In one company I worked for, we were all given a year to participate in a project called “Budget Busters.” Each person and department was tasked with figuring out ways to save operating costs on all levels. Monthly cash awards were given to those who had made significant contributions to the program. Our mailroom manager created notepads for us from scrap paper. We began reusing manila folders, and our editorial department began using both sides of manuscript-tracking sheets and other forms. We collected all our stashed flocks of paperclips, prides of sticky notes, herds of rubber bands, and gaggles of ink pens, and restocked the supply cabinets with them — reducing supply costs significantly. We learned how recycling saved us money in waste-disposal, and we developed ways to spend less on business travel. The thermostats were reprogrammed to remain within the realm of comfort, but not to heat or cool the building overmuch over weekends. And we learned to turn out lights when they were not needed.
We all had a strong level of “buy-in” that made for a creative year. In our case, round-about Christmas time, every employee received a large check: We each received an equal portion of the dollar amount saved from our budget-busting year — over the target percentage. And it turned out to be quite a lot.
That is certainly a good memory — but I bring it up here because of what happened after that year. As a whole, we simply continued with those new habits. We’d grown to understand the overall costs to a company if, say, 200 employees toss a dozen or more file folders each month and don’t turn their computers off at night. We had all — together — invented a new “normal” for our workplace. And a large portion of that “normal” related to management of our basic environmental controls.
The pressure to conserve, recycle, be “environmentally responsible” can feel dictatorial if imposed “from above,” and it can therefore encounter resistance. But as Cheryl Scott concludes in this issue’s special report on the subject, efforts both big and small are combining to have a huge impact on a company’s bottom line — and do indeed matter increasingly to investors. And I suspect, as my earlier experience showed me, that these eco-friendly policies can evolve smoothly into best practices once people understand that they themselves benefit from the results — and that small savings, multiplied by numbers of employees, can become huge savings. Apart from politics and ideologies, debates over climate change — apart from anything else, sustainable habits and practices have a greater financial impact than many of us realize. And they still help protect our planet.
So this issue’s special report is just the beginning of our goal to offer you more and more examples of how sustainability can translate into best practices in the biopharmaceutical industry — for vendors, manufacturers, facility designers, and contract-service providers alike. I hope you will find the examples and related data presented this month to be as surprisingly innovative (and advanced) and inspiring as we have. And we extend our many thanks to all those who spoke with us and provided examples for this report. Keep up the good work!