Eric “Rick” Van Dellen, Amway’s sustainability program manager who worked for the direct selling giant for 32 years, has witnessed how sustainability has driven a shift in the ways business relate to the environment.
“When I first got into the environmental business, all I did was spend the company’s money taking care of past environmental issues, trying to deal with new laws and putting a compliance program in place,” Van Dellen said. “Now, with sustainability, the way we look at (industry) is very different. We look at this as an opportunity to save the company money because we’re looking to conserve and to become more efficient.”
With a background in chemistry, Van Dellen’s work in research and development eventually led him out of the lab and into helping develop Amway’s environmental affairs program. Now he also serves as board president to the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum.
With Van Dellen’s help, sustainability efforts at Amway are on the rise. Van Dellen said the company has recently instituted a new supply chain metrics program that will track waste, water, recycling, employee safety, greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption at its facilities around the world.
“It’s not just about compliance anymore,” he said. “It’s about beyond compliance.”
So far, even slight changes seem to be yielding results. Since 2006, Amway has reduced its U.S. aggregate of electricity consumption by four percent at the same time sales went up 30 percent.
“It’s hard to argue with the bottom line, too, when you can be more efficient,” Van Dellen said.