Reducing environmental footprint is no walk in the park as a global spirits company with its feet everywhere. Each workspace faces different challenges, and those who work there day to day can help overcome them. Luckily, it wasn’t difficult to inspire the forward-thinking, curious people to participate in project Green Office.
Initiated by the parent company, Pernod Ricard, project Green Office hands the reins to individuals in each of the spaces to help achieve better sustainability. We chatted with Marie Wikander, Director of HR & Facility at the Stockholm offices, and Conny Johansson who runs the restaurant, about their experiences rolling out the program.
Marie was put in charge of setting up project Green Office in October 2017. She teamed up with 11 fellow committed employees to develop an action plan, starting by identifying the problems.
“We’re deeply aware that the single most urgent challenge is climate change,” says Marie. “Our ambition is to radically reduce our emissions and we believe that one way to do that is by raising awareness among our employees. By empowering them with knowledge and tools, we hope to recruit them to the cause and inspire changed behaviors in and out of the office.”
And we have already seen great success. Electric car parking lots have been doubled, and there are now secure spaces to park bicycles. The waste sorting room has been expanded, and the bottled water has been replaced with water pots at all offices.
The company restaurant faces separate challenges, but they too are on top of it.
“Around two years ago, we began serving smaller portions of meat and introducing more vegetarian food on the menu,” says Conny. “Our very own Veggie Wednesday has been a surprisingly big success, with a lot of positive reactions.”
“It’s certainly different to cooking with meat, dairy and fish,” he explains, adding that creating a vegetarian menu with nutritional value was a new task for his team. “It’s been challenging but fun and we’ve all learned a lot.”
Conny and his team also got rid of plastic water bottles, and now serve sparkling water in recycled Absolut bottles. They also offer leftover food to employees at a reduced cost to help avoid waste.
Conny agrees that it starts with the people that walk through the doors. “I think we need to work more on educating and informing our guests. If they know how much impact our actions are having – for example, choosing vegetarian food instead of meat or not throwing away food – I think we can improve our results even more.”
Next steps? First of all, tackling the issue of emissions from company travel, since meetings and networking are key to our day to day operations.
“We travel mostly by air. We need to change this behavior if we want to reduce our carbon footprint to a sustainable level. We also need to reduce car commuting and encourage and enable other ways to get to work,” says Marie. “It takes a lot for people to change behavior around travelling and commuting.”
Second? Training and education for even better personal buy-in for the cause. “We don’t want anyone to feel pushed or forced into changes,” she says. “Rather, we want to improve engagement and rouse inspiration. Most people are now truly aware of the effects of climate change, and I think that makes it easier to reach and inspire them to act and change their behavior.”
And onwards we go!