E23: What is Corporate Sustainability?
The history and importance of putting the Earth first. A conversation with Gregg Belardo, Senior Director of Corporate Sustainability at Charles River.
A long time ago, at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, no one was thinking about green technology. Rivers were our sewers, and the skies were filled with smoke. The prevailing attitude at the time was that the world was so big that our little messes couldn’t possibly make a difference.
Well, we were wrong. To be fair to us, for a long time we were focused solely on survival, and the Earth did seem huge when it took weeks to get across the ocean. Most of us know better now, and so corporate sustainability was born.
“When I first started talking about being sustainable... people literally thought I was crazy,” said Gregg Belardo, Senior Director of Corporate Sustainability at Charles River, and this month’s guest on Eureka’s Sounds of Science. “All my buddies said, ‘You're crazy. You're ruining your career.’ And I said, "Trust me. One day this will be mainstream.’”
In honor of Earth Day, I spoke with Belardo about his life’s work on corporate sustainability. In a nutshell, corporate sustainability folds environmentalism into a company’s long-term business goals. The idea is not just to plant a tree on Arbor Day or use recycled paper in office printers, but to critically evaluate the company’s environmental footprint and develop policies and actions for minimizing it.
For Belardo, that goal has defined his 30+ year career in corporate sustainability. His plans for Charles River include a capital fund for green initiatives, reduction in CO2 emissions through renewable energy purchases, and employee engagement programs to decrease energy use overall.
Listen to this month’s podcast to hear more about Belardo, the history of conservation, and what the pharmaceutical industry can do to meet sustainability goals. This podcast will kick off a series on the intersection of the pharma industry and climate change. Happy Earth Day!