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Aflac's Philosophy

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 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:

"As the market leader in the supplemental 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 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 for four consecutive years.

By the close of 2015, we hope to:

  • Maintain Energy Star certification on at least 80 percent of eligible Aflac-owned facilities (as measured by square footage), up from 45 percent when the SmartGreen® initiative began in 2009.
  • Increase the percentage of recycled waste to 75 percent.
  • Annually reduce our Scope 2 emissions by at least 2 percent.
  • Increase the percentage of marketing materials printed on Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper to at least 90 percent.

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 84 percent of all eligible corporate property, including the building that houses our data center. 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

Through sustained and deliberate energy-saving measures, we’ve reduced energy consumption by 38 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.

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. 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.

By Reducing Our Consumption

Recycling is a very important pollution-prevention activity that reduces our burden on the environment. In addition to paper, Aflac employees are encouraged to collect the following materials for recycling:

  • Newspaper
  • Cardboard
  • Fluorescent lamps
  • Toner and ink jet cartridges
  • Microfilm and recording tape
  • Ceiling tiles
  • Computer equipment
  • Pallets
  • Plastic bottles
  • Aluminum
  • Copper
  • Steel
  • Iron
  • Batteries
  • Carpet
  • Styrofoam

Additionally, our Aflac SmartGreen® approach to purchasing means that, whenever possible, Aflac gives preference to products and materials that are:

  • Sustainable.
  • 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.

Additionally, more than 350 employees currently participate in our telework program. In 2013, an average of 2,900 meetings per month took place via Web-enabled teleconference. Teleconferencing 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 became 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.
  • Aflac is rated in the 80th Percentile for the Supply Chain– North America List.
  • Our recycling efforts have increased from 57 percent of all solid waste in 2009 to 70 percent in 2013, annually diverting approximately 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. Our goal is to print 90 percent or more of our materials on FSC-certified paper by the close of 2015.
  • 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 2013.
  • In 2013, we saved more than 19,171,600 sheets of paper and over $2,400,000 by using Electronic Submission Channels, online servicing tools and targeted paper-reduction efforts. Our e-Policy system, which enables policyholders to receive policies electronically, saved over $928,000.