The CERES Principles

Tara Wesely


Remember the Exxon Valdez oil spill? Immediately following this disaster, a coalition of environmentalists and investors realized that in order to effect real environmental change, they needed industry leaders to accept responsibility for their company’s impacts on the environment. The coalition drafted the below principles – originally dubbed the Valdez principles – to guide businesses on their individual path to environmental sustainability. Companies who endorse the CERES Principles make a long-term commitment to the principles and are expected to publish annual reports marking their progress.

The CERES Principles

By adopting these principles, we publicly affirm our belief that corporations have a responsibility for the environment, and must conduct all aspects of our business as responsible stewards of the environment by operating in a manner that protects the Earth. We believe that corporations must not compromise the ability of future generations to sustain themselves.

We will update our practices constantly in light of advances in technology and new understandings in health and environmental science. In collaboration with CERES, we will promote a dynamic process to ensure that the principles are interpreted in a way that accommodates changing technologies and environmental realities. We intend to make consistent, measurable progress in implementing these principles and to apply them to all aspects of our operations throughout the world.

1. Protection of the Biosphere

We will reduce and make continual progress toward eliminating the release of any substance that may cause environmental damage to the air, water, or the earth or its inhabitants. We will safeguard all habitats affected by our operations and will protect open spaces and wilderness, while preserving biodiversity.

2. Sustainable Use of Natural Resources

We will make sustainable use of renewable natural resources, such as water, soils and forests. We will conserve non-renewable natural resources through efficient use and careful planning.

3. Reduction and Disposal of Wastes

We will reduce and where possible eliminate waste through source reduction and recycling. All waste will be handled and disposed of through safe and responsible methods.

4. Energy Conservation

We will conserve energy and improve the energy efficiency of our internal operations and of the goods and services we sell. We will make every effort to use environmentally safe and sustainable energy sources.

5. Risk Reduction

We will strive to minimize the environmental, health and safety risks to our employees and the communities in which we operate through safe technologies, facilities and operating procedures, and by being prepared for emergencies.

6. Safe Products and Services

We will reduce and where possible eliminate the use, manufacture or sale of products and services that cause environmental damage or health or safety hazards. We will inform our customers of the environmental impacts of our products or services and try to correct unsafe use.

7. Environmental Restoration

We will promptly and responsibly correct conditions we have caused that endanger health, safety or the environment. To the extent feasible, we will redress injuries we have caused to persons or damage we have caused to the environment and will restore the environment.

8. Informing the Public

We will inform in a timely manner everyone who may be affected by conditions caused by our company that might endanger health, safety or the environment. We will regularly seek advice and counsel through dialogue with persons in communities near our facilities. We will not take any action against employees for reporting dangerous incidents or conditions to management or to appropriate authorities.

9. Management Commitment

We will implement these principles and sustain a process that ensures that the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer are fully informed about pertinent environmental issues and are fully responsible for environmental policy. In selecting our Board of Directors, we will consider demonstrated environmental commitment as a factor.

10. Audits and Reports

We will conduct an annual self-evaluation of our progress in implementing these principles. We will support the timely creation of generally accepted environmental audit procedures. We will annually complete the CERES Report, which will be made available to the public.

These principles establish an environmental ethic with criteria by which investors and others can assess the environmental performance of companies. Companies that endorse these principles pledge to go voluntarily beyond the requirements of the law. The terms may and might in Principles One and Eight are not meant to encompass every imaginable consequence, no matter how remote. Rather, these principles obligate endorsers to behave as prudent persons who are not governed by conflicting interests and who possess a strong commitment to environmental excellence and to human health and safety.

These principles are not intended to create new legal liabilities, expand existing rights or obligations, waive legal defenses, or otherwise affect the legal position of any endorsing company, and are not intended to be used against an endorser in any legal proceeding for any purpose.

Sidebar: ARROW

The cities of Apple Valley, Burnsville and Eagan offer ARROW – Awards for Reduction and Recycling of Waste. A program designed to recognize local businesses that make environmentlaly-friendly choices in managing their resources by:

* Having a recycling program in place.
* Buying recycled products with recycled content.
* Reducing more waste in the office or in the production.
* Reusing by-products or other supply elements.

Once eligibility is determined, recipients receive a window sticker and certificate, and they are published annually. For more information on how to get your business certified or for ideas on how to start your own environmental recognition program contact:

Apple Valley 952-953-257

Burnsville 952-895-4559

Eagan 651-681-4611

Web Resources

CERES Network for Change:

Business for Social Responsibility:

Green Biz:


Print Resources

The Ecology of Commerce, Paul Hawken, 1994

Cannibals with Forks: The Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business, John Elkington, 1998



The Alliance for Sustainability

Minnesota Sustainable Communities Network

CERES Principles

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