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Oberhelman: Cat maintains commitment to sustainability

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Caterpillar Inc. has no plans to end its sustainability efforts borne by decades of initiatives, Chairman Doug Oberhelman told shareholders Thursday during the company’s annual meeting in Corinth, Mississippi.

That’s because, he said, the future needs of people around the world will rely on companies like Caterpillar to do their part for making the environment stronger and the economic stable.

"Caterpillar has been on this sustainability journey for decades and won’t ever stop. We will continue to build, develop and power the world, and make sustainable progress possible," Oberhelman said in his speech during the annual meeting at its flagship remanufacturing plant. It is there that old, used Caterpillar machines and parts are broken down and remanufactured to be like new. In fact, remanufactured parts carry the same warranty as new.

Oberhelman said the meeting’s location was one reason he chose to speak of Caterpillar commitment to sustainability and to outline the company's successes and initiatives in the three aspects of sustainability - economic, environmental and social.

"Over the last 10 years, our U.S. and overseas remanufacturing facilities have returned more than 500,000 tons of materials  ̶  materials that might have otherwise been scrapped or gone to a landfill ... and we’ve kept over one million tons of greenhouse gas out of the atmosphere through remanufacturing alone,” he said.

To give that perspective, he said one should consider the Empire State Building, which weighs 365,000 tons. Or, closer to home, 500,000 tons equals the weight of 4,300 D11 bulldozers, the largest Caterpillar makes.

“Those numbers are pretty impressive.  We can be very proud of our sustainability record, and we’re going to keep improving. We’ve continued to make our operations safer. We’ve got a great example right here -- the Sawyer facility core processing team has gone seven years with zero injuries. 

“World leadership in safety and remanufacturing are two examples of how sustainability is integral to Caterpillar, and it has been ever since our company was formed promising to deliver durable and reliable tractors,” he said.

Oberhelman said it’s important to discuss sustainability and continue to commit to it “because the world’s middle class is projected to more than double from 2 billion today to 4.9 billion by 2030. They will expect – and deserve  ̶  higher standards of living. It’s important because nearly one billion people in the world today lack access to clean water. It’s important because energy demand is expected to double between now and 2050. It’s important because Caterpillar is uniquely positioned to help meet these demands for energy, water, and higher living standards.”

Noting that Caterpillar has made sustainability one of its core values, Oberhelman likened it to a three-legged stool. Each leg  ̶  economical, environmental and social  ̶  must be equal or the entire system will be out of balance.

He cited numerous examples of how Caterpillar keeps each leg balanced, including such things as fuel efficiency, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and investments in education.  

“Caterpillar is, and will remain, a company our employees are proud to work for, a company our customers are proud to do business with and a company our shareholders are proud to own,” Oberhelman said.


About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).