If it seems like your organization’s sustainability focus is “up in the air,” you will be in good company this June. In fact, the theme for World Environment Day 2019, held on June 5, is air pollution.
World Environment Day provides the perfect time for businesses to raise awareness and galvanize action toward mitigating greenhouse gases and other airborne pollutants connected to climate change, shortened human life expectancy and other health risks. The United Nations states that this event is “a call to action to combat one of the greatest environmental challenges of our time.” More than 100 countries participate in the event—organizations looking to make a difference can register their initiatives at the World Environment Day website.
What are the main sources of air pollution?
When thinking about how your company can help tackle air pollution, it is useful to consider how it occurs. The United Nations identifies the main generators of air pollution as being industry, transportation, agriculture and waste management, along with natural causes. In many countries, the UN notes, energy production is a leading source of air pollution. Coal-burning power plants are a major contributor, while diesel generators are a growing concern. Meanwhile, transportation generates almost one-quarter of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions. Transport emissions, particularly in urban areas, are also connected to hundreds of thousands of premature deaths annually.
Participation Ideas for World Environment Day
Companies can use World Environment Day to host an event to raise awareness, make a pledge or to explore opportunities for reducing air pollution. Ideas include:
- Making a pledge to reduce overall energy consumption in your operation while also increasing the percentage of renewable energy used
- Making a pledge to use more recycled content in your goods and to ensure that your products are recyclable and reusable.
- Hosting a carpooling, biking or public transport day.
- Hosting a tree planting.
- Collectively exploring ways to reduce emissions of air pollutants from facilities and supply chains.
RPCs Can Make a Difference
One often overlooked opportunity to reduce air pollution in the fresh supply chain is through the use of RPCs. Regarding greenhouse gas emissions, comprehensive research undertaken in 2018 by Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute compared RPCs with single-use cardboard boxes according to ISO 14040/44. The resulting report, "Carbon Footprint of Packaging Systems for Fruit and Vegetable Transports in Europe," showed that more than 37 metric tons of CO2-equivalent emissions were generated by cardboard, versus less than 15 metric tons for RPCs. Bottom line: RPCs create up to 60% lower greenhouse gas emissions than the single-use alternative.
There are plenty of ways to help your company reduce air pollution—your company’s first step can be as simple as making the switch to using IFCO RPCs.