2011 Corporate Sustainability Report
Over the past few years, we have worked on different strategic initiatives that share the same ultimate goal: to operate more efficiently. One of those is our sustainability program. Begun in 2008, the program represents Delta Dental’s work to reduce the environmental impacts of our business. This important endeavor helps us become good corporate citizens, doing our business in a socially and environmentally responsible manner.
We’ve had some nice successes since the inception of our sustainability program. Our Procurement team changed the way we spend — cutting costs by 25% for our administrative supplies while increasing our Environmentally Preferable Purchasing to 52%.
Also, we switched to 100% post-consumer, FSC-certified paper for our administrative purchases. Our new office building in Alpharetta, Georgia, opened in 2009 and shortly thereafter received the first LEED certification in that Atlanta suburb — a feat that was celebrated by the mayor and a number of local dignitaries. (The LEED certification means the building has met several criteria for energy efficiency and environmentally friendly design.) Enterprise-wide, we’ve cut our electricity use by 5% and our waste-to-landfill ratio by 11%. (This latter number means that more of our waste is being recycled, rather than ending up in landfills.)
I want to take a moment to extend my gratitude to those who helped us achieve these important early successes. There’s still lots more we can do, and there are three ambitious goals that lie before us, which we’d like to accomplish by 2020:
- To have 75% of our enrollees (the people who use our insurance) and 50% of the dentists in our networks using electronic (paperless) document service for claims, notification of benefits — all the daily things that cost so many trees, every day, every week.
- To divert 80% of our waste from landfill nationwide.
- To reduce enterprise-wide energy use by 8% from 2010 usage.
These are challenging goals, but also very worthy ones. Hitting these targets will create sizable savings that we can pass on to our customers, but also of importance is an enormous reduction in our organization’s environmental impact. To do this, we need the help of all of our partners, including employees, clients and network dentists.
I invite you to read about our past successes, our goals and some of the obstacles we need to negotiate in order to achieve them in this, our 2011 Corporate Sustainability Report.top
We enable good health. Our group of companies — Delta Dental of California, Delta Dental of Pennsylvania, Delta Dental Insurance Company and their affiliates, along with Delta Dental of New York — brings affordable dental benefits to 26 million enrollees and individuals. We administer dental plans for Fortune 500 companies, small-and medium-sized businesses and public health programs. We advance access to dental health services to the underserved, and every year we contribute millions of dollars to sponsor community health clinics, dental research projects, education and related oral health initiatives.
Arranging for care is what we do. Our sustainability efforts allow us to do this while minimizing our environmental impact on both the local communities we serve and the global community.
In this, our first Sustainability Report, we reaffirm our commitment to customers, employees, our communities and the environment. You will learn about our sustainability goals and about our current practices in such areas as resource efficiency, paper use reduction, procurement and carbon footprinting.
Thank you for reading this program overview. We welcome your feedback and collaboration to further Delta Dental’s commitment to sustainability.
We began a systematic approach to understanding our environmental impacts in 2008. In any area, be it procurement, waste reduction or carbon footprinting, we always ask the same question: What is our current impact? In the following report, we benchmark our current operations, identify the key environmental impacts, set our performance metrics and create an implementation plan to reduce our performance.
Next we engage with key internal and external stakeholders to identify their needs and perspectives. After aligning behind our goals, we refine our project plan and begin implementation.top
“As an industry leader, Delta Dental is always looking for ways to improve its delivery of services to clients and enrollees. One of the ways we've done that is by transitioning to 'greener' ways to deliver information, such as dentist directories, billing statements, payment notices and much more. In doing so, we've reduced our paper use considerably — which not only benefits the environment, but also puts this information into the hands of clients and enrollees much faster.”
– Belinda Martinez, Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing
One of our biggest environmental impacts comes from our paper use. Insurance has always been a paper-intensive industry with constant demands for messages to enrollees and providers. To get a sense of scale, we estimated that our 2009 paper purchase was about half of our total carbon footprint.
We reduced our paper use, and we use recycled content papers. Since 2009, we have been rolling out paperless electronic document service to selected customer groups while building out our IT infrastructure. This chart details the adoption percentages for paperless service since that time. We expect adoption to accelerate in the next 24 months as we complete our infrastructure rollouts and devote significant marketing resources to communicating the benefits of electronic documents to our customers.
2011 Enrollee Online Adoption Rate for Paperless Benefits Statements
Cumulative Suppressed Pages in 2011 (in millions)top
“For us there are two metrics: how much we spent and how much of that spend was for environmentally preferable products. Since we began our sustainability efforts, we reduced our total spend by 25% and increased our environmentally preferable spend from 8 to 52% of total spend. We've been able to drastically reduce our upstream environmental impacts while reducing costs. Change is hard, but the stakes are too high not to try. My favorite days at work are when we get a win for both the financial and environmental bottom lines.”
– John Rusniak, Procurement Manager
A commitment to sustainability demands that we adhere to principles of conservation and that we purchase materials and products that reflect fiscal responsibility and social equity, as well as community and environmental stewardship. Our goals are to encourage the reduction in purchasing whenever possible, the reuse of materials when available and the purchase of greener products and services when necessary.
In 2011, we switched to 100% post-consumer recycled content Boise ASPEN 100 paper. Going forward, this will be the paper stock used for all of our administrative needs.
Below is a chart tracking our Environmentally Preferable Purchases as a percentage of all purchases. In the same timeframe, our total spend has declined by 25%. For Delta Dental, environmentally preferable spending does not mean more spending.
Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Percentagetop
We began greenhouse gas management in 2008 and have seen tremendous success in the last few years. We've reduced our emissions by 15% over the 2008 baseline. These totals include a blend of Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.
- Scope 1: Stationary Combustion, e.g., natural gas
- Scope 2: Purchased Electricity
- Scope 3: Business Travel, Commuting, Electricity Use at Rented Facilities
For a detailed description of scopes in carbon footprinting, please refer to the World Resource Institute’s Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Standard, which we use as a guideline for our carbon inventory.
We've seen sizable reductions in emissions for each area except stationary combustion. This increase is primarily due to the addition of diesel fuel purchases for generators at two large data centers. Overall, we are pleased with our successes in greenhouse gas reductions in business travel, commuting and electricity purchases — we are a leaner, nimbler organization, and it shows.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions 2008 - 2011top
Delta Dental began a comprehensive waste reduction program at all our facilities in 2008. We focused on increasing waste diversion from landfill through recycling and composting at our largest facilities. Since 2009, we have reduced our waste-to-landfill totals by 34%.
Tons of Waste to Landfill
Waste by Contenttop
Electricity is an essential resource in our day-to-day operations. It powers our customer service centers, lights our offices, heats and cools our buildings and supports information technology. Unfortunately, energy production and usage contribute greatly to greenhouse gas emissions and pose a substantial operating cost, and thus are a primary focus for our conservation efforts. By implementing energy efficiency projects, we dramatically improve operational efficiency and reduce our operating costs.