Hasbro, Inc., better known to millions of board game aficionados as the force behind Battleship, has just been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Agency for its efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The company has received the “Excellence in Greenhouse Gas Management” honor as part of the EPA’s new Climate Leadership Awards program. According to Hasbro, the company is the first in the toy industry to join EPA’s Climate Leaders Program, the parent program for the leadership awards. Hasbro is apparently also the first company in the entire state of Rhode Island to join in.
Hasbro has created something of a stir in the toy industry now that the Battleship board game has been translated into a Hollywood actioner by the same name, but the company doesn’t routinely make headlines for its sustainability related activities, so the new award affords a good opportunity to take a closer look at the ingredients that go into leadership.
The risks of corporate leadership on climate change
Given the political pushback against climate action in general and federally coordinated action in particular, the simple act of taking a public stand on climate change in partnership with a federal agency takes on greater significance. The recent experience of GM, which just announced a cutback on production of the Chevy Volt electric vehicle following sustained negative commenatary by politically affiliated talk show personalities, demonstrates that the pushback can have real bottom line consequences for corporations that stick their necks out. That risk could increase for companies associated with products for children, so Hasbro should get points just for taking a clear public position on the value of federal programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Picking off low hanging fruit
The sticking point, of course, is making sure that words translate into action. This can be especially difficult for U.S. toy manufacturers like Hasbro, which depend on an overseas supply chain. Hasbro’s apparent strategy here is twofold. One is to focus on materials, and to that end, last December Hasbro deployed another of its iconic military themed toys, G.I. Joe, to promote its efforts to reduce packaging, use more recycled material, and eliminate polyvinyl chloride (PVC). If you happen to notice that those annoying wires that hold your toy in place are now made of paper, rattan or bamboo, now you know why.
The second part of the equation is to focus on domestic facilities that the company controls directly, and here Hasbro has a solid long term track record. Hasbro had earlier reduced carbon emissions at its U.S. operations by 43 percent between 2000 and 2007, and is on the way to meeting its pledge of another 10 percent reduction between 2008 and 2012.
EPA Climate Leadership Awards
As for the Climate Leadership Awards, the program was established to highlight companies and individuals that are “breaking new ground in cutting carbon pollution that harms our climate and threatens our health,” according to a statement by Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, in hopes of spurring others to action.
Connect the dots: Hasbro, Battleship, the U.S. Navy, algae biofuel and climate leadership
The Battleship movie also figures into Hasbro’s sustainability profile, though in a way that the company most likely never anticipated.
In the film, the U.S. Navy battles creatures that rise up from the sea. To say anything more would be giving too much away, but in an odd bit of Hollywood time-shifting, thanks to Hasbro, movie-goers could find themselves cheering for biofuels and other non-petroleum alternatives as the Navy takes on powerful aliens from the deep.
Key parts of the film were shot in 2010 with the cooperation of the Navy during a real-life international maritime exercise, the Rim of the Pacific, enabling the filmmakers to incorporate footage of Navy ships in action into the movie.
The same exercise takes place every two years and for this year’s RIMPAC the Navy is fielding a Green Strike Group in which every ship and aircraft is powered with the help of biofuels and other non-petroleum alternatives.
That could include algae biofuel, by the way, which the Navy has been testing this year. Who’s laughing at algae now?
Follow Tina Casey on Twitter: @TinaMCasey.