Every day I’m reminded of how much sustainability impacts people – those living around our mills, the customers we sell to and our own employees.
Asia Pulp & Paper Group (APP) is fully committed to sustainability in our operations and in working together with outside stakeholder groups. We are also committed to several Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives in the communities in which we operate. To the left is an example of our CSR relief work for the Ciujung flood in January 2012. APP provided supplies to the local community in which thousands of residents were displaced from their homes alongside the Ciujung River bank in Serang, Banten due to the flooding.
However, when it comes to sustainability and helping our communities I think some of the best ideas on how to make an impact lie within our organization. The question becomes: how can we engage employees to further take part in these sustainability and community development initiatives?
In 2011, during the Annual Labor Union Forum where over ten unions under the APP Group gather for training and team building, APP management launched its first CSR Competition. The competition is held annually and aims to encourage employees within APP to take part in CSR activities and work together on community projects.
The CSR Competition is a fun and meaningful program for those who live and work in the communities surrounding the mills. In fact, since most of APP employees and labor union members are part of the community itself, their contribution brings insight into the planning and implementation of the CSR projects.
In the competition, a labor union representative in collaboration with their local HR team present a CSR project that in their opinion can bring most benefit to their local community. Based on the sustainability of the proposed project, stakeholder involvement, number of beneficiaries and alignment to local government’s social programs, the APP Sustainability team along with a representative from the Corporate Human Resources Department selects the best project. The project is then funded by APP management and implemented to become one of APP’s Champion CSR projects of the year.
Last year’s winner was Ekamas Fortuna, an APP recycled-paper mill located in East Java. The winning CSR program is a community Biogas program which will convert cow manure into an affordable and environmentally friendly source of energy to be used for household utilities. One of the mill’s engineers, who is also a member of the Union, developed a simple Methane Digester which can convert cow manure into a methane biogas via anaerobic digestion. The biogas is then captured and turned into cooking or heating gas for baking or even electricity for household necessities.
Since most households in the area have at least one cow, the alternative energy is actually cheaper than conventional energy sources used in local community such as kerosene. Prior to this CSR program, some cow manure in the village are turned into compost for fertilizer, while others are just neglected without a proper waste disposal practice. As you can imagine, without a system for properly disposing of this waste, this can be very unhealthy for the community. However, by utilizing the cow manure and creating a new environmentally friendly energy source, the project aims to create a healthy living environment while adding an economic value for the villagers.
I believe programs like these are at the heart of sustainability, as people come together to improve the livelihoods of their communities in an environmentally and economically beneficial way.