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.

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.”

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

Brand perception: 2017 Hurricane Lessons Learned

The 2017 hurricane season has proven to be particularly trying for many businesses, as they worked around maintaining operations during Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Nate. As a result, many organizations found themselves questioning how to properly adjust policies and practices to mitigate risk and also protect their brand image.

Companies with outbound contact operations have been most susceptible to brand exposure, as they have had to tread carefully to remain efficient while not coming across as uncompassionate to those whose lives have been upended by hurricanes.

So how can companies, especially those with outbound components, reduce the risk to their brand reputation while remaining efficient during disasters? We advise companies to take a compassionate approach to brand and business management.

Look at your risk management strategies
Is your organization proactive or reactive when it comes to brand risk? If recent stories are any indication, it appears that many organizations are still working within a reactive environment, which can cripple brand reputation.

This is especially true for businesses with outbound contact strategies, as a slight miscommunication can cause major brand risks. For example, if your organization is making sales calls when consumers are enduring a hurricane and focused on surviving the disaster, you’re likely to face an unwelcome response. The same rules can be applied following a disastrous event as well. Imagine reaching out to a consumer to inform them that their mortgage payment is late when their house is no longer habitable. In each of these examples, a desire to maintain a “business as usual” approach can cause your consumer to take to the social airways to voice their concerns about your brand. Instead, corporations should focus on proactive outreach during disasters. Key to this process is developing a risk strategy built around both natural and manmade events.

Develop your disaster strategy
To mitigate brand risk, work to develop a strategy that takes a compassionate approach to business operations and your interactions with consumers affected by the disaster. This strategy should look at both outreach efforts as well as internal employee education to ensure that all relevant parties know their role in the strategy. Not only does this help protect your brand integrity and minimize your exposure to risk, but also helps improve customer relations.

I have seen contact centers email or text consumers ahead of a forecasted disaster to ensure that they are properly prepared for the event. I have also seen corporations alter their post-disaster outreach strategies to give consumers proper time to heal and rebuild.

When developing this approach, it is important to remember that not all disasters are forseen, so it is imperative to have distinct approaches to deal with both forecasted (hurricanes) and sporadic disasters (mass shootings, tornadoes), which provide limited-to-no lead time.

The media: your friend or your enemy
With any disaster comes a flood of media attention. Because missteps can cause a brand nightmare, I advise companies with outbound operations to have a story, but not become part of the story. Businesses should build a compassionate brand story that highlights their dedication to corporate social responsibility during disasters.

Coca-Cola, for example, used their brand platform to reinforce their dedication to consumer needs. During Harvey, Coke encouraged local aid workers to break into their Beaumont, Texas plant to pillage for drinking water and other supplies to support the community, which had been ravished by the storm. Not only did Coke take a proactive approach in supporting the community, it also showed that the town’s well-being was far more important than lost revenues.

Compare the positive impact of Coca-Cola’s example to the media scrutiny that Joel Osteen faced during Harvey. Word of his church being temporarily closed to those made homeless quickly surfaced across numerous media channels, placing him and his church on the defensive. Although his church did open soon after this news broke, his compassionate approach remained overshadowed by his negative press.

Time to think beyond revenues
Protecting your brand during disastrous times means thinking beyond revenues and, instead, approaching your prospects/customers as human beings, with an understanding of what they may be going through.

I encourage you to look at your current operating policies and ask if you are taking the steps to become a compassionate brand? If not, it may be time to look at changes that can be made to bring compassion to your operations.

State of Privacy in 2018: Q&A With Richard Purcell

Jan. 28 marks the annual Data Privacy Day (DPD), which was adopted in North America to bring together businesses and private citizens in an effort to share strategies for protecting consumers’ private information. Richard Purcell, DPD advisory board member and CEO of the Corporate Privacy Group spoke to Risk Management Monitor about the current state of privacy.

Risk Management Monitor: How do you view privacy?
Richard Purcell:
The concept of privacy is really complex and layered. I like to think of it as being grounded by two basic behaviors—respect and discretion. The idea of privacy is not the same as secrecy. Secrets are not shared and are kept hidden as unknown ideas or thoughts, whereas privacy is the act of sharing information, trusting that the recipient will not share it any further.

RMM: How has technology redefined privacy?
RP: Over the last several years, we’ve heard from individuals who believe that their privacy has been assailed. Upon examination, we might find some reasons that are relevant to our emerging technology use:

There are many instances in which people have lacked respect for their own information, sharing personal information with others and commercial interests without restraint. A simple review of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flicker, Tumblr and other social media sites confirms this. Just as often, commercial players have shown a lack of respect for the personal information entrusted to them by individuals. Examples include banks that have used customer information to open accounts without providing notice or asking for consent. This is a distinct showing of disrespect for the information.

Information has become the basis for commercial activity, so using and sharing personal information is quickly becoming how companies make money—Facebook is a social media site, but makes more than 90% of its revenues by selling users’ data to advertisers—credit bureaus make their money solely be collecting financial info, not from people, but from other companies, in order to calculate risk and sell reports (for example, credit reporting has a long history regarding privacy thru FICRA, FACTA, and OECD FIPs.).

RMM: In 2000 you were named Microsoft’s first corporate privacy officer. How has the privacy landscape changed since then?
RP: Privacy and data protection are beginning to be better and more closely integrated into security practices. It’s taken a long time to get them better integrated. Security practices have strong levels of discipline without much of a human factor. Privacy practices have strong moral bases, which security is getting more in tune with, so they are sharing their traits in ways that are helpful. We are not there yet, though, because security is a binary condition. You either have the security practices or you don’t. Privacy is harder to define because practices are more behaviorally based. We still find privacy issues are driven by human failings, errors or miscalculations as opposed to technologies.

Privacy professionals have gained more of a voice and authority over time in their organizations. They are not just advisers anymore, saying ‘Watch out for this,’ or ‘We can’t do that.’ They have become people with decision-making authority, which is only increasing. The position analyzes conditions and bases those recommendations on risk profiles and the challenges they present. Companies are then free to choose whether they take the risk or mitigate it.

RMM: What developments will impact your work in 2018?
RP: Regulatory changes matter a lot and apply to industrial sectors in the United States. External regulations are much more broadly applicable.

EU GDPR. Any company doing business in the EU has to adjust its governance program to comply with the GDPR by late May 2018. That means taking a broader definition of personal data; documenting its data processing activities; strengthening its user consent provisions; developing support for data erasure, portability and rectification; enhancing oversight and data breach responsiveness; and generally paying more attention to data protection.

EU ePrivacy. Broadband providers in the U.S. may celebrate the FCC dropping of the net neutrality/privacy rules, but they still have to deal with the EU ePrivacy Directive.

Australia, Korea, Japan and even China are strengthening their data protection programs. China announced its displeasure with the practices of Ant Financial (an Alibaba affiliate), Baidu (search organization) and Jinri Toutiao (newsfeed organization) for lacking adequate policies and practices in collecting, using and sharing personal information. You know something important is happening when China begins enforcing stronger privacy regulations.

Calif. Debris Removal Presents Health, Environmental Risks

Last week, Santa Barbara, California suffered 20 casualties, countless injuries and millions of dollars in property damage due to the unprecedented mudslides that tore through the city of Montecito. Search and rescue efforts continue in the aftermath of the phenomenon, which was caused by the heavy rains washing away ground laid bare by the Thomas Fire in December 2017. The resulting millions of pounds of debris left behind present biological and environmental risks to the area. Returning residents have been warned to protect against potentially hazardous chemicals and untreated sewage that were swept along with the mudslide debris. Meanwhile, where all this mud and debris will be moved to presents another dilemma.

Public Health Advisory
On Jan. 17, Santa Barbara County’s Public Health Department issued a public health advisory to warn about potential health conditions residents and workers may face as they return to their homes and businesses. The advisory states that “unknown amounts of potentially hazardous chemicals and untreated sewage were swept into the mudslide debris that flowed through impacted areas,” and provided tips for those affected to protect their health amid cleanup and recovery.

The advisory warned that residents also are at risk of wound infections, rashes, illnesses borne from raw sewage mixing into the debris and immersion foot syndrome (also known as “trench foot”), among other injuries.

Although it was encouraged to leave cleanups to professionals, the Health Department recommended Tetanus shots for those engaged in cleanup activities who have not been vaccinated during the past 10 years. It also acknowledged that while the hepatitis A virus could theoretically be spread via exposure to feces or raw sewage, it had not received any reports of that scenario and maintained the probability is low.

Removal Efforts
Temporary solutions for moving and storing the debris are reportedly in place. According to the Los Angeles Times, dump trucks “discarded at least 3,500 tons—or about 7 million pounds—of muck at the Ventura County Fairgrounds, where it will be stored temporarily until crews can sort through it.”

The Times continued:

Up to 1,000 tons more—per day—could eventually make it down to the Calabasas Landfill. To help with cleanup efforts, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday passed a temporary waiver to allow the intake through mid-April.

Santa Paula Materials, which sells rocks and recycled construction debris, will collect the rocks that are hauled out, while Standard Industries, a building material manufacturer, will take the metal and tires, said Lance Klug, spokesman for the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery’s Office of Emergency Services.

Wildfire Cleanup Ongoing
The mudslide debris removal compounds the already daunting task of clearing Thomas wildfire debris in other areas. On Jan. 12, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) announced that its cleanup program had moved nearly 1 million tons from the burn scarred areas and had completed work in Yuba, Butte, Nevada and Lake Counties, but “still had much work to be done.” The Environmental Chemical Corporation will continue the massive undertaking of debris clean-up in Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino Counties that were hard-hit during the October 2017 wildfire siege.

The Better Business Bureau issued guidelines for removing both wildfire and mud debris, classifying it into four main categories and recommending disposal in the following ways:

  • Branches, trees and vegetative wastes​ can be separated from the other debris and later can be sent to the community burn pile. These wastes can also be sent to a permitted disposal site.
  • Construction debris​. The structural materials from houses and buildings—such as concrete, boards, shingles, windows, siding and pipes—can be taken to the closest construction and demolition landfill or a permitted municipal solid waste landfill.
  • Other household wastes, ​such as trash and furniture, should be sent to a permitted municipal landfill.
  • Hazardous wastes​. If you believe the waste contains regulated hazardous materials, more care and caution is needed. These wastes should be containerized, labeled, and ultimately sent to a facility that is permitted to store, treat or dispose of hazardous wastes. In these instances, it is important to contact the department to discuss proper disposal procedures.

The guidelines also provide a full list of items that require special disposal, including pool chemicals, tires and commercial and medical waste.