The General Electric Company and Water Pollution

The General Electric Company (GE from henceforth) is an American Multinational Conglomerate founded in 1892 by the merger of American Inventor Thomas Alva Edison’s Edison General Electric Company and Thomson-Houston Electric Company .GE currently operates simultaneously in five diverse business sectors namely: Energy (e.g. oil and gas), Media (as NBC Universal in areas such as cable and film), Technology Infrastructure (e.g. Aviation and Healthcare), Home and Business Solutions(Appliances and Intelligent platforms) and Finance ( as GE Capital involved in both commercial and consumer finance). GE currently has businesses in about 160 countries and about 300,000 employees around the globe. The company’s headquarters is located at Connecticut, USA.

As a global conglomerate GE has had a controversial history with regards to air and water pollution dating back to the late 1940s and had always been a target of criticism from public officials and environmentalists in the US. However, things took a turn for the better when on the 9th of May, 2005 GE’s CEO Jeffery Immelt announced the company’s new environmental initiative called ‘Ecomagination’. In Mr Immelt’s words, the aim of the initiative is to “focus our unique energy, technology, manufacturing, and infrastructure capabilities to develop tomorrow’s solutions such as solar energy, hybrid locomotives, fuel cells, lower-emission aircraft engines, lighter and stronger materials, efficient lighting, and water purification technology”.

IMPROVING SUSTAINABILITY AT GE

In order to achieve its goals of becoming a more sustainable company and to increase their overall sustainability performance, GE through Ecomagination has committed to taking the following concrete steps: Reduce water use and improve water reuse: As of 2006 GE’s freshwater was totalling about 15.3 billion gallons and so the company announced its goal of cutting consumption by 20% by 2012. By 2009, GE’s water usage was down 30% to about10.7 billion gallons which further prompted the company to set a modified goal of aiming for a 25% reduction by 2015. Double investments in clean Research and Development: At the launch of Ecomagination, GE committed to increase its R&D spending on clean technologies from about $700 million in 2004 to $1.5 billion by 2010; by the end of 2009 a total of about $5 billion had been spent on R&D for clean technologies which according to GE reports generated about $70 billion in revenue thanks to the new technologies and products from the Ecomagination initiative.

In light of this, in 2010 GE announced a commitment to invest an additional $10 billion in Ecomagination by 2015. Reduce Greenhouse Emissions and improve Energy efficiency of its current operations: At the launch of Ecomagination, setting 2004 as a baseline GE made a commitment to cut 1% of its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2012 and reduce the intensity of its GHG emissions 30% by 2008. As of 2011, GE has been successful in cutting GHG emission by 22% and also reduced the intensity of its GHG emissions by 39%. According to GE reports, overall energy intensity has improved by 34% and the company hopes to improve by up to 50% for all its operations by 2015. Increase revenues from Ecomagination products: In 2009, revenues from Ecomagination grew by 6% to about $18 billion despite the financial crisis.