With full-year 2019 data in hand, Covanta (NYSE: CVA) recently provided an in-depth progress update on what it calls its "ambitious" Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) improvement goals.
The New Jersey-based sustainable waste and energy solutions company instituted its first sustainability report ten years ago, the fourth iteration of which was released for the 2020 year.
Derek Veenhof, Covanta's chief operating officer, said in a statement that, "as a society, we are facing some of the greatest environmental challenges in our history, including global climate change and record demand on our natural resources."
The development and implementation of sustainable waste and materials management are critical to overcoming these challenges, he added. Finally, Covanta is "working toward solving the complexities that waste poses for the communities and businesses we serve.”
Among the highlights, Covanta reported that it diverted 21.6 million tons of waste from landfills, up from 20.6 million tons in 2019. Greenhouse emissions were reduced by 18.8 million metric tons relative to landfilling, up from 18.5 million metric tons in 2019.
More than 1 million tons of industrial wastewater and other resources was recycled, "enough to produce 3 billion soda cans and fill 136 Olympic sized swimming pools," according to the company. This is up from 933,000 tons in 2019.
Strategic growth plans in the U.K. were mentioned, namely the four new waste-to-energy projects under construction. Covanta stated that it will "help enable national self-sufficiency in managing waste and compliance with landfill diversion targets, in addition to creating a low-carbon and resource-efficient economy."
"Despite the extraordinary year we have all experienced, Covanta’s commitment to sustainability has not wavered,” said Paul Gilman, Ph.D., Covanta’s chief sustainability officer, in a statement.
Once again looking back to its first sustainability report a decade ago, the company presented examples of its focus on "building a respectful and equitable workplace environment." It first set corporate diversity and inclusion goals in 2015. Since then, it has launched a number of worker-led groups such as RISE, Early Career Connections, Black Professionals, Sustainability and LatinX. The mission of the groups is to "foster a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace aligned with the organization."
Covanta also boosted external advocacy and research for diversity, equity and inclusion through a one-year fellowship for a senior leader. The CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion Racial Equity Fellowship provides training in the areas of "identifying, developing and promoting scalable and sustainable policies and corporate best practices to address systemic racism and social injustice, and to improve societal wellbeing."
“As demonstrated from the year’s achievements, our team has pulled ahead to advance the company’s mission even under the most challenging of circumstances," Gilman said. "There is still much more to be done, but our successes in 2020 underscore our team’s dedication to protecting tomorrow, whether that is through addressing climate change or being a good neighbor. These efforts are integral in our progress to make meaningful contributions to a more sustainable society.”