MSO Social Responsibility AWARD

Comcast’s National Recycling Program

Comcast Cable

With 84,000 cable employees in 39 states, nothing Comcast does on a national scale is small. That includes taking steps to be kinder to the environment. Comcast believes its 2014 recycling effort, the National Recycling Program (NRP), was the industry’s “most ambitious environmental project” of the year. Our judges agreed, honoring it with this year’s Social Responsibility Award.

The program aimed to simplify the MSO’s recycling effort, yet it was approached with the care, planning and precision of rolling out a sophisticated piece of technology. In fact, NRP’s life began similarly to that of many Comcast products, beginning with a one-month pilot effort in small markets in each of the MSO’s three divisions.

For the program to work, Comcast’s 80-person Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) staff realized its elements had to be easy for employees to understand, communicated to them clearly and be convenient to use. So corporate representatives working with local EHS managers personally launched the program, which included all recyclable material and touched employees across all Comcast departments and its 1,250 facilities.

The basics of the reverse logistics, used-material recycling effort were color-coded signs and receptacles: blue bins for used taps & splitters; orange for used cords and cables; green for cardboard only; and black for trash only. On each sign were illustrations showing items that were OK to be placed in the colored bins and those that were not.

In addition to coding recycling receptacles by color, Comcast labeled the areas where each receptacle was stationed and placed the signs mentioned above next to the corresponding receptacle.

Comcast provided training materials to employees, including pocket-sized guides explaining the color codes and how to dispose of items like used dry cell batteries, lead acid batteries and used lamps. Signs in facilities reminded employees to become familiar with the recycling plan and notify supervisors should they find improper materials in trash bins. Videos about the program were posted on the employee Intranet. EHS members, as well as videos and pamphlets, trained staff in the proper disposal of waste. EHS personnel visited locations to answer questions and later to review adherence to the program.

Local recognition programs were encouraged, with hats and T-shirts as incentives. Comcast’s recycling vendors used assessment tools that provided metrics to track the program’s success. Those figures were deposited in an enterprise-wide database; Comcast’s EHS Operations unit shared the metrics monthly.

Once the pilot proved successful, the full program launch began at Technical Operations’ Field Fulfillment Offices in Q4 2013 and ended in Q1 2014. After the program’s initial success, EHS focused on improving NRP’s performance through detailed metrics and expansion to other facility types. Before 2014’s end, NRP was in place at more than 1,200 facilities, including headends, customer service centers and Xfinity Stores.

“I am thrilled that thanks to our employees’ dedication and commitment, a total of 11.5 million pounds of used material has been recycled and diverted from landfills since the program’s inception only a year and a half ago,” says Heidy Kelley, VP of Environment, Health and Safety, Comcast Cable. Part of the success was due to clear communication and ease of implementation, say Comcast officials.

–          Seth Arenstein

– Fast Facts

– NRP was fully operational 50% ahead of its original project timeline.

– In addition to color-coded receptacles and training materials, elements included using reverse logistics to provide cost-effective transportation of recyclable materials, collapsible bins and mail-back programs for smaller recyclable material.

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