'Going Green' Puts Business in the Red

Like the latest runway trend, "green is the new black" according to the media. At least where business is concerned. But it turns out that companies are finding "going green" is an easy way to put themselves in the red.

Back in 2003 FedEx announced it would begin switching to hybrid trucks and won an award from the Environmental Protection Agency, but at $70,000 more per truck the costs got in the way. Four years later, the company has fewer than 100 hybrid trucks, according to the October 29 BusinessWeek.

Other companies like PepsiCo and Caterpillar could face problems with the bottom line because of their support for more government regulation, said Steve Milloy on CNBC's "Street Signs" October 12.

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Still many companies are going green anyway, and the media is cheering them on and in some cases even taking part. NBC Universal announced its “Green is Universal” initiative on October 23, which included “raising awareness” “through what we do in front of the cameras and behind the scenes” as well as greening the company’s own operations. That will include a week of “green”-themed programming beginning November 4.

But it seems NBC has an odd idea of what it means to go green. NBC’s “Today” crew will jet around the globe, sending reporters to the Arctic Circle, Antarctica and Ecuador, according to its October 29 broadcast.

“Well, the journey has begun. ‘Today’ is going to the ends of the earth to report on the changing climate … It all begins exactly a week from today,” said co-host Matt Lauer, who will be in the Arctic Circle for the November 5 simulcast.

This week the Business & Media Institute analyzed coverage of corporate efforts to go green and found that additional costs of eco-friendly choices are often ignored by reporters. You can find the entire story here. If you like what you see, please be sure to sign up for BMI's weekly email newsletter The Balance Sheet.

Julia A. Seymour
Julia A. Seymour
Julia A. Seymour is the Assistant Managing Editor for the MRC's Business and Media Institute.