June Meeting: Ford’s Path to Sustainability, Plus Beneficial Reuse


West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum will present a luncheon program featuring one of the nation’s leading sustainability practitioners on Monday, June 23 at the University Club in Grand Rapids from 12 to 2 pm.  Presented by Warner Norcross & Judd.

John Viera, the global director of sustainability at Ford Motor Co. has helped to bring a whole new view of sustainability to his company in the past five years. Before he was promoted to his current position, Viera says many people at Ford saw sustainability as more of a philanthropic venture than a business factor — and the sustainability director position was viewed mainly as a public relations role. Under his tenure, Ford has created a long-term product strategy based on stabilizing its carbon dioxide emissions, has increased its use of recycled materials in its vehicles and has created the first human rights code in the auto industry, which specifies working conditions — such as temperatures and fair wages — for its employees.

Viera will talk about his secrets to success, such as finding ways to make the business case for sustainability for every element of the company — including product development, manufacturing, purchasing, human resources and more — in order to build support throughout the ranks.

Warner Norcross & Judd Partner Troy Cummings will discuss Michigan House Bills 5400-5402, the new Beneficial Use Reform Act. If passed, the legislation will amend the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act in an effort to promote the use of beneficial use byproducts such as power plant ash, foundry sand and pulp and paper mill residuals. Advocates for the law believe that encouraging the responsible reuse of low-hazard materials will reduce disposal costs for manufacturers and provide economical savings over other raw materials that would otherwise be needed, extend the capacity of landfills and conserve resources, assure the safety of the materials for potential use and promote the concept of sustainability.

Cummings, chair of the WNJ Government Affairs practice group, represents businesses, municipalities and associations on matters before the Michigan Legislature and state agencies, including healthcare, environmental, natural resource, economic development, tax, banking and other issues.

Cost for lunch is $10 for WMSBF members, $15 for non-members.

Learn more and register here.

Update:  A third speaker was planned for the event but had to withdraw due to a personal conflict.

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