2020 Visions: Companies Adopt Recycling Initiatives

Decreasing their environmental impact seems to have been a New Year’s resolution for many companies and governments in 2018. This month, several major organizations announced ambitious recycling campaigns in an effort to appease consumers, reduce costs and limit environmental harm.

Dow Chemicals
A collaboration between the U.S. Green Building Council and Dow Building Solutions aims to reduce carbon emissions by advising two cities or communities to help in achieving Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. The Dow Chemical subsidiary announced these plans last week as a reaction to data that buildings are currently responsible for about one-third of global energy consumption, about 30% of global energy-related CO2 emissions and 20% of total CO2 emissions.

“This partnership will offer expertise from Dow and USGBC that will not only directly help selected communities reduce their carbon footprint, but will also pave the way for other communities to do the same,” Greg Bergtold, director of advocacy for Dow Building Solutions said in a statement.

In October 2017, Dow announced a strategic partnership to produce recycled plastic bags that are being used to collect trash on ocean shores. Using post-industrial plastic scraps, Dow’s RETAIN recycling technology enabled the production of the recycled bags used for the cleanup.

McDonald’s
This week, McDonald’s pledged that by 2025 all of its guest packaging will originate “from renewable, recycled, or certified sources with a preference for Forest Stewardship Council certification.” The fast food giant will also strive to recycle guest packaging in all of its locations in that same year.

This expands upon McDonald’s existing goal that by 2020, 100% of its fiber-based packaging will come from recycled or certified sources where no deforestation occurs.

“Our customers have told us that packaging waste is the top environmental issue they would like us to address,” Francesca DeBiase, McDonald’s chief supply chain and sustainability officer said in a statement. “Our ambition is to make changes our customers want and to use less packaging, sourced responsibly and designed to be taken care of after use, working at and beyond our restaurants to increase recycling and help create cleaner communities.”

Coca-Cola
To combat what Coca-Cola’s CEO James Quincey referred to as the “world’s packaging problem,” the company announced a sustainability plan called World Without Waste. The strategy will focus on the entire packaging lifecycle—from the creation of bottles and cans through their use and how they’re recycled and repurposed.

Part of its initiative is a plan to recycle a bottle or can for each one sold. By 2030, the company will collect or recycle the equivalent of its entire packaging output; and it is aiming to make bottles half-composed of recycled content. Quincey acknowledged the timing of his company’s and McDonald’s announcements as a coincidence, but that they would collaborate since its drinks are sold at McDonald’s restaurants.

Greenpeace, a vocal critic of Coca-Cola, said the company should focus on reducing the amount of plastic it produces, rather than just recycling more. “We can’t recycle our way out of this mess,” said Greenpeace campaigner Louise Edge, in a statement.

The United Kingdom
Similar initiatives are also appearing overseas in the form of legislation. In the United Kingdom, where there is a levy against plastic bags, members of Parliament announced plans to potentially fund infrastructure and cut down on 30,000 tons of waste by imposing a tax on each coffee cup sold by a retailer. The Guardian reported that 2.5 billion to-go coffee cups are disposed of annually in the U.K., not counting the coffee grips, stirrers and other amenities often associated with a standard coffee drink. The short-term solution is for retailers to sell reusable cups and for consumers to repeatedly bring them when out for a cup of joe.

An audit report indicated that one in 400 cups are recycled – less than 0.25%—and half a million coffee cups are littered each day in the U.K. Members of Parliament are calling for:

  • A 25p levy (35 cents, USD) on coffee bought in takeaway cups to be used to reduce the number of cups thrown away and invest in reprocessing facilities
  • Introduction of a ban on throwaway coffee cups if a target that all takeaway cups are recyclable by 2023 is not met
  • Coffee chains to pay more towards disposing of cups
  • Improved labeling to better educate consumers

Flu-Related Deaths on the Rise

Frigid weather across the United States and low effectiveness of this year’s flu vaccine have been blamed for a jump in the number of flu cases being reported across the country. Epidemiologists in 36 states so far have reported widespread influenza activity to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of those states, 21 reported a high number of cases.

Worldwide, the estimated number of fatalities caused by seasonal influenza-related respiratory illnesses is also higher than expected, according to the CDC. The agency released a new study in December 2017 with statistics indicating that between 291,000 and 646,000 people die from influenza every year, an increase from the previous estimate of 250,000 to 500,000. The estimates were drawn from a collaborative multinational survey conducted by the CDC and its global health partners.

“These findings remind us of the seriousness of flu and that flu prevention should really be a global priority,” said Joe Bresee, M.D., associate director for global health in CDC’s Influenza Division and a study co-author.

The study, which appeared in The Lancet, excluded data related to pandemics, indicated that poorer nations and older adults are especially at risk. It explained:

People age 75 years and older and people living in sub-Saharan African countries experienced the highest rates of flu-associated respiratory deaths. Eastern Mediterranean and Southeast Asian countries had slightly lower but still high rates of flu-associated respiratory deaths.

One cause for the rise could be that few developing countries have seasonal flu vaccination programs or the capacity to produce and distribute seasonal or pandemic vaccines.

The information was released following the CDC’s National Influenza Vaccination Week, which was held in early December 2017. That also marked what is typically considered the start of the season which continues through February in the U.S., although activity can last as late as May. Flu activity is expected to increase this month, the CDC warned back in December, and the freezing conditions from last week’s “bomb cyclone” may contribute to fully realizing that prediction.

People at high risk include:

  • Pregnant women.
  • Children younger than 5 years old, but especially children younger than 2 years old.
  • People 65 years of age and older.
  • People of any age who have certain medical conditions, such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease.

The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) suggests that employers use this critical time to promote policies and procedures to protect their employees from communicable diseases like influenza, and reinforce that the risks may be greater for certain workers. According to SHRM:

Employers must be open to discuss employee concerns and listen to their ideas and suggestions for ways to help them stay healthy. Employers can encourage employees who are at high risk to talk with their health care provider to determine what, if any, additional measures they should consider to keep themselves healthy and safe at work. Employers should strongly consider doctor’s accommodation requests for high-risk workers.

The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) web site has a fact sheet and guidelines for companies to follow with regard to the flu and pandemics. Additionally, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has a page with tips for employers hoping to curb seasonal flu outbreaks in their workplaces and among employees. NIOSH’s suggestions include:

RIMS Membership Has a Say in COSO’s New ERM Framework

When Risk & Insurance Management Society (RIMS) members use the new ERM framework published Sept. 6 by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of theTreadway Commission (COSO), they may recognize their own ideas prominently displayed. Carol Fox, RIMS vice president of strategic initiatives announced the call for public comment on Risk Management Monitor in June 2016. She said feedback from the industry, and particularly RIMS members, is reflected in COSO’s ERM Framework: Integrating with Strategy and Performance.

“RIMS members took advantage of the unique opportunity to influence one of the industry’s major guidance documents. For several weeks, members collaborated and drafted a response, which was publicly available through the end of last year,” said Fox, who participated on the project’s advisory council. “We were very appreciative that COSO reached out to RIMS and other professional associations, whose input strengthened the content, ideas and approaches featured in Integrating with Strategy and Performance.

A summary of the public comment feedback includes:

  • More than 200 responses–double that of the internal control update
  • Over 70% of responses from individuals
  • Over 50% of participation outside of North America
  • Almost 50% had affiliations beyond COSO memberships
  • Almost 50% of respondents had 10 or more years of risk management experience
  • Positive ratings outnumbered negative ratings by 4.5 to 1

The new publication serves as an update to 2004’s Enterprise Risk Management – Integrated Framework, which is internationally regarded as the standard for applied risk management frameworks. Developed by PwC under the direction of the COSO Board, its simple, five-component structure considers various viewpoints and operating structures while highlighting the importance of enterprise risk management in strategic planning. It also emphasizes embedding ERM throughout an organization, as risk influences strategy and performance throughout the organization.

“The complexity of risk has changed, new risks have emerged, and both boards and executives have enhanced their awareness and oversight of enterprise risk management while asking for improved risk reporting,” said COSO Chair Robert B. Hirth Jr. “Our overall goal is to continue to encourage a risk-conscious culture.”

Enterprise Risk Management: Integrating with Strategy and Performance is available in printed form, e-book, on-line subscription and pdf licensing for large organizations, accounting and consulting firms. Additionally, COSO is planning for the framework to be translated into several languages, including Chinese, Japanese, Spanish and French.

Visit www.coso.org for purchase information and for a link to the framework’s executive summary.

Lloyd’s Plans for Post-Brexit Subsidiary

Just one day after the U.K. set in motion its process for withdrawal from the European Union by triggering Article 50, Lloyd’s announced it was establishing a subsidiary in Brussels, intending to be able to write EU business for the Jan. 1, 2019, renewal season.

The new company will write risks from all 27 European Union countries and three European Economic Area states once Brexit is completed. Because Britain remains a full member of the EU for at least two more years, there will be no immediate impact on existing policies, renewals or new policies, including multi-year policies written during this period of time, the insurer said. The Brussels subsidiary will have its own board of directors and, unlike some banks that have said they will move hundreds of employees to the EU, it will only employ dozens of staff in areas such as information technology and compliance.

Hank Watkins, president of Lloyd’s North America spoke to Risk Management about the company’s plans and the why it chose Belgium as its new location.

RM: How did the process of finding a new EU base begin?

Watkins: Within a week or two of [the Brexit vote] last June, Lloyd’s was on its way, looking across Europe for a new domicile, if you will, for our European business. We are not moving out of London—what we have done is set up an insurance company in Brussels, purely to allow us to passport around the European Union. Because we are not necessarily confident that the U.K. will be able to negotiate passporting rights with the other countries, we are assuming they are not. If they are ultimately successful, then we will just close up and go back home, but that probably will not be the case.

RM: How will the subsidiary work?

Watkins: If you are a policyholder with Lloyd’s, where you previously would have received a policy with all of the syndicates subscribed to it, and that would have been stamped by each of those syndicates, you will also receive an identical policy for the European exposures. It will have the Lloyd’s insurance company name on it and the syndicate stamp of that insurance company and the Lloyd’s syndicates. It is just a little more paperwork for us. The policy is the same—it does not change coverage and it does not change pricing—It is more of an administrative effort to align with what the regulator expects. And our ratings are not affected, we are still S&P-, AM Best- and Fitch-rated A or better and the central fund is still very strong.

RM: Why Belgium?

Watkins: We found a regulator there who is allowing us basically to cede 100% of the premium and the risk back to the syndicate in London. Every other country has some variation of wanting to maintain part of the risk in their country but that does not work for us. So Belgium is a very strong regulator centered in the heart of Europe and a great talent pool as we build out the platform—which won’t be that large, by the way, because we are not necessarily moving people there.

RM: How will insureds be impacted?

Watkins: Companies with no risks in the European Union will see no impact, and it will be seamless for international companies with risks in the EU. Also, it is probably not as well known, but because we are not just large, commercial risks, we do insure a lot of homeowners on the coastlines and a number of private yachts and aircraft, so this is a way to seamlessly include coverage for them in Europe as well.