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Finding Social Innovation In The Least Likely Places

Even at what appear to be unsustainable companies—such as Alcoa—they are finding ways to mitigate impact. And these innovations may, in fact, be the most important of all.

Stephanie Wolcott is the social responsibility director at the Alcoa Foundation. Alcoa, if you don’t know, is the world’s third largest producer of aluminum—it’s an enormous mining company that operates in 44 countries around the world.

Alcoa is also not what you might think of as the kind of company getting behind social innovation. It’s the 16th largest corporate polluter in the United States, and is responsible for a handful of Superfund sites.

On the other hand, because none of us are giving up aluminum any time soon (says the man holding a soda can), it’s not so helpful to simply write off the efforts of a company like Alcoa as greenwashing. Given that we’re all happy to live in an aluminum-filled world, the Alcoa efforts to somehow mitigate its sizable impact that Wolcott describes are incredibly important—and ripe for innovation to make them as impactful as possible.

This video is part of a series on prominent social innovators, convened by PwC during the 2011 Social Innovation Summit and discussing their work that we’ll be hosting here on Co.Exist.

Here’s a little preview of everyone who will be featured.

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  • Dtp

     If only they put as much effort(and money) into being environmentally responsible as they do into polishing their own image and pumping out propaganda. They are pulling out all the stops when it comes to minimizing the amount they will have to pay to clean up THEIR messes in Massena, NY and Badin, NC as we speak. They have already had taxpayer help cleaning up "superfund" sites and no doubt will be pushing for superfund II from our kids when their economy cleanups in these 2 areas proves insufficient 20 years down the road. They constantly tout their ethics, but refuse to clean their own mess. Kind of a contradiction, don't you think?