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Monika Potocki, senior specialist, environmental, social and governance, at Bell Canada.Provided

After earning a degree in sustainability in business from McGill University in 2016, Monika Potocki knew Bell Canada was where she wanted to launch her career.

“When I was a student, we had someone from Bell’s corporate responsibility team make a presentation about the company’s strategy and I told myself I need to be on that team,” says Potocki, a specialist in environmental, social and governance (ESG).

That was her goal, but it took her a while to land that dream job. Potocki joined the graduate leadership program and spent her first three years in Bell’s operational divisions, Bell Technical Solutions and Bell’s Field Services, which are responsible for several thousand technicians who connect Bell residential customers in Ontario and Quebec with television, internet and home phone services.

“I was a cheerleader encouraging our technicians to recycle modem and receiver boxes and to do other things for the environment,” says Potocki.

When it comes to sustainability, every little bit helps. But more broadly, Bell has launched a number of big programs and initiatives to reduce the company’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and carbon footprint. “We have a goal to be carbon neutral for our operational GHG emissions starting in 2025,” she says. “And we have set science-based GHG reduction targets to ensure that we are verifiably doing our fair share to meet Canada’s Paris Agreement commitment.”

Among the more ambitious measures was a three-year program launched on January 1, 2021. By the end of 2023, Bell hopes to recycle seven million electronic devices, including mobile phones, television receivers, modems and WiFi pods, which Bell customers return via their Bell Blue Box e-waste recycling program.

“We refurbish modems to give them a second, third or fourth life,” says Potocki. “We recycle and resell cell phones whenever possible. If a phone is defective, we send it to a certified recycler who dismantles it and removes anything of value, like gold and copper.”

The company donates the annual net proceeds to WWF Canada to support the organization’s campaigns to fight biodiversity loss and preserve ecosystems.

Bell is in the early stages of a multi-year program to convert thousands of its fleet of 11,000 vehicles from internal combustion to battery electric by 2027. “A big challenge for us these days is electric vehicles,” says Andrew Savage, senior manager, real estate and environment with Bell. “But the pace of conversion is impacted by supply chain issues as well as the capital cost of the vehicles and the charging networks.”

His division will be operating some 5,500 vehicles at 2023 peak, comprising a mix of cars used by managers and vans for technicians. In 2021, Bell introduced 30 battery electric cars. Last year, the division acquired 50 electrically powered vans and plans to convert 157 vans this year.

To date, Savage’s division has been able to keep the first 80 electric vehicles on the road with only 30 charging stations. Company-wide, BCE had installed 200 chargers by the end of 2022 and had replaced 274 vehicles with more fuel-efficient models.

The company’s environmental programs extend to reducing the carbon footprint in hundreds of offices. Whenever possible, Bell converts from fluorescent to LED lighting, installs low-flow plumbing in washrooms, and has motion sensors that turn lights on or off depending on occupancy.

“When you look at the full scale of our programs and initiatives, you see how sustainability trickles down to the day-to-day work of every employee,” says Potocki.

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Advertising feature produced by Canada’s Top 100 Employers, a division of Mediacorp Canada Inc. The Globe and Mail’s editorial department was not involved.

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