That was the initial message from Mitch Jackson, FedEx vice president of environmental affairs and sustainability, during his plenary keynote talk on “Practical Sustainability” Tuesday at the Tennessee Environmental Conference.
“When you look at a map of the future, it’s a blurry mess,” he told about 350 conference attendees at the event held at the MeadowView Conference Resort and Convention Center. “It’s just this nebulous idea of what can occur. … Show me someone who predicts the future, and I will show you someone who is right some of the time and is specifically wrong all of the time.”
Jackson spearheaded the implementation of hybrid-electric vehicles for the global transportation logistics network that connects businesses. He also successfully pushed legislation for fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions in commercial trucking.
As of December 2012, FedEx’s hybrid-electric vehicles had logged 14.8 million miles and saved 480,000 gallons of fuel since being introduced to its fleet in 2005, according to the company.
Jackson stressed the move and other sustainability measures have saved $1 billion.
The company’s goal is also to reduce aircraft emissions 30 percent by 2020 on an emissions per available-ton-mile basis and get 30 percent of its jet fuel from alternative fuels by 2030, plus expand on-site renewable energy generation.
“We believe that local economic growth, for instance Kingsport here, requires connectivity with the rest of the world, and it’s our goal and responsibility that it’s sustainable,” Jackson noted.
FedEx also plans to invest $200 million in its communities by 2020, Jackson disclosed.
“Millennials want to know that an organization they are working for has a higher purpose,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s just information.”
FedEx’s sustainability platform is called Earthsmart, which emphasizes innovation.
“If you’re not innovating, you’re not growing. … In order to succeed and be sustainable over the long term, we need to innovate,” Jackson emphasized.
He closed by telling attendees to avoid so-called “pinball leadership.”
“If you’re bouncing around in what you do and you’re only working to keep the ball in play for your organization and you’re not looking at that map of the future and eliminating those hot spots … you’re reacting,” he concluded. “You’re not leading.”
For more about the conference, go to www.tnenvironment.com.