Sustainable Innovation

Cultural Differences and Sustainable Development

If you ask people what sustainability is all about, you will probably get multiple answers. Between 2009 and 2011 I interviewed sustainability managers across Europe. I found out that sustainable development has different connotations. Interpretations are often linked to historical developments.

In France, sustainability (développement durable’) has a strong social connotation. The principles of the French revolution, ‘Liberté, Egalité and Fraternité’, are still visible in today’s society. People believe that rights of individuals, employees and families should be defended at all times. You can recognize this social connotation of sustainability in the approach of Orange and of La Poste.

The Swedes are known to be very close to nature. For many Swedes, sustainability is more connected to environmental aspects. You can read more about this in the case study about best practices of Ericsson.

Not only national connotations may differ. Differences in business culture impact the way how sustainable strategies can be implemented in a successfull way.

In France, the society is organised in a strongly hierarchical way. Important decisions are taken at top level. This allows a swift implementation of new strategies. Decisions are taken early in the process and handed top-down through the hierarchy, as is done for example at Danone.

In Northern European countries, important decisions are often being made after intensive consultation rounds. These consultatations are being used to gather ideas but notably to make sure that all participants agree on the specific decision. A disadvantage is that this process may be time consuming.

What can we learn from the above?

First: Never assume that your understanding of sustainability is being shared by everyone across Europe – let alone people in the Americas, in Asia or Africa. When you are developing a multinational sustainability strategy, make sure you understand the regional connotations and include them as much as possible.

Second: Be aware of differences in business culture. Your sustainability implementation plan will need to be challenged by local experts. You will probably need to adapt it to the local business culture and decision making process in order to be successfull.

Globalisation improves a mutual understanding between people in different countries. Also national business cultures may change. French organizations slowly get less hierarchical. Generation Y employees get in direct contact with company boards as the case study of the Veolia Environnement illustrates. Globalisation however needs time to develop. At date, the differences in connotations, historical legacy and business culture are still very important.

Develop global, but adapt to local conditions: Test your global strategy with regional experts, and complete your strategy with regional implementation tactics, for instance in cooperation with national governments and local NGO partners, as DSM, Philips and Nokia show.

More about Best Practices of European Sustainability Leaders in: ‘Your customers want your products to be green’.


Dutch Business News Radio Interview

Why do customers want green?

This week I have presented my new book on the Dutch radio in the Business News Radio program ‘BNR Duurzaam’.

Presentator Mark Beekhuis, Jos Cozijnsen and I exchanged about sustainability news and strategies, employee engagement, cultural differences and the new book.

For those who understand Dutch find hereby the link to the radio emission:

Danones dual focus on business success and social progress
January 31, 2011, 3:10 pm
Filed under: Best Practices in France | Tags: , , , , ,

Danone is a world leading company in fresh dairy products, bottled waters, baby and medical nutrition. Myriam Cohen-Welgryn is Danones General Manager VP Environment. She explains how Danone has implemented its dual commitment to business success and social progress, illustrated with examples such as the ambitious carbon emission reduction target, KPI’s, a Green Bonus for managers, the Ecosystem Fund and the Fund for Nature.


Myriam Cohen-Welgryn, VP Nature Danone

Read more about Danone, its Sustainability objectives, its eco-system, innovation with partners and outlooks in this article.

1. The Danone Group

The Danone Group, headquartered in Paris, is specialised in “bringing health through food to as many people as possible”: Fresh dairy products, bottled waters, baby and medical nutrition. The company is a global player, it employs currently 81.000 people and generates an annual turnover of 15 billion EURO [1] 

Some of Danones world famous brands are Evian and Volvic (bottled waters), Bledina (baby food), Nutricia (medical nutricion) as well as Taillefine and Activia (dairy products).

Evian, Bledina, Taillefine : examples of famous Danone brands

Danones dual commitment to social progress and business success dates back to 1972. CEO Antoine Riboud declared at a meeting of the French employers Association (then CNPF, now MEDEF)

A company’s responsibility ‘does not end at the factory gate or the office door […]. The jobs they offer play a crucial role in shaping people’s lives […]. And through their use of natural resources and their direct environmental impact, businesses gradually change the planet we live on […]. But public opinion is there to keep us aware of our responsibilities in these areas […].’

2. Sustainability at Danone

Bringing health through food has been defined as a key mission for long. The company has extended this mission in 2006 to ‘Bringing health through food to as many people as possible’ [2], aiming to bring solutions to poverty and malnutrition on a world wide scale.

In 2008 Danone’s Executive Committee decided to set up a new Nature General Manager function for which Danone senior business managers were acquired, to bring in their business sense, communication skills and internal Danone network and set up a change plan.   

Mrs Cohen-Welgryn was appointed as Vice President Nature. Mrs Cohen was already known within Danone as a seasoned marketing and general manager. As of 2009, Mrs Cohen is now responsible for all environmental policies and projects within Danone. For instance, she has set up the extensive calculation projects for green house gas emissions, water and energy consumption with a customized tool (‘Danprint’). She is also involved in the Danone Fund for Nature that invests in carbon capture projects. As well, she is responsible for the internal awareness and communication campaigns to inform and mobilise Danone employees. Mrs Cohen heads a small team of specialists, and works in cooperation with people throughout the business units, of which 110 Carbon Champions (‘Armee Carbon Plan’), sponsors for the carbon footprint calculations.

Rational and emotional arguments are at stake when selling an idea or a product. As a marketing manager, Mrs Cohen-Welgryn is aware of this more than anyone else. Mrs Cohen-Welgryn and her team use all kinds of media, including newsletters and video messages to create awareness within the company on its sustainability goals and progress. Mrs Cohen-Welgryn believes that ‘you should treat this information just like the company’s financial objectives and performance : communicate on a regular basis, fact based. Hereby it is important to use rational arguments and numbers, but emotions count even so. In a recent internal video, children of the Danone Executive Committee Members were asking their parents and their colleagues to make sure that Danone takes responsibility and contributes to keep the planet a safe and healthy place. This video has made a great impact, says Mrs Cohen-Welgryn, because it was all about emotions and not just numbers.

3. Danones Sustainability Objectives

In 2008, the Danone Executive Committee has set the objectives ‘Health, For all, Nature and People’ as its priorities to transform and reinvent Danone within a perspective of sustainable growth :

3.1 Health  

Danone wants to strengthen its ability to bring health through food. The Danone Health Institute, as of 1991, is present in 19 countries. It is a not for profit organisation that aims to bring relevant scientific knowledge about diet to the attention of the general publicy linking scientists with business people.

3.2 For all

Danone wants to provide new business and economic models for quality nutritional solutions to people with low purchasing power in developing countries.

One of the vehicles to provide quality nutritional solutions is the Danone Communities Fund. The Danone Communities Fund was founded in 2007, after a meeting of Franck Riboud, the CEO of Danone, and Muhummed Yunus the inventor of the micro-credit. As a result, the first ‘Grameen’ factory has been set up in Bangladesh that produces affordable yogurts with added micronutrients (iodine, zinc, iron and vitamin A) and provides a basic living for small farmers.

In 2007, the Danone Communities Fund has become a so called ‘SICAV’, a managed fund by the French cooperative bank ‘Credit Agricole’. Shareholders and employees of Danone can participate in this fund, also called‘dividend social’. Already 2000 Danone employees do so. The Fund aims to raise the number of sponsored projects from 3 to 15 by 2012. It has a mandate to expand the Graheem diary plants in Bangladesh, as well as further develop other social projects like the ‘Laiterie du Berger’ in Senegal and the ‘1001 Fontaines project’ in Cambodia, in cooperation with local NGOs [3]

Milk collection in Dhaka of the Grameen Danone Foods, that produces 23000 yoghurts per year [4] for an affordable price, enriched with micronutrients, providing small milk producers a basic salary

A separate cross-functional structure ‘Base of the Pyramid’ has been set up as well. Inspired by the Indian born professor Pralahad, who presented is his ideas in his book : ‘Fortune at the bottom of the pyramid’[5], Danone has decided to play a role in the development of products that meet the needs of the 1.4 billion people that live around the blog below the poverty line of US 1,25 dollar per day. In line with its core business, Danone starts to develop nutrition solutions in India and Africa.

3.3. Nature  

Mrs Cohen-Welgryn explains that in order to provide health through food, Danone has only one choice but to protect the health of our natural environments in order to keep a sustainable business. Our natural environments are the source of our food. This logic thinking proves that, again, Danone activities are not ‘just charity’ or ‘doing good’, it has everything to do with risk management as well as maintaining and growing its business.

First of all, says Mrs Cohen-Welgryn : In order to reduce, measuring is key. Danone customized ‘Danprint tool’ helps to identify and track the progress in two key areas for Danone : C02 and Water

Secondly, one simple and easy to communicate objective had to be found. Carbon emission reduction was chosen. as a key ‘synthetic indicator’ that sums up most of the other environmental indicators : the ‘carbon intensity footprint’. The Board committed to a 30% decrease of the companies carbon footprint between 2008 and 2012 : a rather ambitious, even considered unrealistic target. Probably thanks to the ambitious target, simple changes were not sufficient and Danone business units were forced to reinvent their business processes. As a result emissions have dropped significantly and early 2011 Danone is right on track of its carbon emission target.

Thirdly, Danone is developing innovative ways of carbon capture to compensate carbon emissions. The Danone Fund for Nature was founded in 2008 to capitalize on the role of wetlands in carbon capture. One of the pilots is a pilot with replanting mangrove trees in Senegal, see picture. The trees provide an important natural source for the local community and a means to capture carbon. In 2010, 60 million trees have been replanted, capturing 300 000 tonnes of CO2 over the next 10 years. It will help Evian to achieve its goal of becoming carbon-neutral by 2011

The Danone Fund for Nature is a cooperation between Danone, the RAMSAR Convention and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature) (IUCN), supporting the Mangrove Forest Replantation in Senegal, an important means for carbon capture.

3.4. People

Within its ‘People’ strategy, Danone has created the Ecosystem Fund’.

The Danone Ecosystem Fund is designed to support, strengthen and develop the activity of  all stakeholders whose activities are impacted by Danone and who act closely with its local subsidiaries on economic, social and territorial matters, its ‘Eco-system’. The creation of the Fund was approved in April 2009 and financed by an initial donation of €100 million. As of 2010 onwards, up to 1% of Danone’s annual net profit will be contributed to the Fund for a period of 5 years[6]. Projects should meet the following criteria : initiated by a Danone subsidiary, creating economic and social value inside the Danones ecosystem, replicable and/or scalable, and created with a not for profit organisation.

An example is the Ukraine project: Danone Ukraine, Ukraine NGO Heifer and Danone Eco System Fund support small diary producers in the Ukraine to set up 20 cooperatives each with 60 to 80 smallholders, to develop their agricultural production. In the first phase it is expected that about 1000 farmers and families will see an improvement in quality of life and income (in this area about the lowest in the country, 80 Euros/month/person) [7]. .  

In Ukraine, Danone Ukraine, Local NGO Hiefer with Danone Ecosystem Fund help Ukraine milk farmers to set up and maintain their diary business with high quality products and financial stable income, that  increase their quality of live and reassures fresh diary supply to Danone, see video

4. Does sustainability drive innovation at Danone?  

As we have seen in the previous chapter, Danones philosophy drives innovation in all its varieties: In this chapter we give some more examples of specific product and business innovations initiated by Danone rooted in the companies Sustainability Mission.

Highly ambitious Carbon emission target: a necessary boost for business restructuring. Looking back, the simple but highly ambitious target of 30% carbon emission reduction that was set in 2008 has proven to be very constructive, says Mrs Cohen. No one could ‘just adapt a little bit here and there’, everybody needed to review and adapt its supply chain and production methods. The target has considerably boosted the companies change processes. Crucial to this change have proven to be the customized analysing tool (Danprint), Mrs Cohen is supporting 110 Carbon Soldiers’ in business units, so that everybody became aware of energy consumption and how to reduce it.  

Product packaging. Small quantity yogurts are used to be sold in small plastic cups with a cardboard around. Marketing and R&D managers of Danone’s Dairy division decided to change the packaging of some of the yoghurts and abandon, as a first step, the paper wrap. It did not serve a specific technical or hygienical purpose and the product information could also be printed on the cups. Despite the fact that retailers were sceptical (they believed that the general public wants its yoghurts in the old fashion packaging), Danone introduced its new Taillefine and Activia packaging without paper wraps. The new packaging has been very well accepted by the general audience and copied now by competitors. Mrs Cohen strongly believes that if producers offer product alternatives that are obviously better for the environment (for instance : less packaging), with an equal price, customers will choose the sustainable alternative.


New and former packaging of Danone Activia yoghurts.

Green Capex. To help unlock mental barriers and trigger innovations, Danone has initiated “green capex”, ie capital expenditure with longer payback leadtimes (5 years instead of 3 years) for projects with strong green benefits. This has generated a whole pipeline of innovations among which several green energy projects.

PET bottle recycling. In the footsteps of Mr Braungart who invented the ‘Cradle2cradle’ concept [8], Danone studies how to re-use products that are ‘end of life’, such as used PET bottles. A new opportunity is the re-use of PET bottles creating ‘rPET’ plastic bottles of washed and crushed PET bottles. At date, many ‘waste pickers’ in developing countries make a small basic living of picking up PET bottles and bringing it to recycling centres. Danone has started now PET recycling projects in Indonesia, Mexico and Argentina in close cooperation with the social entrepreneur NGO Ashoka and local partners. First of all, the picking and distribution process has been optimised. Secondly, Danone invests in the development of rPET bottles : The Danones Water Division has set its ambition of 35% of its production of water bottles based on rPET by 2011. The Mexican water brand of Danone called Bonafont has made a good start with a 100% rPET bottle in 2009, saving 20k tonnes of CO2/year. The Water Division moved from 4% in 2008 to 8% in 2009 and expects to reach 15% in 2010.

Recycling projects for PET bottles by Danone, Ashoka en local partners in Indonesia, Mexico and Argentina.

Carbon Emission Key Performance Indicators on carbon emissions are embedded in the company’s product development processes in the usual milestone checks (financial, commercial). In fact, these checks look similar to the checks and tollgates applied at Philips and AkzoNobel.

Bonus for the top 1400 executives of Danone. As of 2008, one third of the variable part of the salary of Danones Top 1400 is directly related to social and environmental objectives, one third the company’s financial objectives and one third individual performance goals. Mrs Cohen-Welgryn believes the introduction of the Bonus has been an essential step to make ‘dual focus’ top priority and ‘top of mind’.

5. Impact of the economic crises

How does the economic crisis influence the sustainability projects within Danone? Mrs Cohen-Welgryn says the sustainability projects remain key to Danone as they were. Danones CEO Franck Riboud says: The current crises is a triple crisis [9] : a social, environmental and financial crises. In order to cross this period, has decided to continue its focus on business and social objectives.

Danone stands firm to support the causes for people and planet, by continuing its programs and setting up new vehicles such as the Danone Ecosystem Fund and the Danone Nature Fund,

6. Trends and outlooks

Danone has shown a huge business transformation in the last few years, embedding new internal governance models, sustainability KPI’s, a green business and new business projects with the usually required return of investments (ROI) of less than 3 years, emphasizes Mrs Cohen.

How will the role of VP Nature, or more general ‘Sustainability Manager’, develop? Mrs Cohen-Welgryn believes that at date it is important that Sustainable Development is embedded at the heart of the company’s Business and delt with by managers with business background. 

Danone wants to continue its front leading role in sustainability.


I would like to thank Myriam Cohen-Welgryn for her cooperation.

More information on Danone and its dual project philosophy can be found on: and on the blog

To stay tuned on Sustainable Innovation within companies, NGOs and public institutions, I invite you to subscribe to the blog ’email subscription’, on the left hand side.

Jacobine Das Gupta, The Green Take, Paris.

[1]  ; [2]   Danone, 2009, Sustainability Report ; [3]  Danone, 2009, Sustainability Report ; [4] Terra Eco, Octobre 2010, Pourquoi Danone fait du yaourt social. P 20-23. ; [5]  Pralahad, 2004, ‘Fortune at the bottom of the pyramid’, ; [6]  CSR Europe, 2010, ; ; [7] ; [8]   McDonough, W and Braungart, M,  2002 : Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things. ; [9]  Danone 2009, Sustainability Report.

Wishing you an inspiring 2011

Thank you for your reviews, comments and ideas in 2010. To stay tuned in 2011 on new articles, do not hesitate to subscribe on the left hand side.

Among the blog entries in 2010 were articles on Best Practices of Sustainability within leading private, public and non-gouvernemental organisations throughout Europe, following interviews with senior managers, among them at Philips, DSM, Redevco, SAP, Eneco, Nokia, Shell, Bouygues Telecom, Ericsson, association ADN, the Dutch municipality of The Hague and Rotterdam Floating Pavilion, as well articles on measuring social impact, new CSR reporting rules in France and new social impact product labels.

Sparkling little LEDlights on the Champs Elysées, December 2010, Paris.

I wish you an inspiring, healthy and  prosperious 2011. I look forward to continue our cooperation and exchange.

The Green Take. Implementing Sustainable Innovation.

French Ministery of Ecologie now lead by Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet

Sarkozy has presented his new team of ministers for his third presidency season. As not unusual in France, ministeries, responsibilities and ministers have been reshuffled.  Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, a former secretary of state for Ecology has been appointed as Minister of Ecology.


Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet and ‘Passage de Pouvior’ of Borloo to Kosciusko-Morizet

Jean-Francois Borloo has been dismissed with the appointment of Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet. French associations and NGO’s welcome Nathalie Kosciusko-Monet (or ‘NKM’)  for her competences and drive. She has extensive experience in public services, among others as (adjoint) major of Paris suburb cities and secretary of state of Ecology (2007-2009).

Smaller scope. The main concern of French NGO’s and associations is related to the fact that the importance and scope of the ministery (once nr 2 now nr 4 in the government) has been strongly decreased. This raises the fear that the ambitious Grenelle Environnement Plans, stimulating sustainable development in all industry sectors, will not have significant momentum against other forces, such as the nucleair industry..  

Once a Super Ministery… In 2007, the Super Ministery Ecologie, Environment, Climate Discussions, Sea, Green Technologies and Energie was created by Sarkozy and lead by Jean-Francois Borloo as the most important ministery in France, in response to Nicolas Hulot  ‘Pacte Ecologie’, signed by 750.000 people in France.

Now just Ecologie.. Mrs Kosciusko-Morizet will inheret now in 2010, a Ministery that has been decreased. She will ‘only’ supervise Ecologie, Sustainable Development, Transport and Housing. She will be notably busy with the implementation of the 257  new articles of the new Grenelle Environnement 2.

Energie moves to Economie. Remarkable is the choice of moving ‘Energie’ to the ministery of Economie lead by Christine Lagarde. People fear that it will be difficult for France to keep its commitments for a maximum of green house gas emissions and its development of renewable energies. It does not help that new ministers like Patrick Ollier (relations avec parliament) are rather right-wing, pro-nucleair and not in favourite of wind energy.

Sceptical NGO’s. Pascal Husting, Director Greenpeace France, repeats his comments following the Grenelle de l’Environnement presentations : he believes that Sarkozy and Fillon have not kept their promises and engagements with respect to the environment. He fears that government Sarkozy/Fillon 3 (3rd season) will be even worse.. Arnaud Gossement of ‘Les Amis de la Terre’ points out that the Superministery has been beheaded and that it will be much more difficult to take governmental decisions in favour of ecologie now the related topics are spread. 

Worry. French people in favour of Sustainable Development are rather worried that the ambitious plans of the Grenelle de l’Environnement will slow down, or worse, reverse, avec this new governmental elan. Time for a new Pacte Ecologique ?

Implementation of Grenelle de l’Environnement. ‘Sur et certain’, Mrs Kosciusko-Morizet will need all support, inside the government, from industry and associations to implement the Grenelle de l’Environnement !  

Sources :

Bouygues Telecom launches new mobile phone recycling services

Bouygues Telecom has embedded Sustainable Development throughout its operational and commercial activities. Sustainable Procurement, Green Data Centers and Sustainable Customer Solutions are now common business. The recently launched new mobile phone recycling service is a good example matching the request of enterprises for products that help to reduce their environmental impact.  


 Pascale Auguste-Moyon (Manager CSR) and Gaël Sérandour (Manager Innovation and Business Partners and responsible for the new B2B telephone recycling services) at Bouygues Telecom

Bouygues Telecom is provides mobile and fixed Télécom and Internet services. With 9.000 employees, it generates an annual turnover of 5,4 billion euro. Bouygues Telecom has 10,4 million customers for mobile services and 500.000 customers for Internet/fixed services (numbers June 2010). Bouygues Telecom is 89,5% owned by the Bouygues Group, to which also the companies Bouygues Immobilier, Bouygues Construction and COLAS belong. 

1. How are Sustainability activities organised at Bouygues Telecom?

The team ‘Environnement et ‘Développement Durable’ (EDD) is responsible for transversal coordination of sustainability projects through the organisation as well as the CSR reporting obligations (‘NRE’ laws for listed companies, as the Bouygues Group is one of the French 40 largest listed companies). The team is part of the staff department ‘Innovation and Architecture Services’.

Pascale Auguste-Moyon is Manager of the EDD team. Mrs Auguste-Moyon has been working since 1998 for Bouygues Telecom in different roles before becoming responsible for Environmental Affairs in 2002, a responsibility that was renamed to ‘Environment and Sustainable Development’ in 2004. Laurent Guidat is one of the team members and project manager for Sustainability projects.

The EDD team works in close cooperation with other departments, such as facility management, the network department, marketing and corporate philanthropy (Mécénat). Gaël Sérandour is Manager Innovation and Business Partners within the Marketing department and responsible for the new device recycling services. Guillaume Mariau has been responsible until recently for devices in the purchase department. Céline Filet is leading the companies corporate philantrophy activities.

Mrs Auguste-Moyon sets out that sustainability have become increasingly important as of 2003, when Bouygues Telecom signed the Global Compact (2003), extensive Risk Analyses were made (2004), the first external social audits were carried out among suppliers (2003) and the first Carbon Footprint Calculations were made across the value chain (2007). These audits and analyses have been key to the growing awareness within Bouygues Telecom of all social and environmental perimeters, explains Mrs Auguste-Moyon.

The EDD team is never imposing but always assisting and accompanying the other departments.. Mr Guidat adds that the team always tries to find ‘champions’ in each department who are already receptive to environmental and social matters. These champions are key to mobilise the whole company, even the sceptical or indifferent ones.

Corporate Philanthropy (Mécénat) is a separate activity within Bouygues Telecom. These activities are not directly linked with the operational business. The corporate philantrophy activities play however an important role, notably with respect to the awareness of Bouygues Telecom employees of social responsibility. The Bouygues Telecom Foundation, created in 2006, is supporting corporate philantrophie in 3 domains :

1. Environment. Bouygues Telecom is partner of Nicolas Hulot Foundation as of 2005 to help mobilising French consumers on environmental issues, like with the website ‘Defi pour la Terre’; See also the earlier article describing the determining role of Nicolas Hulot in prompting for new Sustainable Development governance in France)

2. Medical-social : Wishes of ill children are fulfilled in cooperation with the Association Petit Prince  Think about a meeting with Zidane, a French football player, or a balloon trip.

3. Culture. Bouygues Telecom strives for the conservation and support of the French language. It has created a price for the best new French writer that will be supported with publishing his or her first book. Condition : the writer should use SMS language in a part of the book.


Bouygues Telecom Foundation supports Environment, Medical-social and Culture projects, of which the Surfrider Foundation cleanups (Beach & Riverside cleaning action – 160 volonteers in 2010) and the 2nd Edition of ‘Nouveau Talent’, encouraging Young Writers to write their first French novel.

The Mécénat activities are not directly related to the Bouygues Telecom business, but they are in fact very important for the internal motivation for social and environmental responsibility. Celine Filet explains that these activities make the employees being proud of Bouygues Telecom and very thankful and happy to do something that directly contributes to their neighbourhood or environment.

2. What are the Sustainability Objectives of Bouygues Telecom ?

The Sustainability Objectives at Bouygues Telecom are driven by market requirements, legislation and the Bouygues Group mission, based on the idea that Sustainable Development can be a source of new opportunities.

The following objectives with respect to Environmental Issues have been defined :

  1. Reduce the Environmental Footprint (for example, CO2 emissions reduced by 52% in 2009 compared to 2008 for the “Caravane du Tour de France cycliste”)
  2. Manage the Electricity and Paper Consumption (energy consumption of buildings lowered with 4 25% in 2009 compared to 2005)
  3. Collect and recycle waste (recycling service for telephones)
  4. Sustainable Building Development (all new buildings should carry the French HQE label, more about HQE see also Bouygues Immobilier article)

The following objectives are set with respect to Social Responsibility :

  1. Securing personal security and health of Bouygues Telecom employees
  2. Guiding and assisting users, parental protection
  3. Competence development and diversity
  4. Developing products adapted to special needs of handicapped people
  5. Sustainable Purchase Guidelines to reassure good social conditions

 With respect to corporate governance, Bouygues Telecom has set objectives and indicators for quality management, risk management, continuous Innovation and exchanges with stakeholders.

3. Is Sustainability a driver for Innovation at Bouygues Telecom ?

Certainly, at Bouygues Telecom, Sustainability is a motor for process and product development, confirm Mrs Auguste-Moyon and Mr Serandour. A number of new processes and products of Bouygues Telecom are results of this. In the next paragraph, the following examples will be set out : 1. new green data centers, 2. sustainable purchase policies, 3. new products, such as the business services ‘eco-amplitude’ and the new mobile recycling offer for enterprises.

3.1. Green Data Centers

The Bouygues Data Centers are currently being renovated to reduce energy consumption, by using new principles of ventilation and smart placement of server placement. In addition, new data centers are being built according to latest sustainability standards, such as in Montigny-le-Bretonneaux a complete new Green Data center has been opened. Bouygues Telecom also participates in working groups to define the new HQE Data Center label for Green Data centers.

Bouygues Telecom new data centre in Montigy-le-Bertonneaux (78).

3.2. Sustainable Procurement

Sustainable Procurement has become part of daily business of the Purchase Department. Social audits have been realised since 2003,. Social responsibility indicators have now become part of daily business as Bouygues Telecom started to use a special social responsibility supplier dashboard as of 2007 of ‘Eco-Vadis’.

Mobile handset and accessories vendors are very important to Bouygues Telecom with respect to environmental footprint. Guillaume Mariau has been B2B product manager of mobile terminals until recently. All mobile phones contain certain precious metals and consume quite some energy during manufacturing cycle, resulting in a substantial eco-footprint, according to Mariau. And it is rather difficult to balance the growing demand for multi-performing smart-phones with lower energy performance.

Enterprises start now to ask for telephones with a lower environmental footprint, themselves being mobilised by their customers, their employees and by legislation (new French laws will oblige all midsize and larger companies with to calculate a yearly GreenHouseGas Emission Summary). Guillaume Mariau hopes that there will be a day that we could call with, let’s say, sand. Until that day,  mobile vendors will improve step by step their handset designs and ban precious metals and toxic parts. Such as the 2008/2009 models Sony Ericsson ‘Naite’ and Nokia ‘3110 Evolve’.

Sony Ericsson Naite and Nokia Evolve, 2008/2009 models with usual functionalities aubt a smaller environmental footprint than comparable mobile phones.

3.3. Services that help customers to reduce and manage their Footprint

A third group of Innovation examples are new products that have been developed in response to a growing customer need for products and services with a smaller environmental footprint with information on this footprint. For instance, the ‘Eco-amplitude’ program and the new recycling services :

Eco-amplitude’ has been launched in 2009. anticipating on needs of the large enterprise customers Its characteristics are :

  • Customers can profit from a cost reduction of 15% on subscriptions, accepting a longer subscription period (36 months). than usual in France (24 months).
  • Customers can choose one of the mobile phones with a relatively smaller environmental impact (such as the Nokia Evolve, Sasmung E200 Eco or Sony Ericsson Naite).
  • International visits can be minimised by using the special low international phone tariffs and conference call services, part of the service.
  • A universal charger is being offered with solar panel
  • Phones can be recycled and GHG emissions are compensated  


Eco-Amplitude : Large customers are supported to reduce their environmental footprint with advantageous international phone tariffs, eco-designed phones, an universal charger and CO2 compensation via Eco-Act

Recently, in 2010, a new recycling Services has recently been introduced in France. Gaël Sérandour, Innovation and Business Partner Manager of Bouygues Telecom Enterprise Markets explains that this new service is available for all business customers: from the very large to the small and medium sized enterprise (SME).

  • Business customers willing to recycle their mobile phones, can enter the necessary data easily at a special web services of Bouygues Telecom.
  • The old phone can be sent by post to the recycling centre, Ateliers du Bocage, part of the Emmaus Foundation, employing people that have difficulties to find work elsewhere (3).
  • At the Ateliers du Bocage, the phones are tested, if possible refurbished or recycled.
  • The company that is using the service will receive a receipt with information on the recycled phones as well as the CO2 footprint calculations.
  • Generated net revenues by the recycling act are transferred to Eco-Act for its reforestation projects tot reduce environmental impact.


The new recycling services of the Enterprise Division of Bouygues Telecom allow business customers to send old phones via post to the recycling center, participate in reforestation projects and obtain an environmental footprint summary.

Gaël Sérandour summarizes that this new service fulfils the need of a growing number of business customers that wishes to reduce its environmental footprint, but has been searching for an easy method to recycle their telephones. The carbon footprint calculation summary comes as an extra service, which is very welcome for all companies with more than 500 employees that are soon obliged to track their GHG emissions.

4        What are outlooks for Sustainability, notably at Bouygues Telecom?

New initiatives are currently being developed in Bouygues Telecom, and other will follow. To name a few : new subscription services without hardware, car-sharing projects for employees (among them in Meudon), renovation project of existing data centre services and mobile phone recycling services also for the consumer market, in the retail stores.

Sustainable Development will be more and more embedded in all business roles, expects Mrs Auguste-Moyon : Eco-Design will be embedded in Product Development and Marketing, Sustainable Purchasing will become the de facto standard in the Purchase Department, Non-financial indicators will be equally important as Financial Performance Indicators, and so on.

Sources : 1 http://www.institutionnel.bouyguesTélé

2. http://www.institutionnel.bouyguesTélé

3. Press release Bouygues Telecom Entreprise 3 juin 2010 ‘Bouygues Telecom Entreprise facilite le recyclage des mobiles pour toutes les entreprises’.

ADN orchestrates non-food surplus donation to French charities

The ‘Agence de Don et Nature’ (ADN) has become thé intermediary trusted partner between donating enterprises and certified associations in France. Enterprises can donate their unsold goods for the good cause, reassured that items will not be resold. Associations are happy to receive goods against a small financial compensation.. A promising new organisation in France based on a not-for-profit principle inspired by Gifts in Kind International (1).


Stéphanie Goujon, Chief Executive Agence de Don et Nature

Yearly, 400 million euro non-food goods are being destroyed in France (Study AT Kearney Office 2009). Companies are searching for proper destinations of their industrial surplus, but want to be guaranteed that the items are not being resold for legal reasons. They also want to be reassured that the associations that can be trusted. How to find these NGO’s ?

8 million French people live below the poverty line having less than 30 euro per year to spend (study of INSEE in 2009). A few hundred NGOs and Associations are supporting these people in France. NGO’s need money for their activities, but as well.. office furniture, paper, clothes, cleaning products, and so on. Where to find the generous companies that could help them out ?

Organisation Agence du Don en Nature

‘Agence du Don en Nature’ was created in April by a group of French social entrepreneurs, supported by the foundations of Carrefour, l’Oréal and Leyton & Associés, inspired by the American ‘Gifts in Kind International’. It has quickly become known in France as the intermediary logistics organisation, not-for-profit, that matches the needs of charities and offer of non-sold items of enterprises.

AND is run by CEO Stéphanie Goujon. Mrs Goujon has a background in the Fast Moving Consumer Goods sector (P&G, Danone and Unilever). She works in close cooperation with a team of highly qualified volunteers of different backgrounds like private equity, supply chain, HR and Internet.

It became soon obvious that ADN would need a place to store the goods of donating enterprises at a secure place and not too far from Paris where most associations are located. With help of partners Groupe SOS and Fairplace, ADN found a storage of 4000m2 and 5000 palets in Chambly-sur-Oise which is just 30 minutes by car from Paris Gare du Nord.

Agence Don et Nature warehouse of 4000 m2 a Chambly-sur-Oise (60)

Since the start in 2009, already 20 corporate and 38 charity partners have signed up. Last year, products with a value of 6,4 million euro have collected, 2,4 million euros in products have been donated, and between 50,000 and 100,000 people have received the goods via the charities in France.

Benefits for the partner associations

If associations needed clothes, paper or shampoo in earlier times, they were counting on personal relationships between founding partners and enterprise directors. It these relationships resulted in the supply of some goods, the better. Unfortunately, often the right product could not be found, had been already send to the landfill. Or contacts within the enterprises were lacking at all.

ADN allows associations to express their needs for specific products and does all efforts to match this need with the offer of non-sold items from the donating companies. An online product catalogue is available. It can be used to make an order and get the goods delivered. Only a small financial contribution is asked to cover logistic expenses. 


The ADN website has a ‘product catalogue’ which shows the actual stock and latest specific items offered by the donating entreprises.

Charities are very enthusiastic. They can now precise their specific needs like ‘toothpaste’ or ‘children underwear’, instead of ‘cleaning products’ or ‘clothes’. The associations only pay a small financial compensation for the logistics costs. A volunteer of ADN makes sure the products are delivered from ADN warehouse to the charities head office within 7 days. 

Association partner contract guarantee that items won’t be resold. ADN signs partner contracts with the adhering charities. Among the conditions are the guarantee that items will not be resold, but only used by the volunteers and benefitting people of the association.


Partner Charities of Agence du Don en Nature

Benefits for donating entreprises

Many companies start to remodel their Supply Chains to minimize their stock and unsold goods. Despite these studies, enterprises have to admit it seems inevitable that enterprises maintain to produce goods that end up unsold. 

CSR and Sustainability Policies make people realise that it may be a good idea to donate the surplus of brand new goods to charities instead of destroying it.

The Agence du Don en Nature guarantees the donating enterprises that goods won’t be resold on the market and supply a yearly transport report of the destination of the goods. Enterprises are happy to report this in their respective annual Sustainability Report. They can also profit from tax deductions in some cases, though this is certainly not the most important requisite, according to Stéphanie Goujon.

Entreprise partners are very satisfied by ADN services.l’Agence du Don en Nature offers [us] various advantages. As a logistics specialist, she has implemented [both] ethical and transparency parameters [by partner association contracts] which guarantees us from a legal point of view that products are distributed to the right people (4).

Partner Corporates of Agence du Don en Nature

What are outlooks for Agence du Don en Nature ?

One of the key success factors is the high involvement of the donating and founding companies, such as Coca Cola, HSBC, Groupe SEB, ATKearney and Price Waterhouse Coopers, explains Stéphanie Goujon. Supply chain directors and consultancies offer their expertise to set up the logistics and distribution chain. Without this support the association would not be so efficient and successful, Mrs Goujon acknowledges. She is therefore keen on carefully maintaining these partnership relations as ADN keeps growing in the coming years.

Supply-demand balance. Some products are over-asked and currently under-supplied. For instance baby nappies, sleeping bags, socks and baby clothes are very much demanded by the charities, whereas potentials suppliers seem to have found alternative destinations. A new initiative steered by a group of Science Po students (French University of Technology) is the Ambassador Program aiming to understand better the association needs and notably find new donating enterprises for the most required products. This initiative will certainly help to improve the match between the donated goods and requested products.

Ambitious Goals. With all these activities going on, ADN has set itself ambitious goals : By 2011 it wants to help 1 million French people by 2011 by distributing goods representing a value of 10 million euros.

French enterprises and associations are invited to learn about the program and join : : ‘Moins de gaspillage – plus de partage’ or :  ‘Less wasting- more sharing’.  

Sources : 1. Presentation AND may 2010, 2. Site ADN :, 3. Supply Chain Magazine ‘ADN, une chaîne efficace entre donateurs et associations, 4. Moins de gaspillage, plus de partage’, Rapport d’activité Responsable 2009.