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Sustainability and the environment
Environmental concerns are one of the most pressing issues for business today. Environmental behaviour makes a big difference to the way stakeholders perceive a business. Any lack of responsibility can carry negative repercussions and ultimately lead to a loss of business. Managing their 'environmental footprint' (impact on the environment), in Westpac's view, is crucial for the long-term profitability of all companies.
Sustainability is not a new phenomenon. Several leading banks around the world, including Westpac, recognised the need to consider the environment back in the early 1990s. In 1992, Westpac joined four other banks in initiating the United Nations Environmental Programme for Financial Initiatives (UNEPFI). UNEPFI is the voice for the environment in the United Nations system. Its stated mission is to 'provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.' UNEPFI represents the environmental initiatives of banks.
So how does Westpac fulfil its obligations? First, by reducing its own waste. Recycling bins have been provided in branches, enabling customers to recycle their bank statements. In addition, online eStatements, or paperless statements, have been available since June 200So far, 280,000 customers have switched to paperless statements. Westpac estimates this has helped save 140 tonnes of greenhouse gases, nearly 60 tonnes of paper, or around 740 trees, and more than 1.8 million litres of water.
Westpac has also taken the message to a broader audience, most particularly its stakeholders. Adopting the Equator Principles helps make this happen, together with the development of environmentally-responsible products, such as green home loans and credit cards.