Green Spot: Pitney Bowes Takes Charge of Energy, Environmental Issues

May 15, 2008
IndustryWeek asked Paul Robbertz, Vice President, Environment Health & Safety, at Pitney Bowes to talk about how his company is dealing with the current energy and environmental challenges.

Q. How are you addressing energy efficiency?

A. Pitney Bowes consistently monitors its energy consumption through an Energy Task Force. This is a cross-functional team that was formed in 2005 with the goal of developing programs to conserve energy, support clean energy and reduce costs. Conservation projects include everything from retrofitting lights to reconfiguring compressed air systems, optimizing boilers, upgrading office systems, and co-generating heat and electricity. The company also conducts periodic energy audits. Over the past two years the company's task force has been responsible for projects that have eliminated over 380 tons of carbon dioxide emissions from its operations.

In addition to energy efficiency throughout its operations, Pitney Bowes partnered in 1996 with the U.S. EPA and the U.S. Department of Energy to develop Energy Star guidelines for select mailing systems.

Q. Have you evaluated alternative, renewable (i.e., solar and wind) production on-site at the facility level, either through owning/operating a system or through PPA (power purchase agreement) with an installer/supplier etc.?

A. Since 2003, Pitney Bowes has offset the equivalency of 15,471 tons of carbon dioxide through the purchase of certified renewable energy credits. Pitney Bowes is also a co-founder of the Green Power Market Development Group, which aims to develop corporate markets for 1,000 megawatts of new, cost-competitive clean energy by 2010.

Pitney Bowes was recognized nationally by the U.S. EPA in 2008 for its participation in the EPA's Green Power Partnership program, which is a voluntary activity that challenges Fortune 500 companies to purchase green power. The company is currently conducting research on renewable energy sources and assessing their viability for its operations.

Q. How are you addressing facilities and equipment management?

A. Corporate Real Estate and the Environment, Health and Safety division of Pitney Bowes work together to identify opportunities within the company's operations to lessen environmental impact.

In addition, Pitney Bowes recently completed a World Headquarters renovation that implemented the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards wherever feasible.

We sourced environmentally-friendly materials for the project, such as synthetic drywall, 100% recyclable carpet and ceiling tiles, and materials that would not emit harmful chemicals, such as VOC-free paint, environmentally friendly substrates and glues in millwork. The project implemented superior energy efficiency through the installation of indirect lighting and DDC controls for HVAC systems. Throughout the demolition phase, the company recycled 570 tons of construction materials and donated 40,000 square feet of furniture to charity.

Q. How are you addressing waste reduction?

A. Pitney Bowes established an Asset Return Program more than fifty years ago, which encourages the return of U.S. products to repair, refurbish and remanufacture parts for re-use. This program is an integral part of our participation in the U.S. EPA's WasteWise Recycling program.

In 2007, we were inducted into the WasteWise Hall of Fame for its waste reduction and recycling initiatives. The company has participated in the U.S. EPA WasteWise program since 1996. The reduction in energy and resources associated with the company's participation translates to 4,567 tons of Green House Gas emissions avoided from the earth's atmosphere.

As a WasteWise partner, Pitney Bowes consistently reused or recycled the following materials: Tyvek envelopes, white paper, toner cartridges, plastics and other office materials. In 2006, we reused and recycled 5,700 tons of materials and demonstrated a 75% rate of recycling in select Connecticut office locations. In shipping remanufactured products, Pitney we reuse up to 60% of the packaging from materials returned to the company.

Q. How are you addressing pollution prevention?

A. Pitney Bowes' Design for Environmental Quality (DfEQ) program, established in 1991, has removed ozone depleting substances from both the manufacturing process and the company's product line. The company's DfEQ program also helps us meet the requirements of the European Union's Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS), which requires that electronic products be free of certain heavy metals. Our product designers and engineers also use design guidelines that help create products that meet necessary environmental regulations and requirements.

Q. How are you addressing supply chain management/supplier engagement?

A. We have developed a Supplier Code of Conduct to ensure that suppliers conform to the highest standards of product quality and business integrity in the production of goods and services for us. Our suppliers must meet specific requirements pertaining to environmental, labor, human rights, ethics, and occupational health and safety issues. We work with our suppliers to minimize the social and environmental impact of our total business activities, from the design of its products to its operational practices.

The environmental section of our Supplier Code of Conduct indicates that suppliers must comply with all applicable environmental laws, regulations and sound industry practices, such as requirements regarding chemical and waste management and disposal, recycling, industrial wastewater treatment and discharge, air emission controls, environmental permits and environmental reporting.

We prefer to work with companies that have an environmental management system and require suppliers to provide written policies, processes and requirements to support this system.

Q. Have you changed/modified your products/developed new products as a result of your initiatives?

A. We have practiced environmental responsibility since the company's founding in 1920. The company's business model is to optimize the transfer of information through the mailstream, minimizing extraneous waste and thus reducing environmental impact. In today's marketplace, it is necessary to reposition products and services to highlight environmental attributes, but not necessary to re-invent core businesses. For example, our location intelligence and geospatial technologies help customers pinpoint the most appropriate population to receive a particular mailpiece, reducing the amount of unwanted mail.

We also uses Life Cycle Analysis processes and assessments to better understand the environmental impact of its operations, products and customer applications and needs. These assessments help us and our customers develop improvement opportunities for the reduction of their carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions.

Q. Do you measure your "carbon footprint"?

A. We calculated the carbon footprint of our operations and vehicles in 2007 using the World Resource Institute Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard. The WRI standard encompasses all direct and indirect emissions from company-owned locations and fleets of leased or owned vehicles.

We are currently expanding the scope of our carbon reporting to capture our products and service that impact and reduce the company's carbon footprint and those of customers and the mailing industry. With this data, we will enhance its sustainability reports and develop a new set of environmental metrics and goals.

Q. Out of all these, which is your company's priority? Why?

A. In today's current marketplace, addressing the impact of climate change is a top priority for almost every industry. We have taken a leadership role in driving the mailing industry to act in a more environmentally responsible manner. We are establishing business relationships, conducting research and sharing best practices to further develop environmental stewardship activities within its industry. In addition, we have assessed its carbon footprint and are assisting its customers quantify and mitigate their environmental impact.

Business Value

Q. How do you see sustainability fitting into core business strategy?

A. Sustainability is an integral part of our business. Pitney Bowes business units are measured across all three tenets of the triple bottom line -- economic, social and environmental -- to ensure the utmost of quality in each of these three areas. We continuously expand our sustainable efforts to reduce our environmental impact, meet the needs of the communities in which we operate and remain a transparent leader in promoting environmental practices within the mailing industry.

Q. And how are you publicizing your efforts to reach out to value chain partners and consumers?

A. We are currently building an inventory of all of our environmental stewardship activities to establish a roadmap for additional internal environmental achievements. Before launching a major environmental marketing campaign, the company would prefer to establish the facts about its current environmental strategy.

Our existing staff is collaborating across business units on our "green" initiatives with strong corporate sponsorship. We are inculcating our environmental focus in every business unit. It's a part of the culture. The business units are driving initiatives borne of client demand and they are being met with corporate endorsement and thought leadership.

For more features like this, see Green Spot: Best Practices in Sustainable Manufacturing.

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