Major banks highlight environmental activities in latest CSR reports
Innovative projects within their own operations, plus major funding support for community and educational environmental programs, combine to make two of Canada's major banking institutions among the leaders in corporate social responsibility (CSR). Both the TD Bank Financial Group (TD) and the Bank of Montreal Financial Group (BMO) have recently released their annual CSR reports for 2005.
TD's fourth report, "Involved for Generations," cites a number of important environmental achievements. The firm was included on the Jantzi Social Index, a stock index of 60 Canadian companies that pass a set of social and environmental screens. TD's Friends of the Environment Foundation funded more than 900 grassroots environmental projects in 2005, while last year's TD Canada Trust Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup drew more than 36,000 Canadians as participants nationwide, making it the largest-ever co-ordinated cleanup of aquatic environments.
In 2005 as well, a board of directors risk committee approved a new formal environmental policy governing all of TD's operations. An executive steering committee was subsequently set up, representing senior management from several business units, to develop an environmental management system (EMS). It will expand on TD's environmental policy by defining environmental standards, procedures, responsibilities and compliance mechanisms.
TD's largest environmental impact is associated with its energy consumption as a major owner and tenant of facilities, notes the report. Accordingly, it has implemented a diverse range of energy efficiency projects both at its branches and in the 120 properties it owns and manages. Three towers of the TD Centre complex in Toronto use the Enwave deep water cooling system, for example. This has removed five megawatts (MW) of electricity demand from Ontario's power grid during peak summer months and two to three MW during the rest of the year. Two more towers are slated to become part of the system this spring.
TD also has several waste reduction, recycling and re-use programs in place. During 2005, notes the report, more than 18,000 printer cartridges were returned to suppliers, representing over 80.5% of the total units purchase company-wide; last year's return rate was up 10% over that of 2004 and far surpasses the typical 30% return rate for cartridges across North America.'
The firm also donates refurbished office equipment for use in schools and other community facilities; more than 1,300 computers, monitors and printers were donated last year. In 2005 as well, TD joined Bell Mobility's cellular phone recycling program, which distributes donated refurbished phones to women's shelters across Canada.
TD operations contributed significantly to paper recycling programs last year. For example, the firm's paper shredding contractor recycles approximately 95% of the paper received from TD, for a total of more than 3,000 tons during the first ten months of 2005; this saved the equivalent of over 77,000 trees, notes the report. Paperless banking methods are encouraged, with paperless recordkeeping having increased by 54% over 2004 and cheque volumes declining by 9.5%.
Globally, TD is a long-time signatory of the United Nations Statement by Financial Institutions on the Environment and Sustainable Development and last year renewed its membership commitment to the UN Environment Program Finance Initiative (UNEP FI). The firm also contributed to the UNEP FI study, Global Climate Change: Risk to Bank Loans.
In addition, TD participated in the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), a CSR initiative in which global institutional investors address issues such as the business implications of climate change. The firm contributed data to the annual CDP report on environmental emission levels of international corporations.
Finally, the company provided support for environmental education, pledging $500,000 to create the TD Green Bursary at the University of Ottawa; this will provide assistance to students in environmental studies.
The report is available in print at TD Canada Trust branch, or may be downloaded from TD's Web site, www.td.com/crr.
Similar activities and initiatives have been undertaken by BMO Financial Group and are detailed in "Every Day," its 2005 CSR report. The report also includes BMO's 2005 Public Accountability Statement.
"This report sums up our collective efforts to do what's right for all of our stakeholders each and every day," said BMO president and CEO Tony Comper, who pointed out that "BMO was named Canada's Best Corporate Citizen for 2005 by Corporate Knights."
BMO became one of the first Canadian companies to be listed on the new Dow Jones Sustainability Index-North America and became a signatory to the CDP. Last September, the company adopted the Equator Principles, a voluntary set of environmental and social guidelines adopted by leading banks for project financing.
In doing so, BMO has incorporated the Equator Principles requirements into its internal guidelines for project financing. This includes training lending officers to recognize environmental risks as part of their credit risk skills development, and maintaining detailed risk management procedures to guide lending personnel in assessing and approving credit applications, notes the report.
BMO is also involved in 3R programs for technology equipment and in 2005 donated or disposed of, using environmentally sound methods, more than 4,900 desktop computers, monitors, electronic notebooks and other technology equipment.
Paper reduction is an important issue as well, and last year the company entered into a partnership with Iron Mountain, a records and information management service, to introduce secure shredding containers at all BMO branches and facilities in Canada. In addition to providing secure shredding of confidential documents, the service keeps a detailed tally of all paper captured, which will help BMO measure more accurately its paper consumption and recycling efforts.
The company last year completed an environmental audit of nine major office towers and specialty buildings it owns throughout Canada, and partnered with various levels of government in energy conservation programs. Employees have been encouraged to join the One-Tonne Challenge, and BMO has responded to energy shortages by voluntarily reducing lighting levels and air conditioning demands in order to reduce consumption.
The company's purchasing policies explicitly give preference to suppliers with sound environmental policies and practices in place, and information in this area is requested from prospective suppliers as part of the bidding process.
BMO also supports environmental education, having pledged $100,000 over three years to promote environmental eductiona in schools across Canada.
Print copies of BMO's 2005 CSR report and Public Accountability statement are on chlorine-free, acid-free, Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper. The report and statement may also be viewed on the BMO Web site, www.bmo.com/community.