Disney Unveils its Green Strategy


Mickey's parent company reveals environmental plans. Photo: The Walt Disney Company

Disneyland may not be the greenest place on earth but within 3- to 5-years the company plans to minimize Mickey's footprint, cutting emissions in half, reducing electricity consumption by 10 percent, and halving the garbage at its parks and resorts by 2013. Long-term, the aim is net zero waste and emissions, states the Walt Disney Company's first comprehensive environmental plan from its new corporate responsibility report. Perhaps shareholders at the recent annual meeting are buoyed by the financial impact that reducing energy costs may have on the bottom line. "We applaud Disney for its leadership in adopting these goals, especially at such a challenging time in the global economy," said Peter Seligmann, Chairman and CEO of Conservation International, which offered advice on developing the new sustainability strategies. Though an "environmental council" of execs has been in place for two years, plans to implement the commitment are in the works. Disney's Executive VP of Environmental Affairs, Beth Stevens, speaks to the company's commitment:

In all our businesses, we're doing things in a big way with a common sense approach. There are working groups analyzing things and looking into taking advantage of new technologies. We're looking into recycling programs, water conservation, and energy-efficient cooling systems. In all our vehicle fleets, we're looking at alternative fuels.

Green Teams will oversee areas such as the workspace, events, travel, and dining to implement a Green Standard in phases intended to reach medium-term targets per the report. Some specific actions already taken include a Wall-E-inspired rideshare program that experienced an 18 percent increase among employees over a year, reclaiming water for landscaping, an 80 percent reuse of wood from sets, launching Disneynature, a documentary movie label, and a partnership with the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.

But Disney recognizes the challenge of addressing its biggest eco-culprits and the importance to communities they affect, as reported by the Orlando Sentinel:

Disney's theme parks, resorts and cruise ships, according to internal figures, account for 91 percent of the company's total greenhouse-gas emissions through boilers, generators, refrigeration systems, cruise-ship engines and more. The group also accounts for 73 percent of Disney's total electrical use. For example, Disney's two cruise ships in 2006 generated nearly 270,000 tons of "carbon-dioxide equivalents," a measure of the various gases thought to contribute to climate change. The two ships, which sail out of Port Canaveral, accounted for 48 percent of Disney's companywide emissions of 566,000 tons for the year.

That doesn't include the six figures worth of energy consumed or garbage generated at its theme parks and resorts annually. So Disney's green commitment will put its "environmentality" term to the test.

More on Disney's green efforts:
Snow White was Really Green
Disney's New Dream Home: Worse Than We Dreamed
Quote of the Day: Walt Disney on Nature
Disney to Test Toys for Toxins
Epcot Center Talks Trash at Waste Management's "Think Green" Exhibit

Tags: Alternative Fuels | Energy Efficiency | Environmental Footprint | Movies | Recycling | Water Conservation

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