Comcast recycled 130K pounds of cable from the Philly region last month alone - Generocity Philly

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Jul. 31, 2018 12:42 pm

Comcast recycled 130K pounds of cable from the Philly region last month alone

The Northeast Division's senior director of environmental health and safety and head of sustainability, David Newman, on how the biggest corporation in Philadelphia thinks about sustainability.

A past Comcast Cares Day event focused on greening.

(Courtesy photo)

Full disclosure: Comcast NBCUniversal is a sponsor of Generocity's Tech in the Commons event series.
You may surprised to learn that Comcast NBCUniversal has a senior director of environmental health and safety-slash-head of sustainability for its Northeast Division.

1.) It’s a mouthful, and 2.) why the heck would a Fortune 50 tech corporation care about environmentalism?

It has to do with corporate social responsibility, or CSR — the outward-facing policies within a for-profit that demonstrate some commitment to social good, such as volunteerism, sustainability and philanthropy.

For instance, Comcast Cares Day, the annual day of service for employees, often includes events that have some green aspect, such as the cleanup of public spaces; one companywide goal for the day is to dedicate at least 500,000 volunteer efforts to improving the environment by 2020.

And at its most recent such day at Southwest Philadelphia nonprofit Bartram’s Garden, volunteers deployed 17 wireless machineQ sensors that will give groundskeepers hard data on temperature, soil moisture and other key stats. (Read all about the Internet of Things technology project here).

But internally, there’s more to it. Namely, Comcast makes a lot of waste.

David Newman, the Comcast pro with the aforementioned mouthful of a title, shared some details of the company’s resource efficiency goals regarding waste production, energy usage, fuel usage and products — “four big areas where we feel like we have the biggest impact on the environment,” he said. “It means working to reduce the impact that we have on the communities where we operate and where our employees live.”

“We’re trying to, of course, innovate, we’re trying to grow as a company, we want to bring the best technology,” he said, “but also, that means for us, taking a really serious look at how our operations and our products impact the environment around us.”

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David Newman speaking about data center efficiency at a 2015 conference.

David Newman speaking about data center efficiency at a 2015 conference. (Photo via twitter.com/ComcastNewEng)

Newman’s jurisdiction in the Northeast includes everything between Maine and North Carolina and the East Coast to Ohio, including the “Freedom Region” of Philadelphia, its suburbs and New Jersey. That area encapsulates 23,000 employees and 1,000 technician sites and data centers — plus thousands of service vehicles.

Those trucks have been retrofitted with fuel-saving technology, Newman said, and Comcast is piloting hybrids in the Baltimore area. It’s also in the process of installing electric vehicle charging stations for employees and guests, plus purchasing some EVs for some facilities employees’ use.

Of 15 service regions across the country, the Freedom Region does some of the biggest numbers in recycling: According to Newman, in June alone, 130,000 pounds of cable — yes, 65 tons — and 14,000 pounds of metal were collected. That’s just from utility poles and the like, not even counting items from home boxes and modems.

At its facilities, Comcast has also implemented single-stream recycling, so almost 20,000 employees have access to recycling at their desktops. The buildings themselves, of course, use energy, so they’re in the process of being retrofitted with energy-efficient lighting.

Four solar panel systems were installed in June at two call centers in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Locally, the 58-story Comcast Center is LEED Gold-certified, and the new 60-story Comcast Technology Center is aiming for Platinum. And by the end of this year, the Freedom Region will also be Comcast’s first to use all LED bulbs in its facilities, replacing 28,000 non-energy-efficient lightbulbs in the process.

Why this stress on sustainability? For one, former SVP Susan Jin Davis was promoted to become Comcast’s first-ever chief sustainability officer in December 2016, and Newman said Division President Kevin Casey launched a council specifically on sustainability efforts several years ago.

Plus, “we’ve gotten a lot of really good reception” from the Comcast team about the sustainability initiatives, Newman said. “Employees love it.”

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