Cascade Alliance

One Good Thing: Businesses Set Waste Reduction Goals to Create a Healthier Planet

Last week SVdP Executive Director, Terry McDonald and Cascade Alliance Director, Bethany Cartledge, attended the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Sustainability and Circular Economy Summit in Washington D.C. It was inspiring to participate in passionate conversations about environmental responsibility with speakers from such a wide variety of industries.

One of the presentations we attended featured speaker Lauren Riley, from United Airlines.  Lauren is the Managing Director of Global Environmental Affairs and Sustainability for United.  She is responsible for leading United’s efforts in environmental compliance, waste, water and energy management, sustainable aviation fuel, and overall environmental sustainability strategy.

United is investing in environmentally responsible, low-carbon sustainable aviation fuels.  They have improved their fuel efficiency by 45% since 1990.  United is aiming towards a collective industry goal of 1.5% average improvement of annual fuel efficiency through 2020, carbon neutral growth beginning in 2020, and a 50% reduction in airline CO2 emissions by 2050.  ‘

Other initiatives they’ve taken is onboard recycling, encourage the airports they work with to recycle paper, cardboard, aluminum cans and bottles, printed their Hemispheres magazine on lighter material, and adjusted the food and drinks they serve to reduce the potential for waste and added aircraft weight.  United became the first airline to partner with Clean the World, an organization that recycles partially used soap, shampoo, and other hygiene products.

Overall organization moves they’ve taken to become a more sustainable company has been installing energy efficient lighting and mechanical systems in their United Club locations and airport terminals.

To read more about United’s commitment to the environment, click here.

We later heard from John Kotlarczyk Jr, Senior Director of Corporate Social Responsibility and Waste Reduction for Walgreens Boots Alliance. Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) is the first global pharmacy-led, health and well-being enterprise.  The creation of WBA provides an opportunity to continue to accelerate the development of a fully integrated platform for the future and provide innovative and new ways to address health and wellness challenges.

The last speaker we heard from was Meredith Lindvall, Recycling and Waste Diversion Manager at Cox Enterprises.  COX Enterprises is a global conglomerate that manages brands such as AutoTrader, Kelley Blue Book, Gamut, and more.  Their major operating subsidiaries include Cox Communications, Cox Automotive, and Cox Media Group.

In 2007, they launched their national sustainability program.  Since 2007, they’ve offset 148,000 tons of CO2, diverted 170,000 tons of waste, and conserved 81 million gallons of water.  In 2018 they made progress towards their goal to send zero waste to the landfill by 20245 and become water and carbon neutral by 2044.  This would offset over 9,000 tons of carbon and reduce waste by almost 40,000 tons. They have a zero-waste goal they intend to meet by 2024 through waste management, creative recycling solutions, and employee engagement.

We are encouraged to see large companies take collaborative action to keep our environment and planet healthy!