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Sustainability champions

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Sustainable practices have been shown time and again to improve financial performance and relationships with critical stakeholders, and help create significant positive environmental and social impact. Many of the largest Philippine companies have enthusiastically adopted and committed to them, setting a great example in their respective industries. Here are several of them.

A property giant that owns and operates the famous chain of SM shopping malls as well as a number of residential and office buildings, SM Prime Holdings, Inc. has been putting out sustainability reports since 2007, outlining its practices, goals and impact. “As one of the largest property developers in Southeast Asia and with a presence extending across the many regions of the Philippines, SM Prime is aware of the environmental and social impact of its operations. Our long-term success depends on having a positive impact in these areas and our goal is to be a catalyst for development in the communities we serve,” Jeffrey C. Lim, president of SM Prime, said in the company’s 2016 sustainability report.

The company, he noted, had addressed issues that contributed to its environmental footprint, such as those concerning energy efficiency and water consumption. In 2016, for instance, roughly 5,800 megawatts of renewable energy was generated by SM Prime across its installations in the Philippines and China. That amount of energy, Mr. Lim pointed out, could power over 5.8 million homes. Also that year, SM Prime recycled 33% of water it consumed; 4.7 million cubic meters of water, which could fill almost 2,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools, was reused in cooling towers and comfort rooms.

Efficient use of water is where Nestlé Philippines shines. The food and beverage company has equipped all its factories with world-class wastewater treatment facilities. “Manned by highly competent personnel, these treatment plants capture every drop of wastewater discharged from the factories, cleanse the water of impurities, and release it to natural waterways clean enough to sustain marine life,” the company says on its Web site. It adds that the treated water from the factories is tested constantly to meet government standards.

But Nestlé has also explored other ways to optimize water use. For example, it reuses sealing water from vacuum pumps, cooling water from MILO processing, rinsing water and recovered water from reverse osmosis plants. “These initiatives, coupled with simple techniques as the use of sensor-operated faucets that ensure automatic stoppage of water flow, have cut down water consumption throughout Nestlé by about 16% since 1997, or an average of 65,500 cubic meters of water every year,” the company says.

Globe Telecom sees environmental sustainability as its immediate responsibility, in the face of global warming and rising demand for energy, and in response to two of United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals — responsible consumption and production and climate action. In 2016, the communication services provider invested P2.37 million in environmental protection initiatives, including reforestation programs, solid waste management and hazardous waste disposal and treatment. In addition, it donated P1.4 million as initial grant for 13,500 seedlings to the nonprofit Hineleban Foundation, which advocates environmental conservation and livelihood development.

“Having an expansive network also translates to a large business footprint so it is inevitable for us to recognize our responsibility to mitigate effects of climate change,” Ernest L. Cu, president and chief executive officer of Globe Telecom, said in the company’s 2016 annual report. “We continue to invest in a low-carbon future by encouraging more customers to shift to paperless billing to reduce waste, as well as raise public awareness on adopting lifestyles that are in harmony with nature,” he added. As part of that paperless billing initiative, the company introduced Bill via Text through GlobeMYBILL, which allows a customer to receive a text message from it with a link to his or her latest billing statement online.