Cisco’s New Focus on Conflict Minerals

Cisco is a company that already has a robust CSR program and their focus for 2012 is conflict minerals. This week they released their CSR report for 2011 highlighting some of their achievements and plans for the future. Since the Dodd-Frank act was passed, conflict minerals have become a focus for many electronic companies. Cisco is currently working with the Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition on the conflict minerals issue.

According to the Dodd-Frank act, publicly traded companies are supposed to disclose where they source their minerals from. Minerals mined from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Central Africa are often termed as conflict minerals because proceeds from the sales go towards funding the militia. Minerals from this region include gold, tungsten and tin. 

According to their new report Cisco has managed to meet several targets that they have set for themselves:

  • The company reports that it is on track to meet its commitment to reduce all Scope 1, 2 and business-air-travel Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by calendar year 2012. (That was against a 2007 baseline).
  • 100 percent of the contract manufacturers it counts as first tier partners report to the Carbon Disclosure Project.
  • Amount of operational waste generated was down.
  • In its 2011 fiscal year, Cisco reduced its energy usage by approximately 16.9  million kilowatt-hours. That had the effect of helping it avoid 7,400 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. That reduction didn’t come without an investment: Cisco put $1.9 million into energy conservation projects.

This year they also want to focus on other supply chain issues and they have pledged that ,“to enhance our commitment to working responsibly, in FY2012 we are conducting an indepth review to assess and further strengthen our work to promote responsible business practices across our supply chain.”

Out of the five areas of focus on the report, Cisco focuses most on environmental issues and dedicates more than half the report to their targets in this area. The following are the highlights of environmental initiatives taken by the company recently:

  • Considering on PV solar arrays at two Cisco data centers.
  • A more detailed examination of life cycle emissions in the CSR report
  • Due diligence on biodiversity and land use
  • More focus on waste management including controlled substances, product end of life, product packaging end of life and trash from operations.
This report was also organized more closely to GRI guidelines and the content follows topics like materials, energy, GHG emissions, waste management, biodiversity and land use – all of which are more in tune with GRI topics. Constant innovation is one of the trademarks of the company and this has translated over in their reporting as well which is a heartening observation.

Akhila is the Founding Director of GreenDen Consultancy which is dedicated to offering business analysis, reporting and marketing solutions powered by sustainability and social responsibility. Based in the US, Europe, and India, the GreenDen's consultants share the best practices and innovation from around the globe to achieve real results. She has previously written about CSR and ethical consumption for Justmeans and hopes to put a fresh spin on things for this column. As an IEMA certified CSR practitioner, she hopes to highlight a new way of doing business. She believes that consumers have the immense power to change 'business as usual' through their choices. She is a Graduate in Molecular Biology from the University of Glasgow, UK and in Environmental Management and Law. In her free-time she is a voracious reader and enjoys photography, yoga, travelling and the great outdoors. She can be contacted via Twitter @aksvi and also

2 responses

  1. E-Cycle Environmental supports how Cisco is attempting to work with the Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition on the conflict minerals issue. We hope other major electronic companies like Cisco try to stop the use of conflict minerals.

  2. I see nothing in Cisco CSR report on conflict minerals.   No company today, like Cisco, can say their products are conflict free with any confidence.  No company today, like Cisco, and many many other companies can comply with Dodd-Frank.   The complexities are huge.   And if you find a compy like HP who actually has done some tracking work … you will quickly realize they are far, far, far away from the objectives.   NGO’s/Industry groups recognize this publicly.   While they would love perfection, the know that focus today is driving results now .. and futher efforts will drive more results ……

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