Disney aims to cut greenhouse gas in half by 2012
The Walt Disney Co. will seek to cut companywide greenhouse-gas emissions in half during the next four years, and reduce electricity consumption by 10 percent over the next five, as part of a series of environmental goals outlined today.
The chief targets: Disney's theme parks, resorts and cruise ships, which, according to internal figures, account for 91 percent of the company's total greenhouse-gas emissions and 73 percent of its electrical use.
The energy goals are included in a 100-page "Corporate Responsibility Report" Disney released this afternoon, just ahead of what is expected to be an otherwise somber annual shareholder's meeting Tuesday in Oakland, Calif.
The Burbank, Calif.-based media-and-entertainment company has been hit hard by the global recession, which has depressed sales of everything from theme-park tickets to television advertising to DVDs. Company earnings tumbled 32 percent during the first quarter of its fiscal year, which ended Dec. 27, and Disney is slashing jobs across its operations, including in Orlando.
Disney even refers to the economic tumult in its corporate responsibility report, which outlines commitments in categories ranging from promoting nutrition among theme-park visitors to improving working conditions at supplier factories around the world. In a section detailing efforts to steer more business to women- and minority-owned contractors, Disney acknowledges that doing so in 2009 will be difficult given spending cuts across the company: "We realize that with reduced spending there are also fewer opportunities."
Among the most substantial pledges Disney makes are its environmental commitments. In addition to reducing or offsetting greenhouse-gas emissions and cutting electricity consumption, Disney says it aims to reduce the amount of solid waste it sends to landfills by 50 percent over by 2013 and to increase support for the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund each year for the next five years. (Disney donated $500,000 to the fund in 2008.)
Disney says the reductions are interim steps toward long-term goals of achieving zero net direct greenhouse gas emissions, reducing indirect emissions through electricity consumption and eliminating all solid waste.
Stepped-up energy conservation at Disney could have significant implications in Central Florida, where much of the company's parks-and-resorts businesses are based. Emissions are generated through boilers, generators, refrigeration systems, cruise-ship engines and more.
For example, Disney's two cruise ships, which sail out of Port Canaveral, in 2006 generated nearly 270,000 tons of carbon-dioxide equivalents, a measure that combines emissions of each of the gases believed to contribute to climate change. The two ships alone accounted for 48 percent of Disney's companywide emissions of 566,000 tons for the year.
Disney's theme parks and resorts which are heavily concentrated at Walt Disney World in Orlando produced about 244,000 tons of carbon-dioxide equivalents, or 43 percent of the company total. The figures do not include roughly 14,700 tons generated by Disney World's bus operators, Mears and American, nor about 4,300 tons produced by its on-property landfill.
Similarly, Disney's theme parks and resorts consumed approximately 1.5 billion kilowatt hours of electricity in 2006 about 73 percent of the company total.
The theme parks are also the company's biggest waste producers. Disney says its parks-and-resorts division generated 298,000 tons of solid waste, of which 170,000 was sent to landfills. The remainder was diverted for uses such as recycling, composting, donations or reuse.
The data include Disney parks in France and Hong Kong but not Tokyo Disneyland, which the company does not own or operate.
Disney says it has adopted a range of conservation measures, such as fostering employee commuting at Disneyland, installing solar panels at the Disney Store's European distribution center and having executives test-drive hydrogen-fueled Chevrolet Equinox vehicles provided by longtime corporate sponsor General Motors Corp. It has instructed employees at its retail outlets to encourage guests to buy reusable-material bags, and it has begun printing messages on plastic bags describing their environmental attributes and urging reuse.
In 2009, Disney says it intends to form a working group charged with developing new clean-energy strategies and adopt new standards designed to minimize environmental impacts from both employee travel and catering and employee-cafeteria operations, among other initiatives.