10 Questions with our Chief Sustainability Officer
Give us a little background about you. What influenced your path to sustainability?
I was born and raised in Jamaica. An island that, despite its relatively small size, has captured a significant amount of space in the minds and hearts of people all over the world. Known equally for athletics, music, large personalities, and stunning natural beauty. The name Jamaica is based on the word Xaymaca, used by the original inhabitants of the island to say, “land of wood and water.” My first and last memories of Jamaica and everything in between has always been highlighted by stunning images of natural beauty – tropical trees, mountains, vibrant flowers, fruits, clean air, and streams, and a Caribbean Sea whose clear blue surface was at times indistinguishable from the horizon as it brushes against the azure sky.
I spent hours of my day outside, taking it all in. I would climb and sit in treetops eating mangos, Otaheite apples, oranges, and just take it all in. I would walk through fields of sugar cane, look at a kaleidoscope of tropical flowers and leaves, and take it all in. I would climb up and sit on my roof, watch the sunset, and I would take it all in. What a wonderful world I got to live in.
But I was not oblivious to the other side of the coin. During those years I could also smell and see the acrid black smoke belched out by large trucks. I saw waste being discharged into many of our rivers, streams, and the sea. There was more trash than we seemed to have space to store. The contrast was so stark, and at times so maddening to me, that I committed to doing the least amount of harm to the world and making a positive difference where I could.
Whether it was getting a degree in civil and environmental engineering or taking roles in environmental permitting for the County of Los Angeles or advocating for sustainability and socially responsible activities in every role and company I joined, or ultimately discovering remanufacturing – I placed a high priority on doing what’s right for the planet. I want this world to be a beautiful place not only for me and my children but for generations to come. It is my privilege to do my small part to make this possible.
How was your role created? And why do you see a need for an executive to focus on sustainability?
The Chief Sustainability Officer role was created in 2021 to address customer, industry, and global demands that businesses should be aware of the impacts they are making outside of the balance sheet. BBB Industries also needed a voice to communicate the immense environmental impact that we have because of the products we sustainably manufacture.
What are our day-to-day responsibilities as the Chief Sustainability Officer?
One of the beautiful aspects of my role is that my day-to-day responsibilities change frequently. One day I have two or three meetings with customers who purchase our products. These customers want to understand the environmental impact of working with a sustainable manufacturer. They want to understand how they can leverage this amongst their own customers. On other days I am working with our internal teams to drive BBB projects that lower our carbon footprint while manufacturing finished goods. Depending on the project we may be focusing on, I could be directing an energy transition project in Mexico or facilitating an energy efficiency project in Tennessee. Regardless of what I am doing on a specific day, I know that I can come to work for a company that places an emphasis on how it positively impacts the environment.
What is the long-term sustainability initiative for the company?
In May of this year, our Board of Directors approved a plan to significantly reduce our carbon emissions over the next five years. We are happy to say that we have shown early progress in this long-term initiative. Fortunately, our sustainability initiatives are more than just carbon reductions. We are targeting waste reuse, water reuse, and implementing a sustainable mindset in each process here at BBB Industries. Beyond the walls of our sustainable manufacturing facilities, we hope to inspire other organizations to take on a sustainable mindset and focus on meeting the needs of today without impacting the needs of tomorrow’s communities.
How do you keep up with the latest developments in sustainability?
From that question, I can tell that you understand that sustainability is a dynamic topic. I generally stay up to date on the sustainability sections of major news outlets. I make sure to stay up to date with any publishing of corporate sustainability reports. This helps me understand who is focused on what sustainability topics. Finally, I review academic journals from various universities across the globe.
What has been the most successful sustainability-driven project BBB has implemented to date?
I immediately think of one project where one of our EHS managers brought a water-saving project to the Reynosa site which led to a major water-saving effort for the facility. It shows how one small idea can make a significant impact on an organization. It also shows how the best ideas come from those teammates who see the process every day and know where we can improve.
Is there a climate-related project that you’re working on right now that excites you?
Right now, we are considering the implementation of solar energy implementation at various locations across BBB and this is very exciting to me because it bridges the two aspects of BBB. Sustainable Manufacturing and Solar with Ontility. Both are pivotal to BBB’s success. By powering our manufacturing facilities with Ontility’s sustainably manufactured panels we show that BBB is on track to long-term success.
How do we educate and engage employees?
I said before that our best ideas come from those teammates who are seeing our process in place each day, so it is so important to me that our teammates are educated and engaged in our sustainability strategy. To accomplish this, we share case studies and sustainability education classes at each of our sites. Through partnerships with global organizations, we continue to provide education opportunities for our employees. We encourage contests and new ideas to be shared on our BBB social site. All of this encourages the commitment to sustainability from the CEO seat all the way to the production floor.
What would you recommend to other companies trying to make sustainability changes?
It can be difficult for companies to break away from the “business-as-usual” ways of doing things. However, we need to think a little differently about sustainability. The more we look for opportunities to eliminate waste or reduce electricity or fuel usage, the more we reduce costs, increase earnings, and create long-term value. For this reason, I would recommend that other organizations take risks and challenge the status quo.
How do you see BBB stacking up with other companies across the globe when it comes to sustainability strategy?
I truly believe that BBB Industries is among the world leaders in Sustainability, Environmental Impact, and Circular Economy Strategy. I hear this constantly from our peers, customers, and others within and outside of our industry. We’ve taken the time and energy to make this a priority.
For more about Mark visit: www.bbbind.com/sustainability