Notes from... Mike Jaklitsch

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Notes from... Mike Jaklitsch

Company Feature

With the convergence of events like Earth Month and Volunteer Week in the month of April, we hear from Company leaders on topics relating to citizenship and sustainability.

To most people, the topic of renewable energy isn’t as sexy as a new shade of red lipstick. But all of us in the global environmental health and safety (EHS) team couldn’t be more excited about the sustainability initiatives underway at The Estée Lauder Companies. Working in the prestige beauty industry, it’s not just about helping people to feel and look beautiful, it’s also about the tremendous attention we pay to all the details behind the scenes, including our impacts on the planet.  

A significant step forward is our recent pledge to achieve a net zero carbon goal by the year 2020.

A significant step forward is our recent pledge to achieve a net zero carbon goal by the year 2020 — to help mitigate the effects of climate change. Efforts to reach this ambitious goal include the current installation of the largest on-site renewable energy project in our Company’s history — a one megawatt-sized photo-voltaic solar array at our U.K. manufacturing facility — to help offset energy consumption at the facility. As the cost of solar panels has come down considerably, and the efficiency of panels has increased, we plan to build on existing solar power installations in our plants and large warehouses, along with other strategic investments in renewable energy sources and solutions. 

Reducing energy consumption is another priority throughout our organization and part of the strategy to reduce our impact. Making our buildings and retail stores more efficient with LED lighting, better HVAC systems and occupancy sensors is already having a positive impact – especially when you consider our global footprint, with thousands of employees in locations around the world. At the same time, there is more work to be done in this regard as cultural differences in various locations impact awareness levels and observance of energy-saving behaviors.  

In addition to renewables and energy conservation, we are proud of our +10 year record of zero waste to landfill.  When you calculate the thousands of different products we manufacture, this is a significant accomplishment – which hasn’t received much attention, but is noteworthy. Consider one of our cosmetics tubes with a screw-on cap at one end, and crimping at the other.  As the tube is crimped, an eighth or sixteenth of an inch of plastic is trimmed off the end of the crimped tube, resulting in tons of small, lightweight strips from each production. We collect these in large bins and recycle them. Whatever we can’t recycle goes to a waste-to-energy facility, so at least it's getting another use.  None of our factory waste goes to a landfill and our collective efforts have raised the recycling percentage to 88.5% on the way to our FY17 goal of 90%.

Another relatively unknown, behind-the-scenes fact is that at two of our factories you’ll find organic employee gardens, one in Blaine, Minnesota and the other in Melville, New York. Employees can sign up to cultivate a small plot of land on the condition that they follow organic gardening principles. In Melville we also ask gardeners to contribute a small amount of their produce to help raise money for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation - a full circle initiative from sustainability to the philanthropic side of the Company. At both campuses we also encourage biodiversity with birdhouses – to attract local song birds to nest there and help reduce the insect population without the use of pesticides.

We are proud of our +10 year record of zero waste to landfill.

As an EHS professional working in the beauty business, I have a desire to protect the natural world as well as an appreciation for our Company’s innovations - and they are interconnected. On any given day, air quality information for any major city is available on your smartphone. The data reveals things like the amount of particulates in the air. The same data drives our Research and Development work, as we consider the consequences of pollution and environmental factors on aging and beauty. And coming full circle, the data also reminds us that we all need to do our part – individually and collectively – as private citizens and as corporations, to safeguard the planet.

As we celebrate Earth Day, let’s look to science to guide our efforts in creating a more beautiful and sustainable world.

Mike Jaklitsch is Vice President, Global Environmental Affairs and Safety, The Estée Lauder Companies. A Certified Industrial Hygienist and Certified Safety Professional, Mike is our Company’s global lead for environmental and occupational safety and health programs; he also oversees EHS compliance and various corporate responsibility programs for all sectors of the business. Mike joined The Estée Lauder Companies 20 years ago with an MS in Environmental & Occupational Health – Industrial Hygiene and a BS in Environmental Science. Mike sits on the board of the Seatuck Environmental Association where he volunteers his time to help conserve Long Island’s wildlife. As an avid birder he enjoys visiting our national parks throughout the United States. He resides with his wife in Douglaston, NY, and has two college-age sons.

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The Estée Lauder Companies' Notes from... Mike Jaklitsch

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