Environmental protection now involves all sectors, including telecommunications. What can companies in this industry do to have a real impact on our planet? We met with Gilles Couturier, Director – Environment and Compliance, Environmental Affairs and Sustainable Development at Quebecor, who talked about how companies can implement green initiatives.
The Community Forum (TCF): What is Quebecor’s environmental protection mission?
Gilles Couturier (GC): Quebecor has made it its mission to provide its clients with the best experience possible while minimizing the environmental footprint of its operations.
TCF: Why do you think it’s important for businesses and their employees to do their part for the environment?
GC: Businesses have a responsibility to their employees, their customers, and society as a whole to use resources wisely. To that end, we develop our projects from a global perspective and ask ourselves specific questions, such as: What impact will the project have? Can we approach it differently? What should we focus on to make the best use of our resources?
Our employees’ involvement is essential to the success of our initiatives. We all have a role to play as part of our work. Nowadays, a company’s green strategy is no longer helmed solely by its environmental affairs team; it involves the expertise of all staff. For example, our engineers help reduce our grid’s energy consumption, our buyers leverage their know-how to choose the company’s products; and so on.
TCF: Can you give us some examples of projects that Quebecor has implemented, and the results achieved so far?
GC: Our environmental strategy is based on forward-looking programs that address the main impact of our operations. The first concerns greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Quebecor plans to electrify 100% of its fleet, which will eventually reduce its GHG emissions by 50%, or the equivalent of 85,000 one-way flights between Montréal and Toronto for one person!
We also recycle end-of-life electronics through the We Recycle program. Thanks to this initiative, over 10 million obsolete electronics have been recovered since 2013.
In addition, Quebecor is one of the founding partners of the Rolling Green accreditation, for which some of its film and visual productions qualify. Its event subsidiary, Gestev, has also launched Gestevert, an initiative aimed at achieving the Bureau de normalisation du Québec’s standards for responsible event management.
TCF: What challenges did you face in implementing some of these initiatives?
GC: While we want to address our full impact, we must make choices and prioritize projects with the greatest reach. So we need to maintain a broader view to focus on projects that reduce our footprint the most. To that end, we need to have a good understanding of all our operations and, above all, good data on our impact. For example, Quebecor has been calculating and disclosing its greenhouse gas emissions since 2012. Through this inventory, we are able to understand our main sources of emissions, identify our energy-intensive assets, and design projects to reduce their impact.
TCF: What advice would you give to someone who wants to launch an environmental initiative in their business?
GC: First, have a good understanding of your business to focus your efforts in the right place and understand the teams’ reality. You have to pick the right time to implement a green initiative and make sure that everyone sees its added value. The goal isn’t to hinder a project; on the contrary, it’s working with teams to improve the project by adding an environmental dimension that wasn’t necessarily evident at first.
Then, adapt your approach. Being passionate about a topic sometimes means forgetting that the people you work with don’t necessarily have the same expertise or interests as you! It is therefore important to present a project in a way that meets your audience’s expectations. That said, be passionate. An initiative will always be better led by someone who truly believes in its value and relevance.
Finally, be patient. Sometimes, implementing a project with ambitious goals takes time or a methodical approach.
TCF: What green actions can each of us take in terms of how we use electronic devices?
GC: As individuals, we can do a number of things to use our electronic products responsibly. The general idea is to increase the lifespan of your devices. You can protect them properly (for example, with sturdy cases and protective films), turn them off when not in use to help preserve the battery, and repair them when defective. When a device reaches the end of its useful life, it’s best to drop it off at a collection point for recycling. Understanding home automation (connected devices for your home) also helps you use energy more responsibly.
Collectively, everything we do helps contribute to future generations. Let’s work together, one action at a time.