Aflac is committed to increasing the positive impact of our SmartGreen® philosophy by continually evaluating and embracing the most environmentally responsible policies, procedures and technologies.
As a leader in the supplemental insurance industry, we are dedicated to the health and well-being of the people where we serve and the environment. From the materials we use in our daily operations to the construction and renovation of our facilities, we carefully consider the impact our actions will have — not only today, but in the years to come.
Although our corporate environmental impact is minimal due to the nature of our business, we’re always looking for innovative ways to reduce that impact. The Aflac Board of Directors Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Committee leads our program, which is called Aflac SmartGreen®. The Aflac SmartGreen® philosophy outlines our corporate commitment to wisely choosing, using and disposing of the resources we use each day. Our SmartGreen® Initiative can be broken down into five key areas:
- Business Operations
- Facilities Management
- Waste Management
- Employee Engagement
- Strategic Sourcing and Procurement
The Aflac Board of Directors issued the following statement about our commitment to environmental health and conservation:
Aflac Environmental Policy
"As a market leader in the voluntary insurance industry, Aflac is committed to making business decisions that balance the needs of our many constituencies, including our policyholders, employees, sales force and shareholders, while recognizing the obligation we have to 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. As such, we strive to balance effective and efficient management of our operations with responsible environmental stewardship. Aflac is committed to the continual improvement of the Environmental Management System, and is also committed to complying with relevant laws and regulations as well as promoting awareness among our employees and interested parties for shared responsibility towards protection of the environment."
Aflac SmartGreen® Goals
We are working hard to implement innovative and responsible practices across our company to reduce our carbon footprint, ensure efficient use of resources and help our employees be good stewards of our natural surroundings. We are also providing tools that enable our policyholders to reduce their impact on the environment. In recognition of our efforts, we have been included on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index North America list as an honoree for the seventh time in 2017. Aflac finished ahead of the Insurance industry average in Code of Conduct, Corporate Governance, Customer Relationship Management, Environmental Reporting, Operational Eco-Friendly, Risk Detection, Corporate Citizenship and Philanthropy, Labor Practice and Human Rights, Occupational Health and Safety, and Talent Acquisition. Aflac also ranked No. 33 out of 500 companies on the 2017 Newsweek Green Rankings.
By the close of 2018, we hope to:
- Reduce out Scope 2 emissions by at least 2 percent.
- Increase the amount of printed materials printed on Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper to 90 percent.
- Maintain Energy Star certification for 85 percent of our eligible corporate property.
- Work toward our goal of reducing electricity consumption by 50 percent of 2007 usage by fiscal year 2025.
How We’re Making an Impact
As a large, publicly traded company, Aflac recognizes its corporate social responsibility for leading the way in eco-friendly business initiatives. To reinforce the Aflac SmartGreen® philosophy and our goal of environmental stewardship, Aflac has implemented policies and procedures that guide our actions with respect to buildings, procurement, purchasing and waste prevention.
By Environmentally Friendly Facilities Management
Aflac has earned ENERGY STAR recognition for 80 percent of all eligible corporate property, including the building that houses our data center. Our Energy Star score has increased 56 percent since 2007, and our facilities perform in top 25 percent of all similar facilities nationwide. Additionally, we followed the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED for Commercial Interiors guidance in the renovation of a five-story main campus building and received gold level certification upon completion. Ernst & Young examined Aflac’s Scope I and II emissions reports and certified them with a letter of attestation.
By Increasing Our Energy Savings
Aflac became the first insurance company in the United States to be ISO 50001 Energy Management System registered, which represents the latest best-practice in energy management.
Through sustained and deliberate energy-saving measures, we’ve reduced electricity consumption by 46 percent per square foot since 2007. As buildings are remodeled, we implement energy-saving ideas such as task light motion sensors in cubicles and motion sensors in restrooms, copy rooms and parking garages. Our heating and cooling systems are powered down during off hours. In 2012, we implemented software to power down or place in low systems nearly 5,000 PCs at all corporate offices at night to further reduce energy. The software analyzes and reports on power usage and energy consumption across the enterprise and at a granular, device-by-device level. In addition, the IT department raised the temperature in the data center, reducing energy usage and costs associated with air cooling.
In 2017, we installed an array of solar panels on top of one of our buildings in Columbus, Georgia, and began using solar energy to supplement our electric power, providing 13 percent of that building energy needs. We have reduced electricity consumption at Aflac for 10 consecutive years, and we are confident that installation of the solar array will help us extend our record to 11 years.
By Reducing Our Waste Stream
The most significant environmental impact resulting from the SmartGreen® philosophy stems from Aflac’s increased reliance on electronic instead of paper-based transactions. Using our patented laptop-based SmartApp® Next Generation application system and other paperless technologies, more than 90 percent of our applications are submitted electronically, and more than 80 percent of our new accounts receive their invoices online. The switch from paper to electronic transactions also has provided significant benefits in terms of the quality and efficiency of the services we provide to our accounts and policyholders, allowing us to provide fast claims payments – often in as little as one day. In addition, we’re also saving on the costs of photocopy toner, printer ink and postage — not to mention paying less for storage space and filing equipment.
Aflac uses an ORCA food digester that turns food waste from the company’s business cafeteria into graywater, which can be disposed of through the city sewage system. The food digester is expected to divert up to 40,000 pounds of food waste from the landfill each year.
By Reducing Our Consumption
Recycling is a very important pollution-prevention activity that reduces our burden on the environment. Our recycling efforts annually divert approximately 1.5 million pounds of waste from the landfill. In addition to paper, Aflac employees are encouraged to collect the following materials for recycling:
- Fluorescent lamps
- Toner and ink jet cartridges
- Microfilm and recording tape
- Ceiling tiles
- Computer equipment
- Plastic bottles
Additionally, our Aflac SmartGreen® approach to purchasing means that, whenever possible, Aflac gives preference to products and materials that are:
- Recycled, salvaged and/or rapidly renewable.
- Low in Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Content.
- Energy efficient.
Employees who make purchasing decisions are encouraged to consider the full life-cycle costs of products and services.
By Getting Our Employees Involved
All Aflac employees are encouraged to incorporate our Aflac SmartGreen® practices into their daily activities. We have partnered with the Clean Air Campaign to encourage “clean commuting.” Our clean commuters receive incentives to share rides or reduce trips to office buildings. We have designated special parking spaces on each campus as an incentive for our carpoolers, motorcycle riders, and hybrid or electric car owners.
Aflac has participated in the World Wildlife Fund’s annual Earth Hour for the last 11 years, joining others around the world for a one-hour power down.
Throughout the year, our employees are engaged in company green-focused events, such as:
- Arbor Day Tree Giveaway
- Earth Day
- E-waste Recycling Drive
- Bike to Work Day
- Free Cycle Exchange
- Teachers Free Cycle Event
- Earth Day Booth at Columbus State University
- EarthShare of Georgia fundraiser for Oxbow Meadows
And much more!
Additionally, more than 500 employees currently participate in our telework program. In 2017, an average of 8,000 meetings per month took place via Web-enabled teleconference. Teleconferencing and video conferencing not only helps the company save travel expenses, but also increases the productivity of teams spread out across the U.S. and Japan by facilitating frequent communication.
Aflac SmartGreen® Highlights
- Aflac is the first insurance company in the United States to be ISO 50001 Energy Management System registered which represents the latest best-practice thinking in energy management.
- Our recycling efforts annually divert more than 1.5 million pounds of waste from the landfill.
- Aflac uses an ORCA food digester that turns food waste from the company’s business cafeteria into graywater, which can be disposed of through the city sewage system. The food digester is expected to divert up to 40,000 pounds of food waste from the landfill each year.
- The majority of Aflac’s marketing materials and other mass-produced literature is printed on Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified paper.
- Since 2007 Aflac has increased its square footage by more than 10 percent, yet we’ve realized a consistent reduction in Scope I and II carbon emissions each year through 2017.