One way to dismiss sustainability and any smidgen of corporate social responsibility is to shout the antiquated argument that we only have a choice between the economy and the environment.  Xerox has shown that is not the case.  Last year the company announced it was working on carbon neutrality; to that end, in the push to make the company more “green,” Xerox is encouraging its employees to share ideas on how the organization can become more efficient while saving resources.  Green can be lean, and the environment can lend itself to economy, to tweak the word a tad.

The results from employees’ rethinking:  Xerox has saved US$10.2 million this year while it eliminated 2.6 million pounds of waste.  Employees at facilities around the world were engaged in a corporate wide “Earth Awards” program that challenged them to leverage innovation as a means to saving the company resources.  Some may sniff that $10 million is small potatoes for a $15 billion dollar company, but a cursory look through Xerox’s financials reveals that net income after tax was $475 million last year.  Hence the documents systems and services icon has taken an impressive step.

Xerox’s company-wide competition narrowed down to 30 nominations, and from there, 13 winners were announced.  Winners, scattered across North America and Europe, included:

In Wilsonville, OR, a research team designed the smallest package possible for one of its colored ink lines.  The internal packaging, reduced in content, is now made from 100% post-consumer recycled material, and the box in which the ink is contained is of 43% recycled material.

Water savings resulted as well.  For example, a team in its Webster, NY toner plant created a more efficient process for handling wastewater.  In addition to a savings of $80,000 annually, 60% less wastewater went offsite for disposal; the plant’s waste generation was halved; and the amount of water required for mixing raw toner materials was slashed by one-third.

Another crew in Ireland developed a process to revamp the rate at which ink from toners was imprinted on papers.  By stretching out the rate for each part, the DPI kit, the number of new kits needed was reduced.  The net result was 70,000 less pounds of waste sent to landfills while saving the division $132,000.

The largest savings were at a facility in Grovepoint, Ohio, where a group of employees made huge strides in waste reduction.  A process for efficient return of wooden pallets, recycling programs for cardboard boxes, and streamlined use and reuse of packaging materials from paper to polystyrene all netted a savings of $738,000 a year.

When individuals and companies take steps to save energy, reduce waste, and conserve water, all those efforts, no matter how small, add up.  Xerox may meet its carbon neutrality goals fairly quickly at the rate at which its employees have progressed.

Syndicated on Guardian Sustainable Business November 15, 2011.

About The Author

Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye is the founder and editor of Based in California, he specializes in social media consulting and strategic communications. A journalist and writer since 2009, his work has appeared on Triple Pundit , The Guardian's Sustainable Business site and has appeared on Inhabitat and Earth911. His focus is making the business case for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Areas of interest include the <a Middle East, sustainable development in The Balkans, Brazil and Korea. He was a new media journalism fellow at the International Reporting Project, for which he covered child survival in India during February 2013. Contact him at You can also reach out via Twitter (Leon Kaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost). Since 2013, he has spent much of his time in Abu Dhabi, UAE, working with Masdar, the emirate's renewable energy company. He lives in Fresno, California.