Newsweek tags Whirlpool for its green reputation

May 27, 2011
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The largest publicly traded firm headquartered in the region that achieved the highest ranking on Newsweek magazine’s 2010 list of the largest top 500 green public companies in America is Whirlpool Corp.

The Benton Harbor-based home appliance manufacturer was ranked 116th overall by the magazine in its annual list.

But Whirlpool, whose worldwide brands also include Maytag, KitchenAid and Amana, was rated 11th greenest firm in its industry sector, which Newsweek classified as consumer products. It is within that sector that Whirlpool captured its highest score: a sixth-place finish for the green reputation established by the firm. That ranking came from a Newsweek poll of CEOs, environmental officers and green experts and pushed Whirlpool into the 58th spot on the top 500 list for reputation scoring.

Jody Lau, Whirlpool’s manager of corporate responsibility communications, told the Business Journal that for the better part of a century, the company has built a culture of responsibility that has been good for the business, the environment and society as a whole.

“We believe that financial success is only sustainable when we remain true to our fundamental values,” wrote Lau in an e-mail to the Business Journal.

“As we’ve grown from a small Midwestern U.S. company with one patent, one product and one customer to the major appliance industry’s global leader, our well-known and trusted brands have provided us with opportunities to make life easier and more sustainable for people,” she added.

Lau went on to say that well before sustainability became a trend, Whirlpool strove for high-efficiency standards in its products, lower greenhouse gas emissions and a smaller carbon footprint. The result of that striving, she said, is the company offers consumers “innovative products made with recyclable materials that use less water and energy.”

Lau said Whirlpool is continually looking for ways to reduce the amount of energy and water it uses in its manufacturing operations. As an example of its efforts, the company revealed last year that it is making a four-year, $1 billion investment in its U.S. operations, which includes a new headquarters campus and a new manufacturing facility in Tennessee. Both will be energy efficient and will be built to attain LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

“We also continue to improve the way we transport our products by increasing our logistics efficiencies to significantly reduce fuel consumption and emissions,” said Lau. “Similarly, our plants throughout the world continue to find ways to reduce waste, recycle responsibly and run cleaner.”

In addition to the Newsweek ranking, Whirlpool earned a 2011 Energy Star Sustained Excellence Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The latest award was the company’s 12th and its sixth consecutive Sustained Excellence honor.

Whirlpool owns and operates 66 manufacturing and technology research centers around the world and employs 71,000.

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