There’s no shortage of “green” claims in the marketplace. But regardless of all the social posturing involved in sustainability, there is no arguing with the improvements being sustainable can have on a company’s bottom line.
Most often, sustainability efforts focus on streamlining and finding efficiencies. To help support those efforts, the state of Michigan has started offering community pollution prevention grants.
That support is helping the WMSBF to further develop its self-assessment guide, initially created for forum members to use to gauge the effectiveness of various sustainability measures.
Carol Pike, chair of the WMSBF tools and resources committee, said the WMSBF was looking at a few tools to help build their assessment system, but the timeline for raising enough funding to complete the tool was estimated to take between three and five years. The grant, she said, is essentially a shortcut to their goal.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality awarded the WMSBF $34,900 to help get the assessment project off the ground. Drawing on its membership, the WMSBF plans to create a regional sustainability database that will provide a variety of metrics to report on progress in matters of waste, energy use and similar data.
The WMSBF partnered with Muskegon County and the Employers Association of West Michigan in applying for the grant. Part of Muskegon County’s award will support the Employer’s Association’s Universal Waste Management Forum.
Lisa Locke, WMSBF administrator and project manager, said the award will help cover the cost of licenses for its members to use the software for a period of one year. During that time, members are expected to report their findings, as transparency is key to determining success and progress, she said.
“The original self-assessment was primarily qualitative,” Locke said. “We’re adding quantitative so we can really get some hard measurements as well, which is important to the state.”
The hope is that the system will directly drive improvement in operations, improvements that could be tracked by the company and aggregated by region to determine the effectiveness of the tool. The tool could also help identify specific learning objectives that groups like the WMSBF could address through specific programming.
For now, the WMSBF hopes to pull in at least 60 other businesses heading into a trial run at the beginning of 2012. It could add another 40 companies depending on the pilot project’s success.