems are helping Grainger achieve their sustainability goals and how they can work for you.