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Canon Canada employees planting trees and installing beaver guards at a group event.Provided

The beginning of a new year is always a time for reflection and goal-setting. At Canon Canada, that’s especially true for the organization’s green team, a company-wide, cross-departmental committee that develops and leads its environmental initiatives.

Over the first few months of 2023, the green team has been meeting to assess the success of last year’s programs and how they could be improved this year, to look at the company’s environmental goals and the risks it needs to mitigate, and to consider adding any new environmental initiatives.

That goal-setting is a reflection of the mindset, for the company and the green team, that environmental stewardship is an ongoing process, says Leena Nagpal, vice-president of human resources, general and environmental affairs and corporate communications. “It’s a journey,” says Nagpal. “You just have to keep doing new things every single year.”

The company has no shortage of environmental initiatives. Its electronics and battery recycling programs allow employees to drop off end-of-life products they no longer need so they are properly recycled. For employees and customers alike, toner cartridges can be returned to Canon for recycling at its Virginia facility, where the materials are broken down to find second life as raw materials in other products or applications.

At its Brampton, Ont., headquarters, the company installed rainwater collection basins for a grey water system. Once the rainwater has been filtered, Canon automatically shuts off its city water access and uses the grey water for flushing and irrigation. Last year it met its goal of reducing its city water intake by 20 per cent.

Canon Canada’s focus on continuous environmental improvement is something that resonates with Nazly Beltran-Alcazar, an environmental affairs associate specialist in the company’s Brampton office. An environmental engineer and project manager by training, Beltran-Alcazar first considered a career in environmental sciences after watching the documentary An Inconvenient Truth. “Something clicked with me, and I wanted to do something to help ease those impacts,” she says.

While she notes the scope of the work can feel daunting, she sees the company’s commitment to constantly finding ways to improve as inherently optimistic.

“I love it. Every day you have to think about the things you can do better; it’s work that’s never done,” she says. “We’re always looking for ways to improve our performance internally and externally.”

Beltran-Alcazar, whose work involves maintaining the company’s environmental policies and procedures and setting objectives for the year, says she was initially drawn to apply to the company because of its environmental commitments and numerous programs, including its annual Branch Out volunteer initiative. During Branch Out, employees can spend multiple workdays creating green spaces and sustainable environments in their communities by planting trees, removing invasive species and building habitats for local animals.

According to Nagpal, roughly 40 per cent of Canon Canada employees participate in Branch Out every year, and company employees have planted just shy of 7,000 trees. “Everyone wants to give back to the community and reduce our environmental footprint,” she says.

In 2022, her first full year at the company, Beltran-Alcazar got to participate in six Branch Out events, not just as a volunteer but also working behind the scenes to make sure they went smoothly. After a day spent doing the physical work of removing invasive species, she says she was exhausted – but exhilarated, too.

“I was able to meet a lot of new people and travel to other locations outside of Brampton,” she says. “It was exciting to participate and get to have a positive impact in the communities we work and live in.”

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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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