WBA said its CSR strategy is largely focused on health care initiatives, particularly access and affordability, due to the nature of the company’s pharmacy and wellbeing business. Working with partner organizations the company said it has helped provide vitamins and minerals to more than 160 million children and women, and more than 34 million vaccines to children in the developing world.
“As a pharmacy-led global company we have a tremendous opportunity to change the world for better,” said Ornella Barra, WBA co-chief operating officer and chairman of the Corporate Social Responsibility Committee. “Through our health-centered initiatives we have had a positive impact on millions of people in the communities we serve and in underserved areas across the planet. We believe that we can drive business results while benefitting society and that is why we have embedded CSR in everything we do.”
The report was released at the Boots UK support office in Nottingham, coinciding with the celebration of 170 years since Boots was founded. Over this time Boots UK has pioneered CSR work in many areas, such as product sustainability, community partnerships and sustainability reporting.
Partnerships have been a core WBA strategy for delivering health benefits for its communities, customers and employees. In keeping with this approach, Boots UK also announced Tuesday new and expanded CSR partnerships:
- A new partnership with The Prince’s Trust aims to increase employment opportunities for young people across the UK, by supporting them to develop skills for the workplace and by providing in-store opportunities.
- An extension of its partnership with WE – a family of organizations that helps a generation of young people in Nottingham fulfill their potential. The UK WE Schools program offers young people the opportunity to develop their personal wellbeing and workplace readiness through social action. In November 2019, Boots and WE will host the first WE Day Community Nottingham youth celebration event.
WBA achieved a number of sustainability milestones in the 12 months that ended August 31, 2018. Highlights in the company’s 2018 CSR Report include:
- Opioid abuse prevention: Walgreens expanded its efforts to combat overdose-related deaths. Between May 2016 and August 2018, Walgreens safe medication disposal kiosk program collected and safely disposed more than 410 tons of unused and unwanted medication to curb the abuse of prescription drugs.
- Dementia awareness: Boots UK continued to work with Dementia Friends – an Alzheimer’s Society initiative to change people’s perceptions and understanding of dementia. Boots has helped to create more than 38,000 Dementia Friends, people with an understanding of what it can be like to live with dementia. There is at least one Dementia Friend in every Boots store in Great Britain, to help people who shop at Boots stores feel safe, calm and comfortable.
- Cancer programs: the company extended its partnership with the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) with a commitment to raise €5 million by 2023 to further advance its joint goals of providing better treatment and quality of life for people with cancer, in addition to the more than €5 million raised previously. Also, this year Boots UK is celebrating its 10-year anniversary of working with Macmillan Cancer Support. Boots UK employees and customers have raised more than £16.6 million ($25.1 million) for Macmillan Cancer Support as of August 31, 2018.
- Emissions reduction and waste initiatives: WBA has reduced its carbon footprint by 15.3% since fiscal 2016, the baseline year for the company’s CSR performance data. In fiscal 2018 Walgreens distribution facilities in the U.S. and Puerto Rico diverted 93% of waste from landfills. Walgreens also diverted more than 3.4 million pounds of safe and unused toiletries, food and household items from landfills by donating the items to Feeding America.
- Product transparency: WBA has implemented a chemicals management program to assess and restrict the use of certain chemicals and ingredients in products it sells and provide greater transparency for consumers.