Photo: Mohamed Abdulraheem / Shutterstock

In fact, the plastics fabrication company Greif (you’ve never heard of them but you’ve likely benefited from their products) has been following this model to improve their image, cut costs, and, of course, create a healthier planet through their actions.

Greif’s President and CEO Pete Watson explain their mission, “Sustainability is defined in our company’s guiding principles, The Greif Way, as using financial, natural and human resources wisely without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.”

This agglomerate of missions come together in a highly successful way, reducing waste and pollution and receiving the NRDC score of A-. Watson describes this success as important but also stresses the need to keep improving.

When businesses aren’t swayed by the preservationist attitude, Michael Wall, NRDC codirector of litigations, explains that they are also ready to hold businesses financially responsible for their high-polluting actions.

“Our best bet,” he explains, “is to make sure the pollution doesn’t get into the environment in the first place.”

His lawsuits have already started to make an impact in the state of California. First, by banning single-use plastic bags; and second, charging restaurants for providing straws without a request. But these lawsuits also help cities save money. The plastic bag pollution had previously cost California cities $428 million dollars to clean out of waterways.

Wall describes their next goal to incentivize environmentalism and provide a burgeoning market in recycling. Single-use products simply go from shelf to consumer to the landfill, but recyclable products have the opportunity to provide an extra step; a step that needs people to work in recycling management to the tune of 1.1 million jobs over the next decade.

While our society has to figure out a way to clean up the mess we’ve already made, we also need to figure out how to curb the continued problem. Consumer and brand responsibility and action are key features for amiable recycling alliances; however, when big business needs a nudge, legal implications can push companies to a more earth-friendly attitude.

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