October 22, 2007

Desjardins teams with Bell to recycle mobile phones, joins Equiterre campaign

Desjardins Group has formed a partnership with Bell Canada to provide mobile phone users a fast, secure way of disposing of their used devices. During a one-year pilot, Desjardins caisses, business centres and other Desjardins entities will set up recovery bins in more than 480 locations in Quebec and Ontario for their members, clients, elected officers, employees and the general public. Phones taken back will be refurbished to be used again or will be disassembled by a specialized company that has been selected by Bell to recycle the components.

For Bell, the partnership marks an unprecedented extension of its existing mobile phone take-back program. The company donates any funds recovered through this recycling program to World Wildlife Fund-Canada to finance projects focused on fighting climate change.

"The success of this initiative relies on the commitment of all consumers to dispose of their mobiles phones in a responsible way," said Pauline D'Amboise who, as General Secretary for Desjardins Group, is in charge of applying the company's sustainable development policy. "Desjardins and Bell are pleased to make things easier for them and proud to take action to change the world one step at a time."

"The partnership with Desjardins increases the scope of our actions and strengthens our existing take-back program," said Marc Duchesne, Bell's Director, Corporate Responsibility and Environment. "The more we expand the number of collection points of used mobile phones, the more consumers are able to divert e-waste from landfill sites."

More information about returning mobile phones is available on the Web sites of both Desjardins (www.desjardins.com/mobiletakeback) and Bell Canada (www.bell.ca/takeback).

Desjardins has also signed on to the "Change the world, one step at a time" campaign being undertaken by Equiterre to foster a fairer, more ecologically balanced world. Its participation in the Companies and Organizations arm of Equiterre's campaign will make the Montreal-based financial services company the first organization to develop 12 corporate actions that will have concrete effects on the three areas of sustainable development throughout Quebec and Ontario.

Beginning at the FÈdÈration des caisses Desjardins du QuÈbec, and continuing in the caisse/branch network and its other components, Desjardins is implementing concrete measures to, among other things, minimize business trips and fuel consumption; encourage responsible purchasing and local agriculture; promote fair trade coffee consumption; improve its buildings and equipment to make them more environmentally responsible; redistribute surplus food; and encourage social commitment from its employees.

"Our support for the Change the world, one step at a time awareness campaign fits perfectly into our sustainable development policy," said Pauline D'Amboise, general secretary of Desjardins Group. "This initiative, like all the others begun over the past few years, such as the Paper Challenge, the Eco-friendly Statement Challenge, or even the organization of eco-responsible events, is proof of our willingness to rethink our management practices to contribute to social and environmental improvement," she added.

Updates on Desjardins' progress in fulfilling its commitments will be posted on its Web site, www.desjardins.com/sustainabledevelopment.

Equiterre, which translates as "an equitable earth," began its "Change the world, one step at a time" campaign in 2004. Since then, thousands of citizens have answered Equiterre's call and committed themselves to changing some of their ways and choosing up to 12 different steps through which they can contribute to a fairer world and a better environment. These include measures such as reducing their energy consumption, finding alternative means of transportation, buying local and fair trade products, and becoming involved in their community. Now, Equiterre is broadening the campaign's scope by encouraging corporate citizens to make public commitments that will reduce negative environmental impacts and promote fair trade. More information on the campaign is available on Equiterre's Web site, www.equiterre.org.

Sidney Ribaux, Equiterre's co-founder and general co-ordinator, noted that Desjardins has some 5.8 million members. "When the heads of a large financial institution commit themselves to more responsible consumption, we are witnessing a major collective change," he commented.

Equiterre is dedicated to building a citizens' movement by promoting individual and collective choices that are both environmentally and socially responsible. Through its four programs--ecological agriculture, fair trade, sustainable transportation and energy efficiency--the organization has developed projects that encourage both individuals and organizations to take concrete actions that bring about positive change. Equiterre's projects are backed by solid expertise, built on the latest developments in the related fields.

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