GreenBiz: How do you go about greening the supply chain?
Gowen: This is where my job fuses together so well. When you look at life cycle management, we go all the way back to where the set top boxes are sourced. In 2011 all the boxes we got were EnergyStar certified. Then we look at the more tactical -- how did you get it from China to the U.S.? On a plane or a ship? With better planning, you can get it on a ship, which reduces the footprint. Once it gets here, how did we get it from the shipyard to our warehouse -- on a truck or intermodal? Intermodal is more sustainable. Once we got it here, what was the next step? This is part of the life cycle. When we do have boxes that reach maturity and the end of their life cycle, what do we do with them?
We will probably move more than 5 million of them this year alone, so I gave you that example.
GreenBiz: When it comes to your suppliers, how does Verizon put the squeeze on suppliers? Do you enforce compliance the way Wal-Mart does?
Gowen: I'd be remiss if I didn't say we benchmarked and Wal-Mart was one of our benchmarks. We had suppliers fill out an online questionnaire to see what they do that's sustainable and what Verizon asks them to do. The scores were all over the place, to be perfectly honest. Some were very immature on the sustainability scale. We worked with them to see how they could be more sustainable. We have a supplier summit with the top 100 suppliers and our goal is not to hammer or squeeze but to work with them. There's no one silver bullet, but innovation is key for our business and there are many shades of green. You are not going to turn a battleship on a dime -- it takes time.
GreenBiz: How do you see thing changing going forward?
Gowen: When I think about the last two-and-a-half years of our journey, I'm amazed. Verizon, the U.S. and the world are in an immature state compared to where we'll be in the long term. If you read the global sustainability report, we're really two percent of the problem but we're 98 percent of the solution. Verizon's enabling technologies are the backbone of what sustainability can be in the future.
Photo courtesy of Verizon.