Breaking down corporations’ largest impact on the environment

Manufacturers need supplies. That's obvious, sure, but in order to make a computer, those pieces must come from an enormous series of suppliers based all over the world. But those pieces, like modems, for instance, are assembled with parts from even more suppliers. This series of manufacturers and suppliers is known as the supply chain, and research into the process has shown that it has a substantial effect on the environment.

As a result, even though a company may be producing an environmentally friendly product, it might have already left a bigger carbon footprint than you'd think.

The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), an independent not-for-profit organization, researches the impact that businesses and cities have on the environment. Each year, the CDP releases a series of reports about its studies on a handful of different industries. Among them is a detailed breakdown of how their members, some of the largest corporations in the world, are disrupting the ecosystem by acquiring supplies. According to the 2011 CDP Supply Chain Report, more than 50 percent of the average corporation's carbon emissions come from its supply chain.

Among the CDP's many members are Google, PepsiCo, IBM and Bank of America. Taking into consideration the size of these corporations and the others that are members of the CDP, the organization's work could dramatically change the amount of carbon emissions produced through the chain if companies pay attention to its research.

For example, the CDP's 2011 Supply Chain Report revealed that about 2,500 of the largest global corporations create roughly 20 to 25 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.

The study serves a reminder that if you're looking to truly go green when you buy products, it may be wise to look for businesses that make homemade goods or get their supplies locally.

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