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GE Ups Green R&D Budget

GE Ups Green R&D Budget

"I do believe that at some point in time, customers are going to say, 'I don't want anything but an environmentally friendly product.'"
- Lorraine Bolsinger, GE Ecomagination vice president

November 5, 2007 —

General Electric, which for decades has held one of the worst environmental reputations in the country, finally seems to be getting serious about cleaning up its act. Having dabbled in some of the more ridiculous green schemes ever perpetrated by a PR department, GE has made some promises recently that actually merit praise.

The most significant of these pledges is the announcement that GE will increase its annual green research and development budget to at least $1.5 billion. To put that in perspective, the company's R&D spending in 2006 was around $5.7 billion, meaning that green research should account for somewhere between 15 - 25 percent of the total budget beginning next year.

That's a substantive change for a company like GE, whose bottom line is under more daily scrutiny than most heads of state. When numbers this large are involved, it's a sign that profit, not greenwashing, is the primary motivating factor behind a piece of good news. Further proof of this is GE's estimate that green products will account for $8 billion of its sales between now and 2010.


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