Republic Services ESG Reports Signal Growing Risks from Extreme Heat and Precipitation

A pair of 2021 environmental, social and governance reports that Republic Services recently released break new ground by labeling rising temperatures and changes in precipitation as climate risks that could cause business disruptions, decrease productivity, endanger worker safety and damage facilities over the next 10 years. or more.

These dangers have been exposed across the United States in recent months. Heat waves, for example, have prompted transporters in many places to bring collection times forward to reduce worker exposure during the hottest hours of the day, and companies say they have stepped up efforts to thermal safety education and protocols.

“In 2022, Republic is focused on analyzing chronic changes in temperature and precipitation to better understand our exposure to physical climate risks,” the company said in the chronic physical risks section of its Working Group on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures, or TCFD, report, a type of ESG report that Republic was the first in its category to publish, followed by WM. Republic’s appears to be the first major public waste management company with a TCFD report detailing and analyzing the risks of heat and precipitation in this way.

“This analysis allows the company to identify key locations that may require additional investments in adaptation and mitigation strategies and resources to support climate change resilience,” Republic’s TCFD report states. From the company CDP report also includes heat and precipitation analysis.

Regarding heat, Republic noted that approximately 70% of its workforce spends the majority of the day working in a truck, equipment or outdoor facility, and that the ability to doing so and maintaining productivity is compromised by harsh conditions.

In this year’s assessments, Republic did not find that heat was correlated with significant productivity loss, lower employee engagement scores, or employee turnover. Sustainable Development Director Christina Steiner said. But the company recognizes that could change in the future, and rising temperatures will require additional investments in training and safety measures, Republic said in the report.

Since I have analyzed the rising temperature trend more closely, The team working on ESG and resilience efforts has strengthened its relationship with operations teams by communicating when a heat spike is expected, Steiner said, and is more mindful by communicating with leaders in geographies historically less impacted by heat. the heat. The company continues to make sure supervisors check in on how employees feel in hot conditions, and it’s thinking about how automation can further help increase the time workers can spend in the cabin of a truck rather than lifting heavy loads, Steiner said. .

Whereas ESG reporting is voluntary, industry is overseeing a multi-year process by US OSHA to develop a workplace heat standard to provide protections against heat-related injury and illness.

Regarding increased rainfall, the company said the biggest implication is the potential for increased levels of landfill leachate. There is also a risk of damage to facilities and subsequent delays in service to customers. Stormwater management costs may also increase. Republic said identifying facilities ripe for resiliency or mitigation upgrades is a priority. Steiner said that analysis prompted closer work with business continuity teams in regions less used to heavy storms.

Republic’s reports also acknowledge acute climate risks such as hurricanes and wildfires. The CDP report Remarks that following Hurricane Katrina, for example, the company lost nearly $1 million in recycling revenue due to the month-long closure of a major recycling facility in New Orleans.

THere are additional physical or transitional risks in the TCFD recommendations that Republic could analyze, or the company could choose to further its temperature and precipitation analysis, Steiner said. In his view, there is scope for further financial assessments of these risks. An example of how the company could further assess the impact of higher temperatures, after looking at its human impact this year, would be to see how it affected electricity consumption.

The ESG reporting process is accelerating in the first quarter, Steiner said. There are a lot of avenues you could continue to discover and research, so we haven’t quite decided which direction we’re going to take TCFD, but we’re starting those strategic conversations.