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Greg Hern, human resources manager, environment, at SaskTel.Provided

In 2022, SaskTel affirmed its commitment to environmental sustainability by adding it as a new area of focus when deciding which non-profit organizations its Community Investment Program (CIP) will support.

Since 2001, SaskTel has supported non-profit and charitable organizations that concentrate on areas including information and communications technology, women in non-traditional roles, persons with disabilities, visible minorities, youth, Indigenous people and rural communities. It has now added events and programs that feature environmental sustainability.

Greg Hern, human resources manager, environment, says it just makes sense to support environmental sustainability, whether through CIP or the many other ways SaskTel embeds a green mindset into its operations.

“It seems like it’s a requirement socially right now, but it’s more than that,” he says. “This is our home. This is where we live. We see ourselves as leaders in the environmental field in Saskatchewan. We are always paying attention and trying to do what we can with the resources we have.”

An example is SaskTel’s environmental management system (EMS). Aligned with ISO 14001, the international standard that specifies requirements for an effective EMS, SaskTel’s system is a group of interrelated policies and procedures that help the organization control its impact on the environment. SaskTel uses the EMS to monitor day-to-day operational processes, ensure alignment with legislative requirements and deliver on its environmental strategy.

“Through our EMS, we aim to reduce our environmental impact, the resources used and the waste generated,” says Shara McCormick, vice-president, human resources and corporate services. “We are focused on waste minimization, fuel and energy use efficiency, reducing overall direct greenhouse gas emissions, biosecurity and supporting employee-driven community greening initiatives through our EnviroCare team.”

SaskTel’s EnviroCare volunteer group works to create a greener community and promote environmental awareness. This includes hosting lunch-and-learns, co-ordinating donation drives and doing cleanups and plantings at local parks and greenspaces.

The SaskTel Phones for a Fresh Start program collects and recycles old cellphones and directs all the proceeds to buy and donate newer phones and prepaid phone cards to support those fleeing domestic violence and youth transitioning out of care from the Ministry of Social Services. In 2021-22, Phones for a Fresh Start provided 675 phones and $12,000 worth of phone cards. The program recycled 5,363 devices.

“People go through phones quite quickly now,” says Hern. “So we use the value of those devices through the recycling and refurbishment process to support an important cause and to help the environment.”

SaskTel has other e-waste recycling initiatives as well. The SaskTel Pioneers, a network of current and retired employee volunteers, refurbish used computers and donate them to schools. SaskTel also recycles or repurposes consumer electronic equipment and gadgets, as well as its own equipment, such as cable boxes and telecom servers.

Hern says all of these initiatives and the commitment to sustainability is a source of pride for employees. “We get a lot of input and questions from employees who are really passionate about protecting the environment,” he says. “We are proud of Saskatchewan and are very interested in protecting our home and doing what we can.”

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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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