As a company that's all about play, Hasbro has long known the importance of earning the trust of the children and families who choose and enjoy our brands. So, even though Hasbro is launching our first formal CSR Report this year, operating responsibly has been a driving force behind everything we do for many, many years.
And, while this comprehensive report is new, it's actually not our first run at CSR reporting. We reported our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Climate Leaders program from 2002 through the close of the program in 2010. Since then, we've been reporting to the Carbon Disclosure Project (see our disclosure here).
Still, the process of creating our first comprehensive CSR Report has been an eye-opening experience. Just as it is for any global company, pooling the goals, achievements and initiatives from throughout our operations was a challenge, but the outcome is a report that truly shares with the world the progress we've made along our ongoing CSR journey.
We're especially excited to announce one of the next major steps in that journey: our goal of replacing PVC in all new core toy and game packaging with more easily recyclable alternatives – polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and recycled PET (RPET) – beginning in 2013.
And, looking to the future, we hope other companies will follow.
Starting at the Top
Hasbro's focus on more sustainable packaging dates back to 2006. With a green light from the CSR Committee – a group comprised of senior executives and chaired by the CEO – our packaging team started with several changes that have led to significant impacts. For example, moving from double-wall to single-wall cartons used to ship our products to retail outlets eliminated more than 4 million pounds of extra material from entering the waste system in the first year of implementation.
Inspired by those results – and encouraged by senior management to keep innovating for environmental improvement – we also replaced wire ties from our products with more sustainable materials such as paper rattan and bamboo mix. Within a year, we eliminated roughly 34,000 miles of wire ties – enough to wrap around the equator and then some.
The Challenges of a Global Sustainable Packaging Initiative
Our PVC-elimination effort emerged from this same holistic approach – even though it's not a simple adjustment to make. To provide some perspective, we bring more than 2,000 products to market each year, and we used approximately 31 million tons of PVC in our packaging in 2010.
PVC is abundant in the areas where most of our products are manufactured, and the alternatives – over the short term, at least – are scarcer, and therefore initially more expensive. Close collaboration throughout our supply chain helped identify the most cost-effective alternative materials, which turned out to be PET and RPET.
The higher cost of PVC alternatives also means that our business units responsible for designing and marketing our products must identify unique packaging adjustments – including generally reducing the size of the packaging and the amount of plastic used. And they need to do that in ways that not only help offset the higher costs and avoid raising prices for our customers, but also ensure that our packaging maintains its consumer appeal.
That's just part of why issuing a simple mandate to our suppliers to "find a more sustainable alternative to PVC" doesn't suffice. We need them to fully understand our standards, how they're integrated into our quality assurance testing, and what corrective actions we'll take if suppliers don't meet our expectations.
Best Practices for Implementing CSR Initiatives
We're obviously excited about our efforts to replace PVC with more sustainable alternatives. But I believe the lessons we've learned in the process can be applied by companies throughout almost any industry as they innovate their own CSR initiatives.
1. Ensure alignment throughout the organization. For CSR efforts to really take hold, it's important that all business units affected by those initiatives have a chance to collaborate and be part of the solution. While an initial mandate can come from the C-suite, ideally your company will establish a cross-functional team of senior leaders to help drive CSR initiatives and ensure that all functions are aligned on meeting big-picture goals.
2. Support written goals and objectives with formal processes and protocols. Any company can set a goal. But to turn goals and objectives into performance, it's important to make sure they are formally established and communicated throughout the company – and, in many cases, to suppliers as well. At Hasbro, we understand that success comes from creating the processes and protocols to ensure that they're being implemented and that performance is being measured.
3. Make CSR core to the business. At Hasbro, we focus on incorporating CSR into virtually everything we do, from environmental stewardship to product safety to manufacturing ethics. Making this a core part of your company's decision-making raises awareness of CSR goals throughout the company, and ultimately infuses CSR into the business and culture of the company.
For Hasbro, CSR is a journey of innovation and continuous improvement. We've learned a lot along the way and know the road holds more ahead. But we're a much better company just for the travel.