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RTÉ targets the elimination of single use plastic from Donnybrook site


Business Type: Ireland’s Public Service Media Organisation

Location: Based in Dublin, and throughout Ireland.

Mission Statement: Vision, Mission and Values:
RTÉ's Vision
To champion Irish culture by captivating audiences with trusted, engaging and challenging content; celebrating our country’s rich diversity; and cultivating Ireland’s talent.
RTÉ's Mission
To enrich Irish life with content that challenges, educates and entertains.
RTÉ's Values
As an organisation and individually, RTÉ will be outward looking, creative, respectful, sustainable and accountable, collaborative and transparent.

No. of Employees: 1,924 (31 December 2017)

Overview of CSR Initiative:

Project team:
As part of RTÉ’s ongoing sustainability strategy, we set a target to eliminate single use plastics from restaurant operations on our Donnybrook site. Approximately 1,000 teas/coffees a day are consumed on site.
Resources required:
The project emerged as a target from discussions within RTÉ’s Green Broadcaster Advisory Group. This diverse group meet periodically to target improvements across a wide range of sustainability issues. These targets, along with a number of successes to date, are documented in a report copied to the group and to RTÉ’s Executive.

To pursue this particular target, we secured the commitment of RTÉ’s site catering contractor, while RTÉ’s Property and Services team devised a strategic methodology outlining how this project could be delivered.

A cross-functional team was established to oversee the project, including personnel from RTÉ’s Property and Services and Corporate Communications teams, as well as our site catering contractor.

In summary:

• Before single use plastics could be eliminated, a suitable alternative needed to be sourced. RTÉ’s catering contractor agreed to seek information and identify a suitable supplier;

• To incentivise adoption of our plans to reduce single use plastics, RTÉ, in partnership with our catering contractor, developed a three-pronged strategy: (i) offer discounts to those using a keep cup, (ii) provide a crockery cup option to allow zero price impact and (iii) introduce an additional charge for those using a single use compostable cup.

• To amplify this strategy, RTÉ commissioned specially designed branded water bottles and keep cups with the “I care about the environment and the homeless” message. This allowed us to put an important message into the hands and minds of both owners and all those they interacted with in support of RTÉ’s, and their own, commitment to sustainability and CSR.

• The cups and bottles sell in our main restaurant for €6.50; the keep cups are self financing.

• We identified the need to provide a specially-designed sink next to our tea and coffee station in the main restaurant to enable staff and customers to wash their keep cups. This was installed to coincide with the launch of our campaign and the availability of branded keep cups and bottles.

• We also reviewed the number of compost bins across our Donnybrook campus to accommodate these significant changes.

• A number of weeks after our ‘soft launch’, RTÉ invited Focus Ireland to the formal launch of RTÉ’s campaign “to eliminate single use plastics from restaurant operations”. This was to mark the replacement of all single use plastic items with compostable items. A donation was made to Focus Ireland in context of sales.

RTE I Care Keep Cup

The success of this project was based on extensive planning and research, as well as a commitment to collaboration. Key milestones were identified and a schedule of activity defined to allow for availability of the compostable cups, installation of the cup wash sink and the lead-in sale period of branded keep cups.

The project was managed by RTÉ Property and Services, with significant input from RTÉ HR and Communications to maximise awareness and understanding among the many people, both staff and visitors, who use our restaurants on a daily basis. Messages were delivered to staff through a specially designed poster campaign, point-of-sale and regular news stories and post on the Hub, RTÉ’s intranet

The changes, including the incremental cost increase, needed to be communicated in a way which focused on the positive impact these changes would have on RTÉ’s carbon footprint, and consistency with our commitment to becoming a more sustainable organisation. Because the single use plastics issue had become so high profile – including world news articles - it was important that RTÉ be seen to play its part in driving change. It was refreshing to see RTÉ staff actively responding and supporting the change. The incremental compostable cost has been passed on to the end user.

Our water cooler contractor has supported our efforts and now, as a result, all cups at water coolers are compostable. This is a very good example of how our leadership and positive behaviours can influence commercial service providers.

RTE I Care Bottle

The following news story was shared with staff on the Hub (RTÉ’s intranet) and on RTÉ’s electronic staff noticeboards:
We have reduced our monthly usage of single-use cups from 33,500 to 24,000. This equates to a reduction of 114,000 over a 12 month period. Because all cups are now compostable, our policy will remove approximately 402,000 plastic single-use cups from the waste stream per year.

We have also taken 8,250 plastic salad/food containers out of the waste stream and replaced these with compostable containers. This equates to approximately 99,000 plastic containers being removed from the waste stream over a 12 month period.

These figures serve as an example of the significant impact of RTE’s policy in this area. Similar figures apply to all the other single-use plastic items from the restaurant which have now been replaced with compostable alternatives.

Your support is very much appreciated and has made the success reported possible

CSR Dimension:

Towards Responsible Business’ Ireland’s National Plan on CSR 2017-2020 identifies 4 core dimensions of CSR – Environment, Community, Workplace and Marketplace.

• Environment - minimising negative environmental impacts
• Community - interaction with your local community partners and organisations
• Workplace - supporting and engaging with your employees
• Marketplace - interaction with your local community partners and organisations.

Please select the dimension(s) that you apply to your CSR Initiative and why?
RTÉ has fully recognised its responsibility in the areas of environmental performance and sustainability. This commitment is enshrined in our Environmental Policy which is signed by RTÉ’s Director General.

This policy embraces adjustments in our environmental approach in keeping with changing times including the need to focus on the impacts of climate change.
With an acute awareness of population growth, people living longer and the high demand on the world’s natural resources; RTÉ is aligning its environmental performance with its sustainability as an organisation. This ethos is manifested in the specific areas of environmental performance and achievements.

RTÉ holds the Business in the Community – Business Working Responsibly Mark. This recognises RTÉ’s best-in-class commitment to sustainability and to our positive behaviour as a responsible business.This CSR certification is independently audited by the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) and it is based on ISO 26000. This is an all-encompassing standard that certifies responsible and sustainable business practices and is available to organisations worldwide. Only approximately 25 companies in Ireland have secured this to date.
The Green Broadcaster Advisory Group in RTÉ, comprises representatives from within the organisation and also representation from external organisations like the EPA. It targets best practice and reports to the Executive Board on progress.

Business Impact

How has the CSR initiative benefitted your business and demonstrated a win:win in the short-term and/or long-term?
As Ireland’s public service media organisaton, RTÉ strives to apply the highest standards to its operations. The elimination of single use plastics from restaurant operations was a challenging target. However, a commitment to best practice proved decisive and it is believed that there is now a model which others can use.
The benefits of this initiative include a positive impact on the very essence of the RTÉ brand and our reputation, both internally and externally. This is underpinned by the importance of CSR and sustainability to the organisation which seeks to lead and set example with innovative targets and achievements.

What did you learn from your experience of creating and implementing a CSR initiative?
What advice would you give a business starting on their CSR Journey?

We experienced great satisfaction implementing this CSR initiative and seeing staff embrace the changes. We were unaware of anyone else who had undertaken a similar project, and this gave us a sense of achievement. A strategic approach is essential, along with a commitment to phased staff and stakeholder communications to create understanding and support.
The advice I would give to others is to embrace the need for change; CSR is a journey. Make use of all the resources available, e.g. Green Business, an organisation that provides invaluable support. Exchange notes with other businesses which have done or are doing similar.
Plan the initiative well and ensure that all people affected are involved at the earliest opportunity.

Download a copy of this Case Study as a pdf.


Case Study provided by RTÉ
December 2018