Aflac, the company famous for the quacking duck commercials, has not only been busy bringing its customers quality insurance. Pardon the pun, but Aflac has been busy getting its environmental ducks in a row, too.
According to Aflac’s 2009 Corporate Citizen’s Report (opens as PDF), the company recognizes the obligation it has to the environment and the global community. Aflac is “dedicated to the health and well-being of the people we serve and also to the health and well-being of the environment.” The company strives “to balance effective and efficient management of our operations with responsible environmental stewardship.”
How does an insurance company become eco-friendly and balance its operations with what is best for the environment? It happens behind the scenes with the everyday actions that any company can take. Aflac makes environmental responsibility a priority in its day-to-day operations in many small ways that add up to a large eco-friendly impact.
The recycling of common office products is made easy for Aflac employees. Throughout the company’s offices are paper, cardboard and aluminum recycling stations. Used printer cartridges don’t end up in the trash or in recycling bins. They are sent out to be refilled and reused over and over. When the company upgrades its computer hardware, it appropriately disposes of the old hardware.
Recycling and reusing are great measures, but Aflac goes a step further with its Paperless Initiative so there is less paper used throughout its operations. Smart App Next Generation is an online system for enrolling new policyholders. Ninety-two percent of Aflac’s new policyholders are enrolled through this system. Not only does this help the environment by producing less paperwork, but it improves Aflac’s customer service also.
Saving energy is another way that Aflac is environmentally responsible. It has installed 25,000 Energy Star rated low-mercury fluorescent lights in its buildings. There is also an automated “adaptive start” system that regulates the temperature in the buildings during certain times of the day. This system has significantly reduced Aflac’s energy use.
One of Aflac’s buildings in particular, the Paul S. Amos building in Columbus, Ga., received the ENERGY STAR label in April 2009. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awards this label to buildings where the energy performance rate is in the top 25 percent of facilities nationwide. This Aflac facility uses less energy and creates fewer greenhouse gas emissions than many comparable buildings.
Other measures Aflac uses to be environmentally friendly in its offices and facilities are Green Guard certified systems furniture, task chairs and flooring made from recycled materials. The company also uses green certified janitorial service providers.
In 2008 Aflac joined the Clean Air Campaign to help reduce traffic and improve air quality. Through a partnership with the campaign, Aflac promoted clean commuting for its employees. The average commute of Aflac’s Columbus, Ga. employees is 37 miles roundtrip. Through the Clean Air Campaign partnership, 75 of those commuters connected with carpooling partners and kept 11,000 pounds of pollution out of the air each month. In addition to the carpooling initiative, Aflac encouraged some employees to telecommute, keeping them and their cars off the road altogether.
In addition to its environmental efforts, Aflac participates in many philanthropic efforts as well. The company encourages employee volunteering by offering rewards to employees for donating time to the charities of their choice.
The company itself supports many charitable causes including The American Cancer Society, Columbus State University, Habitat for Humanity, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Christmas is for Kids, United Way and Boys and Girls Clubs.
Through Aflac’s environmental efforts and its philanthropic efforts, the company is helping to create a sustainable global community.