We work to minimize the amount of waste generated by our operations. In 2012, 1,045 tons of waste was hauled away from our Home Office campus. We have extensive programs to recycle as much waste as possible. In 2012, we:
- Recycled nearly 4.25 million pounds of paper through desk-side recycling and press-waste recycling from our main company print facility
- Recycled 4,605 pounds of aluminum cans and 9,135 pounds of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles from our Home Office campus
- Increased the number and distribution of recycling containers
- Replaced to-go containers in cafeterias with reusable containers
- Installed 53 new water-filtration bottle-refilling stations, eliminating 816,420 plastic water bottles and providing enough filtered drinking water to fill a 24-foot above-ground swimming pool seven times
Other recycling programs involve polystyrene, toner cartridges and carpeting. We also partner with outside organizations to responsibly dispose of items such as computer hardware, batteries, fluorescent lamps, PCB light ballasts and similar items used at our Home Office campus and other locations.
Reducing paper use: Employees
As a financial services company, we purchase and use large amounts of paper. By making four changes in the way employees use paper, we have reduced paper-use by 16.8 percent from 2010 levels. This represents a 31.16 percent reduction in our corporate headquarters and a 12.07 percent reduction in our field offices.
The four paper use changes are:
- Eliminating separator sheets on shared printers
- Printing double-sided (duplex) whenever possible
- Eliminating unnecessary printing
- Recycling used paper
Reducing paper use: Customers
Encouraged by our in-house effort, we then turned to paper used in communicating with Allstate’s customers. Again, we set an ambitious goal of reducing customer paper use by 20 percent by 2013, using 2009 as a baseline. At the end of 2012, we surpassed our goal by reducing customer paper use by 27 percent compared with 2009 levels. In 2012 alone, these efforts helped us save more than six million pieces of paper.
We achieved this goal by promoting our suite of paperless solutions (eBill, ePayments and ePolicy) to deliver greater convenience, cost savings and compelling environmentally friendly options for Allstate customers. Discounts that encourage paperless options were also introduced. For example, in some states, Allstate auto customers who meet certain criteria, including enrollment in eBill, can lower their premiums. And the new Allstate eSmartSM Discount gives customers in select states an additional discount for enrolling in ePolicy, which allows customers to access, store and manage insurance policy documents from a convenient online location. We have also eliminated unnecessary customer billing documents, such as the zero-due bill, which saves approximately 6.2 million bills per year, and have delivered a ramped-up email awareness campaign in lieu of direct mail.
From 2011 to 2012, customer enrollment in eBill grew by 37%, which avoided nearly 3.4 million pieces of mail. At the end of 2012, 24%, or about 4.8 million policies, were enrolled for automatic payment plans and 18.9%, or 3.8 million, were enrolled in eBill.
Convincing customers to go paperless is still a challenge since many still prefer paper statements and policies. We continue to invest in education and awareness campaigns to inform customers and encourage them to enroll in various paperless options. In addition, Allstate is working with others in the industry to change state laws to permit more electronic transactions for and with insurance consumers. State laws are typically very specific about how companies can communicate, and what they can or must communicate. We are promoting law changes that would permit and encourage electronic transactions to reduce the amount of paper required. For example, we are promoting laws that would enable insurance companies to post, and consumers to access, standard policy forms on websites rather than printing and mailing those forms to consumers. This could improve the ease of doing business and greatly reduce the amount of paper needed. Consumers would have the right to request paper copies, but this is a step in moving to a more electronic and modern platform.
Our paper reduction efforts also mean lower GHG emissions. In 2012, these efforts resulted in a reduction of 27.5 tons of paper. According to research done by the Paper Task Force, a peer-reviewed study of the lifecycle environmental impacts of paper production and disposal, the lifecycle of one ton of paper results in 5,601 pounds of GHG emissions. Using this methodology, this program avoided more than 69 metric tons of GHG emissions in 2012.
Reducing water use: Employees
Allstate’s total water use at our Home Office comes from eight private water wells located on our property. We have established programs to reduce water consumption, identify water-saving opportunities and install water-saving devices where appropriate.
In 2012, these measures enabled us to limit the increase in water consumption at our Home Office to 15%, despite increasing the employee population by 30%. The total withdrawals of water from our wells totaled 73,432,200 gallons, nearly 10 million gallons more than in 2011.
Most of our water, approximately 75 percent, is used for drinking, bathrooms and kitchens. The rest is used mostly to operate cooling towers for our building heating systems. Our 250-acre Home Office campus also uses stormwater retention ponds, making it nearly 100 percent self-sufficient for landscape irrigation purposes. When new landscaping is added, we focus on native plants with low water requirements.