2008 Recognized Leader: REI
On October 28th, 2008, the EnviroStars program honored Recreational Equipment, Inc (REI) – the gear and apparel retailer headquartered in Kent, WA - with the EnviroStars Recognized Leader distinction for its environmental leadership. REI has actively demonstrated the philosophy that good business goes hand-in-hand with environmental responsibility, and that minimizing a corporation's ecological footprint is an essential element of today's successful business model. By awarding REI with this distinction, the EnviroStars program aims to illustrate to businesses within the region that effective business leaders are embracing the incorporation of sustainable practices and realizing positive impacts to their bottom lines.
REI was selected for this award based on the following criteria:
- Reducing its own organization's environmental footprint and providing demonstrated results;
- Spreading an ethic of environmentally responsible practices and support for environmentally responsible businesses;
- Creating a balanced vision of people, planet and profit;
- Incorporating sustainability as a business strategy for on-going success;
- Influencing the reduction of hazardous waste and materials;
- Broad reach of influence, high profile and physical presence in the Puget Sound area.
REI was founded in 1938 by 23 Seattle Mountaineers and today is the nation's largest consumer cooperative with more than 3.5 million active members. The co-op continues to be a trusted retailer of outdoor gear and apparel, and is committed to inspiring, educating and outfitting outdoor enthusiasts for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship. REI returns the majority of its profits to members through annual member refunds based on their purchases. Each year, REI donates millions of dollars to nonprofits in support of conservation efforts and outdoor recreation nationwide, and sends scores of volunteers to build trails, clean up beaches, and teach outdoor ethics to kids. REI strives to reduce its environmental footprint through responsible business practices and is focused on five key areas: greenhouse gasses and energy use, building green, paper sourcing, recycling and waste reduction, and responsible product design.
In reducing its ecological footprint, REI:
- Reduced its total climate impact in 2007 by 24 percent from 2006 levels by purchasing certified offsets.
- Partnered with the Bonneville Environmental Foundation to create the largest carbon neutral travel program in the country.
- Held its greenhouse gas emissions rate of growth to 8.1 percent through operational efficiencies and renewable energy purchases in 2007.
- Ensured that paper fiber purchases come from acceptable sources and endorsed the Forest Stewardship Council as the standard for responsible forestry practices.
REI has set a goal to become a zero-waste and climate neutral company by the year 2020. The co-op has implemented a number of creative initiatives to meet their waste reduction and repurposing goals, including:
- Recycled 78.8 percent of operational waste by weight.
- Worked with stakeholder groups to create a paper sourcing and purchasing policy and an action plan for the organization.
- Launched commercial-scale composting for food waste in the REI headquarters cafe in Kent, WA.
- Put in place recycling programs at stores and facilities to divert hazardous materials such as fluorescent light tubes and batteries out of waste and into recycling.
- Partnered with Alchemy Bags to recycle used inner tubes from REI bike shops. Alchemy uses the inner tubes to create highly stylized messenger bags, which are sold in REI stores.
More than 100 REI-brand products contain a high percentage of recycled, rapidly renewable and/or organic fibers; as designated by its ecoSensitive logo. The company also launched an educational website, www.rei.com/ecosenstitive. REI serves on the Outdoor Industry Association's Eco Working Group, which is made up of 100 outdoor brand companies working together to develop a strong framework for producing environmentally sound gear and apparel.
REI has replaced chemical solvents used to clean bicycle parts in many stores with machines that use water and ultrasonic waves. This technology reduces employees' exposure to hazardous materials and will eliminate approximately 4,000 gallons of hazardous waste annually from REI's bike shops.
REI is focused on creating solutions to reduce the number of employees arriving at work in single occupancy vehicles. Promoting carpools, van shares, public transportation, bicycling and walking are among REI's significant efforts to reduce GHG emissions. REI is consistently recognized for its excellence in spreading an ethic of environmentally responsible practices and support for environmentally responsible businesses. Efforts include:
- Distributing $3.7 million dollars in 2008 to local and national nonprofit organizations in support of conservation and recreation, with an emphasis on engaging youth.
- Committing more than 2.1 million hours of volunteer service support in 2007 to non-profits. Last year, REI employees hosted 688 REI-sponsored service projects and inspired nearly 33,000 volunteers in communities across the country.
- Teaching 142,435 children how to recreate responsibly in shared outdoor spaces through the Promoting Environmental Awareness in Kids (PEAK) program presented by REI employees and Leave No Trace volunteers.
- Received the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) SilverÂ® Certification for New Construction for the co-op's 525,000-square-foot distribution center in Bedford, PA.
- Under its green building prototype initiative, opened an award-winning store in Boulder, CO and a second store in Round Rock, TX. Both stores are part of the LEED for Retail pilot.
- Committing to installing solar panels on 11 of its stores in 2008, which will generate an estimated 1.1 million kilowatt hours of electricity - enough to power 117 homes for one year and save approximately 880 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
- Purchasing green power for 20 percent of the co-op's overall energy use.
- Conducted third-party factory audits for 95 percent of the dollar value of REI-brand products. This step helps ensure that factories manufacturing REI products provide appropriate working environments.
2006 Recognized Leader: IKEA
On October 24th, 2006, the EnviroStars program honored IKEA – the local Renton store and the global corporation headquartered in Sweden – with the EnviroStars Recognized Leader distinction for its environmental leadership. IKEA has actively demonstrated the philosophy that good business goes hand-in-hand with environmental responsibility, and that limiting a corporation's ecological footprint is an essential element of today's successful business model. By awarding IKEA with this distinction, the EnviroStars program aims to illustrate to businesses within the region that effective business leaders are embracing the incorporation of sustainable practices and realizing positive impacts to their bottom lines.
IKEA is a privately owned company, operates over 200 stores worldwide, employs 80,000 staff, and sells 10,000 products from 1,600 suppliers in 55 countries. IKEA is committed to conducting business in an environmentally responsible manner, and utilizes "The Natural Step" process to guide its efforts. The Seattle-area store (located in Renton, Wash.) has achieved great success with this model, leading sales revenues and finishing in the top 5 nationwide for environment and recovery.
Reducing its ecological footprint, IKEA:
- Mandates its suppliers adhere to the same strict social and environmental standards through its "IWAY" protocols and audits
- Closely monitors hazardous substances used to create the IKEA product line, eliminating a number of high priority chemicals entirely
- Designs products to minimize waste, energy use, packaging and product transportation
- Repurposes waste materials to make usable products
- Produces catalogues from chlorine-free pulp paper
- Offers customers free recycling for fluorescent lamps, batteries and holiday trees
- Implements in-store environmental education activities and encourages customers and coworkers to participate in recycling, Earth Day and other environmental programs
IKEA seeks to limit – and eventually eliminate – hazardous chemicals used to create the IKEA product line. For example:
- Chlorofluorocarbons/CFCs (banned)
- Polyvinylchloride/PVCs (nearly eliminated)
- Azo-dyes (banned)
- Flame retardants/PBDEs (banned)
- Formaldehyde (closely regulated)
- Solvent-borne lacquers (reduced 80% in children's products)
IKEA has implemented a number of creative initiatives to meet their waste reduction and repurposing goals:
- OGLA chairs are produced from recycled materials, including waste material from the production of yogurt cups
- A wood fiber named lyocell is used as a filling material for furniture instead of foam rubber
- Jeksen rag rugs are woven from clothing remnants; only 10 percent is new material
- It would take 6.5 trucks to transport the same number of assembled dining chairs as held on one truck when they are flat-packed
In 1996, the local IKEA store launched "IKEA GREEN," a recycling effort seeking to reduce the amount of materials hauled to the landfill by 95 percent. Through this program and other initiatives, IKEA is able to recycle 90 percent of its waste. In the past year alone, IKEA in Renton has removed 600 tons of wood, plastic, cardboard, paper, metal and aluminum from the landfill. Worldwide, IKEA is consistently recognized for its excellence in spreading an ethic of environmentally responsible business practices and support for environmentally responsible businesses. Efforts include:
- Hiring recycling coordinators, recovery and other environmentally-driven staff members
- Incorporating environmental messages into coworker training programs, supply chain requirements and consumer marketing materials
- Presenting at events such as the Washington State Recycling Association and the Home Show
- Participating in global forest initiatives through the Forest Stewardship Council, Global Forest Watch and Sow-a-Seed Foundation
"The IKEA Way of Purchasing Home Furnishing Products," or IWAY, was established in 2000 to ensure that IKEA works only with suppliers that support its business philosophies and values. This set of rules outlines progressive requirements in a variety of areas, including:
- Working conditions, child labor practices and discrimination rules
- Minimum wages, overtime rates and trade union representation rights
- Waste management, chemical management and emissions to air and water
- Adherence to forest preservation rules and timber laws
The Seattle area IKEA is creating a commute reduction program based on the results of a recent survey of all coworkers asking about their transportation choices and incentive preferences.
2005 Recognized Leader: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
EnviroStars has awarded the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle with the EnviroStars-Recognized Leader distinction for its environmental leadership within the community (press release, pdf 174 KB). The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has demonstrated that it embraces a philosophy that good business goes hand-in-hand with environmental responsibility and that limiting a corporation's ecological footprint is an essential element of today's business strategy. With this new category, EnviroStars aims to demonstrate to other businesses within the region that successful business leaders recognize the necessity of incorporating sustainable practices and the impact on their bottom line.
The distinction is focused on how Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center performs in these areas:
- Reducing its own organization's ecological footprint
- Spreading an ethic of environmentally responsible business practices and support for environmentally responsible businesses
- Incorporating sustainability as a business strategy for on-going success/viability
- Encouraging the reduction of hazardous waste/material
- Regional and broader reach and influence; high profile and a physical presence in the Puget Sound area.
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Highlights
The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC) is an independent, nonprofit research institution dedicated to the development and advancement of biomedical research. It has performed exceptionally within its market category and excels at its efforts to protect the local environment and the health of its community. Some highlights include:
Reducing its ecological footprint, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center:
- Builds to achieve LEED certification for its new construction
- Continues to establish energy and water-conserving infrastructure in older facilities
- Promotes a chemical redistribution service that encourages waste minimization
- Increases employee participation in commute reduction programs
- Implements an indoor air quality program
The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center is consistently recognized for its excellence in spreading an ethic of environmentally responsible business practices and support for environmentally responsible businesses. Awards and accolades include:
- Board position on the Medical Industry Roundtable (MIRT) which focuses on sharing waste reduction/new technology information among the industry and government
- 2004 Mayor's Environmental Leadership award
- Businesses for an Environmentally Sustainable Tomorrow (BEST) Energy Conservation Award and Innovation In Conservation Award
As the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center expands and renovates, a priority on â€œgreenâ€ design and construction has allowed the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to conserve 18 million kilowatt hours of electricity, 338,000 therms of gas, and 15 million gallons of water annually. Examples of environmentally-sound building practices by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center include:
- Retrofitting existing infrastructure for energy efficiency
- Emphasizing proper maintenance and operation of equipment
- Designing the new research facility at Lake Union with conservation measures up-front
- Educating faculty, staff and the community on energy conservation
The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center places a high priority on reducing, recycling and properly disposing of hazardous waste/materials. The Hazardous Materials Program offers services to Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, with the following objectives:
- Ease the hazardous materials responsibilities and risks of employees
- Assure environmental protection through proper disposal of waste
- Help reduce waste
The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center offers a chemical redistribution service that proactively works to check with internal labs to determine if specific chemicals can be used by others rather than disposed of.
The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center encourages efficiency of transportation for staff and patients. For example:
- An incentive grant program tripled employee participation in commute reduction programs
- One employee was hired specifically to promote and help establish carpools and vanpools
- Shuttles are provided to staff and patients with service to and from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the University of Washington and Seattle Children's Hospital facilities.
The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center established an indoor air quality program in order to ensure a positive link between indoor environment and occupancy health.
- Occupied laboratories are required to have six complete air changes an hour
- Air changes are done efficiently by having the temperature and air-change rate controls tied to the lighting circuit, thereby only operating air changes in areas that need them.
2004 Recognized Leader: Starbucks Coffee Company
"Starbucks is deeply honored to be recognized as an environmental leader," said Jim Donald, President of Starbucks North America. "Starbucks strives not only to be a great, enduring brand, but to be a company that champions business practices that produce social, environmental and economic benefits globally." Starbucks illustrates a leadership commitment to the environment and community building, balanced with proactive business strategies. That's a good business model that can be an example for other businesses in the region.
High impact areas of business operations on which Starbucks focuses its environmental strategy:
- Sourcing of coffee, tea and paper. Starbucks has partnered with Conservation International in order to encourage the sustainable production of coffee. This year the company established Coffee and Farmer Equity (C.A.F.E.) Practices, a comprehensive set of coffee buying guidelines that promote equitable relationships with farmers and encourages sustainable farming practices that protect the environment. Sustainable production of tea and paper are also areas of focus.
- Transportation. Starbucks has established incentives to encourage its partners (employees) to reduce traffic congestion, air pollution and parking demands.
- Store design and operations. Starbucks has undergone a number of improvements to reduce natural gas, electricity, water consumption, and wastes in its stores. The company is also partnering with the U.S. Green Building Council to establish a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) application guide for retail.
King County Executive Ron Sims presented Starbucks with the EnviroStars Recognized Leader distinction at the Profitable Sustainability conference held at the Seattle Westin Hotel on September 28, 2004 . The award ceremony was part of the Luncheon Plenary - "Business Leadership Roundtable: Is Sustainability Possible in a Profit Driven World?"
"Starbucks commitment has set a tremendous example of how to be both successful and sustainable for other businesses in our community," says Laurel Tomchick, EnviroStars program manager, Local Hazardous Waste Management Program in King County.