Posted by: John Carey on July 24, 2009
Companies have come up with many reasons for cutbacks in service. Saving money. Reducing the need for layoffs. Boosting efficiency.
But here’s a justification rarely heard: Spinning the cutbacks as a ‘green’ initiative.
That’s what OfficeMax has done. In the Washington, DC, area, it announced to customers that “beginning July 13, 2009, OfficeMax fleet trucks will deliver Tuesday – Friday.” Eliminating the Monday delivery will “Lead to a Positive Environmental Impact!” the announcement trumpets: “By compressing 5 delivery days into 4, OfficeMax will improve the metro environment.”
The improvements? Ending Monday deliveries reduces carbon emissions from delivery trucks (and from drivers commuting to work), and brings less traffic congestion. The company figures that just having the drivers stay home, instead of coming to work on Monday, eliminates 60,000 miles of commuting.
The company is rolling out the program nationally this month, with different no-delivery days in different regions. In an email response, spokesman William Bonner says that the company was indeed motivated by environmental concerns. “We identified a program of deferred order delivery, or managed delivery, as a way to reduce vehicle emissions and therefore, to improve our carbon footprint,” he writes. But he also admits that the “program has introduced business efficiencies for OfficeMax and our customers.”
As for the employees, Bonner says that the program has not reduced the number of drivers or drivers’ hours, since many of the drivers will be working 10 hours a day on their four-day work week. But consolidations of distribution centers and staff have resulted in reductions in the number of other employees.
BusinessWeek correspondents John Carey and Mark Scott, cover the green scene, keeping on top of the business aspects of energy, the environment and climate change, as well as the technologies, policies, markets and people that are shaping how the earth's resources will be used in the century ahead.