Sustainability at the Forefront for AmCham Member Companies

The efforts of three companies in very different industry sectors indicate the scope of activity undertaken by leading multinationals operating in Taiwan.

Many AmCham member companies have been active in supporting the increasing importance of sustainable development in Taiwan through their operations and products, supply chains, employee policies, and community initiatives.

Among them, Corning has been at the forefront of efforts in trade secrets protection and talent development, while Procter & Gamble (P&G) Taiwan has developed a new supply chain system that reduces carbon emissions. Ørsted, the world’s leading windfarm developer, is building several offshore windfarms to help Taiwan boost its renewable energy capacity.

For Corning Taiwan, which produces LCD glass substrates, its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program consists of four main areas that cover five of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) defined by the UN. These include good health and wellbeing (Goal 3), quality education (Goal 4), affordable and clean energy (Goal 7), industry, innovation, and infrastructure (Goal 9), and responsible consumption and production (Goal 12).

Regarding CSR, Corning Taiwan considers it important to meet the expectations from customers, the government, and the community, says Daniel Tseng, president of Corning Display Technologies Taiwan (CDTT), Corning Taiwan’s main business unit. He notes that the government has high requirements for major companies like Corning in areas like environmental, labor, and safety conditions. “However, we want what we do to be even higher than the government requirements,” says Tseng, who also leads an executive team that manages the company’s CSR development.

The trade secrets protection and talent cultivation aspects of the Economic Growth initiative of Corning Taiwan’s CSR program support the development of domestic technological and scientific R&D talent, thus addressing Goal 9. Corning Taiwan has advocated for trade secrets protection awareness in Taiwan for over a decade and was a founding member of the Taiwan Association for Trade Secrets Protection.

The company has also developed a comprehensive internal employee culture that includes an emphasis on diversity and inclusion in the working environment, a global internship program, and a strong safety culture. The diversity and inclusion initiative includes ensuring gender pay equality, career coaching for female employees, and support for gay and lesbian employees. “We have a new program where several talented female managers are selected to undertake career and work coaching sessions with senior leaders,” says Tseng.

Interestingly, the birthrate among members of Corning Taiwan’s workforce over the past 20 years has been several times higher than the Taiwan average – a positive indicator of employee well-being and perhaps of the level of the company’s employee pay and benefits.

In response to the COVID pandemic, Corning Taiwan last July also set up a facemask assembly line in its own facility, producing millions of facemasks which it then distributed to other Corning units globally for use by employees and their families.

The company’s CSR Program’s STEM Initiatives (Goal 4) consist of several educational programs for students. These include holding an annual summer camp for youngsters, sponsoring a national science fair for primary and high school students, and conducting the Corning Future Innovator competition for university undergraduate and graduate students. The competition, in which participants apply glass, ceramics, and optical fibers to develop new product solutions, has attracted over 5,000 students and faculty members since its launch in 2015. It has also become a regional program model and was launched in China in 2018.

The Corning Future Innovator competition has attracted over 5,000 university students and faculty members since its launch in 2015. Photo: Corning

A prominent example of the CSR Program’s Environmental Action, which covers Goals 7 and 12, is one of Corning Taiwan’s main products, the Eagle XG Glass. It was the first in the industry to be free of heavy metals, reducing the environmental impact during manufacturing. Also, during its LCD glass substrate manufacturing process, Corning Taiwan has been able to achieve a water recycling rate of 95% as well as to decrease Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) emissions to a level 30% lower than official requirements. 

Corning Taiwan has also collaborated with AU Optronics Corp. (AUO) to use the rooftops of Corning facilities to produce solar energy for sale by AUO to Taipower. The solar panels produce about 2,500 KW of power, enough to power 1,000 households, and reduce carbon emissions by 2,375 metric tons a year.

The company has also been active in Community Involvement, which covers Goal 3, through disaster relief fundraising, supporting a home for disabled youth, and organizing employee volunteering activities. The company also sponsors the baseball team at a school near its plant in the Southern Science Park in Tainan.

Looking forward, Corning intends to continue increasing its renewable energy usage to 10% by 2025 while further reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Consumer goods

P&G is a household name in Taiwan – literally, since its products are found in so many homes. While the company imports all its products rather than manufacturing locally, it has devised a new supply chain system to distribute its products to customers through the shortest route possible, cutting CO2 emissions.

The Supply Network Design (SND) system, which was developed by P&G specifically for use in Taiwan, utilizes special fit-for-use packaging to reduce the stages involved in sending products to customers, reducing transportation time and costs. The “circular shippers,” made of recyclable material and reusable up to 50 times, tackle the problem of single-use wastage. The SND system was introduced two years ago, and in its first year was able to reduce P&G Taiwan’s CO2 emissions by 650 metric tons, equivalent to 1.2 times the emissions absorbed by Taipei’s Da’an Park.

P&G Taiwan’s corporate citizenship consists of three focus areas – Community Impact, Equality and Inclusion, and Environmental Sustainability.

Equality and Inclusion covers employee policies and community relations. On this front, the company is especially supportive of the LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and related) communities through participation in Taiwan’s annual Pride Parade, advertising campaigns, and advocacy together with a retail partner.

“The key principle is we respect all individuals’ uniqueness and differences, says James Lin, president of P&G Hong Kong and Taiwan. “Everyone has the equal access and opportunity to learn, grow, and succeed in the company. So while we inspire and reward courageous and inclusive leadership, we also invest in an experience-based curriculum that addresses specific and targeted areas of bias.”

To help employees with parenting, the company has generous policies such as offering maternity leave of 14 weeks, more than the eight weeks mandated by local law, and 10 days of parental leave for both fathers and mothers. There are also employee workshops to discuss the challenges facing working parents and how the company could be more accommodating to parents.

For the past 25 years, P&G Taiwan has taken part in the Six Minutes Protect a Life campaign in partnership with the government. The program encourages women to undergo screening for breast cancer and cervical cancer, which used to be among the leading causes of cancer death for local women.

The company’s employees’ volunteer sustainability taskforce runs initiatives such as an effort to reduce plastic waste. For instance, after observing that single-use plastic cups were the major waste item in the office, especially on Fridays, the task force held a “No Plastic Friday” campaign. “In the first two months of rollout, every Friday morning we sent out an email to remind employees,” says Lin. “Additionally, we renovated our trash recycling room to ensure all waste is well categorized and recycled, even for the single-use plastic cups.”

Several dozen boxes of P&G products await donation to Taiwan NGOs, part of the company’s efforts to support community organizations and hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: Procter & Gamble

Demonstrating its commitment to Community Impact during the local COVID outbreak, P&G Taiwan donated sanitary products to 12 hospitals for their female healthcare professionals and thousands of cases of such P&G products as feminine-care items, diapers, and detergents to 30 NGOs to make available to members of the public in need.

Last November, P&G Taiwan and Hong Kong were the first markets to pilot the Workways program, which provides employees with flexible work-from-home arrangements for up to 50% of workdays per month. Even as the current COVID-19 outbreak gets under control, the program is set to continue, ensuring that P&G Taiwan employees can continue to benefit from flexible work schedules.

Renewable energy

A leading builder and operator of offshore and onshore windfarms and solar plants, Ørsted ranked as the world’s most sustainable energy company in the Corporate Knights 2021 Global 100 Index for the third year in a row. In Taiwan, the company is a partner in the Formosa 1 offshore windfarm, the first commercial-scale offshore windfarm in the Asia-Pacific region. Completed in 2019, Formosa 1 provides 128 MW of power, which can power 128,000 households.

Ørsted is also working on four other offshore projects in the waters off Changhua County, which when completed will be able to provide 2.4 GW of power. As of now, three of the four have been awarded grid capacity totaling 1.82 GW.

“Of the 1.82 GW, half of it – 900 MW – is in the Changhua 1 and 2A projects that are currently under construction in the Taiwan Strait, hopefully for completion by the end of next year,” says Christy Wang, Ørsted Taiwan’s general manager. “We have another 920 MW that should be completed in 2025-26.”

Ørsted Taiwan General Manager Christy Wang says that the company began an apprenticeship program with Da-Yeh University in Changhua to increase the number of local offshore wind technicians. Photo: ØRSTED

These projects all contribute to Taiwan’s renewable energy generation with the aim of reducing carbon emissions and dependence on polluting sources of energy such as coal and natural gas. Ørsted’s windfarms, once completed, will play a vital role toward attaining the Taiwan government’s announced goal of relying on renewable sources for 20% of the island’s energy by 2025.

Globally, Ørsted aims to become carbon-neutral in energy generation and operations by 2025 and to achieve a net-zero carbon footprint by 2040. Currently, 90% of the company’s energy generation and operations come from green sources; projects such as the Changhua offshore windfarms will enable it to gain the other 10%.

Because the offshore wind industry is relatively new in Taiwan, there is a shortage of suitable talent, a problem Ørsted is addressing by funding training for both its own employees and those of prospective partner firms in its supply chain.

Ørsted Taiwan also runs an apprenticeship program in cooperation with Da-Yeh University in Changhua County to develop offshore windfarm talent. “We’re going to operate our first newly built windfarms next year, but we couldn’t find offshore windfarm technicians, so we have to train technicians from scratch,” says Wang. “The student apprentices work with dedicated mentors, and we also give them a chance to get on-site, real hands-on experience.”

Ørsted maintains its Asia-Pacific headquarters in Taiwan, with employees of 13 nationalities, and over half of the Asia-Pacific management team being female. The company’s global initiatives include an employee-led network to foster inclusiveness and discuss employee welfare issues.

The three companies cited in this article are just a sample of what AmCham member companies are doing to advance sustainable development in Taiwan, whether in their operations or through employee and community engagement.