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Laurent Abadie, Chairman & CEO of Panasonic Europe chats with Emmeline Rajasingam from Ethical Corp about CSR strategy and what’s next at Panasonic on the environmental front.
Emmeline Rajasingam: How long have you been at Panasonic, and what does your typical week look like?
Laurent Abadie: In 2004, I started working for Panasonic as Managing Director of Panasonic France. 4 years later, I became the first non-Japanese Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic Europe [quite a feat because the company is based in Japan].
My typical week consists of a lot of travelling, although I am trying to reduce that constantly by making more and more use of our video conferencing system. All of our European locations do have such a system and it makes it easier for all of us to do our job more efficiently and effectively.
ER:How much of Panasonic’s portfolio will be ‘greener’ by 2018, and what does that mean for your corporate strategy?
LA: Panasonic was founded in 1918, and since then, we have been carrying out our business activities under the management philosophy “Contribute to progress in society and to enriching people’s lives through manufacturing.”
Nowadays, global environmental problems have clearly developed into the biggest social issues the entire world has to face.
At Panasonic we have been working hard trying to fulfill our mission to contribute to our society. The Panasonic Group has the opportunity to be the forerunner and make the electronic industry more sustainable.
With this kind of commitment in mind, we set a goal to become the #1 green innovation company in the electronics industry by the 100th anniversary of our founding in 2018.
In order to bring sustainability into the central decision making for all our business activities, we recently launched two new initiatives: Green Life Innovation and Green Business Innovation.
These initiatives represent our view that the more our business grows, the better the global environment should become. In other words, our contribution to the environment and business growth will be integrated.
Our focus is to increase the number of No.1 environmentally-conscious models of products in all categories. We aim to increase the ratio of their sales to total sales to 1:3, double the FY2010 figure.
ER: How can consumer electronics companies engage consumers in greener behavior?
LA: I believe that it is not only possible for any big corporation to engage consumers in a more environmentally-conscious behavior, but that companies have the responsibility to do so. There are many possibile ways to ‘educate’ the consumer, e.g. by clearly outlining the multiple benefits of their environmentally-friendly products (e.g. a fridge which has a very low energy consumption will also help to hold electricity costs down).
ER: Do NGOs help or hinder your work to develop for greener electronics?
LA: NGOs are a very important part of our society as they help to point out areas which need revision, change or improvement. This way, they function as a driver for change.
I do appreciate constructive dialogues with NGOs as I believe that we can only achieve a more sustainable society if all stakeholders work closely together.
ER: Is there a difference between ‘green’ and ‘sustainable’ in your opinion?
LA: The words “sustainable” and “green” are buzzwords these days. Very often they are used as synonyms, although they actually have different meanings. Sustainability goes well beyond ‘green’ by including three pillars: Economy, Society and Environment.
To hear more about CSR strategy at Panasonic, consider attending the Responsible Business Summit in London May 4th-5th.