Andrea Murphy is currently serving as Director of Environmental Affairs and Sustainability for Panasonic North America. She believes we all have a valuable role to play when it comes to impacting the world around us and is proud to be part of the team at Panasonic working towards the company’s corporate mission of making the world a better place. Panasonic’s renewable energy plans will help create a more sustainable future for its employees, customers and local communities.
John Shegerian: Have you been enjoying our Impact podcast and our great guests, then please give us a thumbs up and leave a 5-star review on iTunes, Google Play, or wherever you consume your favorite podcasts. This edition of The Impact Podcast is brought to you by ERI. ERI has a mission to protect people, the planet, and your privacy and is the largest fully integrated IT and electronics asset disposition provider and cybersecurity-focused hardware destruction company in the United States and maybe even the world. For more information on how ERI can help your business properly dispose of outdated electronic hardware devices, please visit eridirect.com. This episode of the Impact Podcast is brought to you by Closed Loop Partners. Closed Loop Partners is a leading circular economy investor in the United States with an extensive network of Fortune 500 corporate investors, family offices, institutional investors, industry experts, and impact partners. Closed loop platform spans the arc of capital, from venture capital to private equity bridging gaps and fostering synergies to scale the circular economy. To find Closed Loop Partners, please go to www.closelooppartners.com.
John: Welcome to another edition of The Impact Podcast. I’m so excited and honored to have with us today, Andrea Murphy. She’s the director of Office of Environmental Affairs and Sustainability for Panasonic North America. Welcome to the Impact Podcast, Andrea.
Andrea Murphy: Thank you so much, John. I love your energy.
John: Well, it’s always fun and it’s always energizing to have a fellow New Jerseyan on the Impact podcast with me. Of course, you’re representing one of my favorite and great brands. Also, truth in advertising, a longtime client of ERI’s. We’ll get into that later. We’re not talking about ERI we’re talking about Panasonic today. But before we get talking about all the important and great things that you and your colleagues are doing at Panasonic North America and sustainability, I’d love to hear a little bit about your backstory, where you grew up, how you got on this journey of sustainability, who inspired you and how you even got here.
Andrea: Thank you for that opportunity, John. I actually really enjoy talking about my journey because I don’t think my journey was very typical for where I am now. If you could imagine a long string, like a piece of yarn that a cat’s been playing with, with so many twists and turns and tangles, I think that’s my career journey that led me here. I grew up in New Jersey, always knew I wanted to do something with the sciences and I think along the way I failed a few times. I’ve changed course and I’ve certainly gotten out of my comfort zone. I especially like to share that because it’s good to say that out loud that it’s okay if you fail as long as you’re able to make that pivot and do something beneficial and not get stuck with it. I had a pretty diverse career, but that first twist and turn I experienced in college. I went to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and it was very popular when I went to school, Marine biology, it was a big field and like everyone else I wanted to save the dolphins, I wanted to swim with them and save them. So I started that program and they put everyone that passed all the entry-level classes in a room at the end of second year and they said, “Okay, if you’re serious about marine biology, you’re going to need to spend a year on a research marine vessel, and you’re going to have to go straight to graduate school.” I was like, all right, I see why they put all of us in a room, I’m out of here. This is not for me. So I started looking at other majors. I was always good with numbers, good with finance. So I was like, oh, I’ll do accounting. Most boring set of classes I could ever imagine. So I found myself that I needed to graduate in 4 years, that’s all the funding that I had and there was 1 major that I can graduate in, in the 4 years because of all the science core classes I took and that was environmental science. Hadn’t heard of it, had no idea what it was, but I was like, all right, at least I get my college degree. So I majored in environmental science, and when I started taking the upper-level specific classes, fell in love with it. It was so interesting, I just enjoyed going to school, I enjoyed learning, and I was like, wow, this is great. So that was lesson number one for me. If I didn’t fail, if I didn’t give up [inaudible] and I didn’t pursue that marine biology, I would’ve never fallen into the career I am now. I think I’m really lucky that the school I had actually had a major in it because at that time that’s pretty rare. I acknowledge that that’s really changed now and there are very specific specializations you can get your master’s in sustainable supply chain management, for instance. But all of that is pretty new. So was the first twist and turn I took. I spent a lot of time in the consulting world. I had worked for local government and I knew that my dream was always to work for a large corporation. I liked the structure of a corporation. I liked to be in an office as opposed to fieldwork. So that was a goal of mine. I wound up working for a large telecommunication company here in the US starting out in their environmental compliance division and that company really promoted you if you were looking to try new things. So somebody was like,” oh, hey, I think you’d be good in this project management role.” So for 4 years, I was a project manager and they were like, “Oh, if you want to move up in the company, you got to try finance.” I was like, oh, back to numbers, right? I got to do this. So I did a year in finance and I wound up being in merchandising and you think, how did I go from environmental science to merchandising and back to it. I started mentoring a couple of French children, people who were interested in the environmental science field, and one girl in particular she wanted to do like smart cities and she was an engineer. I was telling her “If you want to do this, you’ve got to follow organizations that do that on LinkedIn, you’ve got to go volunteer places, you’ve got to continuously learn.” I’m listening to all this advice I’m giving her. I’m like, what am I doing in merchandising? Like how did I get here? Why did I take this turn? So I really sought out Panasonic for me. I said, I’ve got to get back into the field that I studied, that I have history in. So I was looking at a bunch of different companies, and when I found Panasonic and I found this role, I thought it was amazing.[inaudible] I was like, wow, this is a great company. I did my research, I checked out what they were doing, they had really big aspirations, they had data to prove it. So I took that leap. I came back into the environmental science field. I was happy that Panasonic accepted me because I had spent quite a lot of time out of that field and I was able to get back into it. I’m able to be with a company who’s main purpose is to develop products that improve society, that’s the goal. So in my department in environmental affairs, I get to be part of that. I get to strategize with the sales teams and I get to see the changes that make a big impact in the sustainability world.
John: Got you. You sit right now in the New Jersey offices. You work out in the New Jersey offices, right?
Andrea: That’s right. Our headquarters is in Newark, New Jersey. Beautiful office.
John: We were talking off the air before we got started. We both have a common mentor and good friend and that would be Dave Thompson. Who when I got in the business 20 or so years ago, Dave was already at Panasonic. He was Mr. Panasonic. He was also one of the OGs in sustainability and I’ll tell you what, I don’t know if anyone influenced me more and inspired me more than Dave Thompson. He was not only a kind and caring leader. He was super bright, and he also left room, which is so wonderful for disagreement and trying to find common ground, but left space so everyone could share their opinion and didn’t vilify anybody for that. Just let all the best ideas percolate to the top and then took that and tried to be one of the great leaders in sustainability, which he ended up being in terms of getting legislation passed and making really the first major changes in sustainability when it came to electronics and responsible electronic recycling in North America. I don’t know if anyone has left a bigger footprint and thumbprint on my career in sustainability or responsible recycling than David Thompson. So I hold a very special place in my heart and in my soul for David. Talk a little bit about your experience with David.
Andrea: I love hearing what you’re saying and I agree with you 100% , so wise he was a person who understood the details of it. Because you have to be technical in that role. You’ve got to understand the manufacturing process. You’ve got to understand chemicals and how they work. Technically I guess with e-waste, right? What makes up e-waste? And can you break that down into components that are able to be extracted and recycled or reused? But he also had that vision just as you were saying, he saw the big picture and he knew that he couldn’t develop something alone. His big focus I’d say is multi-stakeholder. To get everyone in on the table, If we’re talking e-waste, you want the manufacturers, you want the recyclers, you want the end users, you want government. He just didn’t see it from one point of view. I think your words were perfect to describe him. He really took everything and was able to put it all together and make great suggestions and policies. He also cared, he was very passionate about natural resources and conservation. He was very passionate about not being wasteful and I think that showed in everything he did and the challenges that he was willing to tackle when he saw battery legislation or e-waste legislation starting to be formed, he jumped right in and said, “Hey, how can we make this better?” So it really was a pleasure for me. I was able to work with him for 4 years and learn from him. I just hope I’ll carry on his legacy.
John: You will, I’m sure. I hope to do the same. I traveled with him. We went and lobbied in different states together in Dave’s way of building consensus and making a bigger tent, not a smaller one and not being polarizing, building bridges. It was just unique and really, like I said, what left an indelible mark on me and I hope to carry some of his skills and thoughtfulness forward in what I do and that’s one of the reasons I do the show. It’s because I’ve got to meet so many great people because of this show and you can learn so much from all and share their knowledge with a greater audience. I think it’s so important because unfortunately, mainstream media is just not really that into it right now because It doesn’t sell soap[?]. So but anyway[crosstalk]
Andrea: I think we’re getting there. I think we’re at a changing point, because when I started in my career, people would say,” What do you do? I don’t understand, what does that mean?” And now they’re like,” That’s so cool. Oh I totally get that.” So at least there’s awareness[?]
John: That’s very true. You are the cool mom now, you are the cool professional now. You definitely have the cool position now, when Dave and I were out slugging it out of the legislatures in 2004, 2005 maybe we weren’t the coolest guys. We were the sort of the oddballs back then. But now for sure, sustainability is here to stay and sustainability is definitely on a new level of coolness in terms of making the world a better place. For our listeners and viewers who just joined us, we’ve got Andrea Murphy with us. She’s the director of the Office of Environmental Affairs and Sustainability at Panasonic North America. To find Andrea and her colleagues in all the important work they’re doing in sustainability. Please go to na.panasonic.com. Andrea, talk a little bit about Panasonic North America’s approach and its responsibility towards the environment and communities it operates in around North America. What’s the philosophy and mission that is the greater macro driving force behind what you do and how you lead your team?
Andrea: So John, that philosophy is something that is ingrained in Panasonic’s culture, and it’s something that’s not changed in the 100 years that we’ve been in business. The culture follows what we call the 7 basic principles. The very first principle is contribution to society. When you read about the history of our founder, he wanted to make products that improve society. That was his only goal and it’s amazing to me that has not changed in all this time. When I started I noticed that these 7 basic principles, they were printed on the back of our business cards. They were painted on the walls and honestly, I kind of took that with a grain of salt. I was like, okay, right. This is what the company’s telling me is our mission. our creed fine[?] But after a couple of months, I realized that this was real and every employee I met, they engaged with those principles. They used it to determine how they were going to act each day and what actions or decisions that they were going to make and I was really impressed with that. That’s one of the reasons that I am so happy at Panasonic, is I see that this fundamental goal has not changed through all these years. So our approach has always been the same. It’s to develop products that are going to have a positive impact in the world, and to do it in a sustainable manner. I think what has changed are the products that we make. Our first product was, it was this dual socket that allowed you to have a light bulb and an electric appliance running at the same time. That was groundbreaking back then. So now we’re making different things. We’re making things that create energy or products that store energy. So we make solar panels, hydrogen fuel cells heat pumps, and I guess, of course, batteries.
John: Well, let’s not overlook the big success that you’ve had in Tesla success.
Andrea: Yes. I think no secret that we are the largest EV battery manufacturer here in North America. That’s a big business and we’re so excited to be able to help electrify the transportation industry and get us to a carbon neutral state.
John: What I learned in my travels as CEO of ERI, Andrea, and you tell me if you’ve seen this yourself because I know you’ve traveled as well in your position. When I’ve gone over to Asia or Europe, especially to Japan and South Korea, and then Germany and England and other parts of Europe. What I started recognizing that I didn’t know as a younger person was that the size and geography that Japan was limited to, made them, as you said, in the 100-year history, Panasonic was culturally thinking about sustainability because it wasn’t just a throwing go society. They realized they had limited space for landfills. So they learned and taught themselves how to be more sustainable in terms of the circular economy way before it was cool.
Sustainability is only a new thing here in North America, in the last 15 years and really on fire, the last 3 or 4, whereas in Japan and South Korea, it’s culturally part of their society for the last 60, 70 years.
Andrea: That’s such a great point. That’s very true. I think we take for granted what we have here in North America because there’s land. There’s open space, and they don’t have as much of that in Japan. So they have to be really careful with what they extract and make sure they’re not causing damage. They also have to preserve the resources and I think it was much later that, that hit us in North America when we started to have endangered species, either plants or animals from our activities because it took too long for us to start to see it. But you’re right that’s so big in Japan and that culture even for us here in North America, that’s still a big part of our culture.
John: It’s true. Because it’s easy to just dig more landfills and have that go and throw culture. Whereas there, they really learned very early and it’s been so inspiring and also a lot of lessons learned from our partners around the world that we’ve now used here in North America. Hopefully more people will also start studying those learnings and culture as well. Folks that sit in your position, Andrea, have different ways of measuring success and sustainability and with regards to algorithms and sustainability initiatives, many folks in your seat have sustainability on a very narrow basis, look at sustainability and many look at it on a wide basis. Talk a little bit about some of your KPI’s, Key Performance Indicators that you use with your team at Panasonic North America to track your progress in your sustainability journey.
Andrea: Sure. Sustainability is such an interesting term nowadays. It can mean so many things.
Andrea: So I guess as I talk about it, I’m going to consider the whole realm. I, I think sustainability is the full realm of ESG, Environment Social Governance, CSR. So for me, it’s like everything together. So it’s chemical compliance, removing hazardous chemicals from our products, it’s also net zero, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. So I’m going to talk about it in a whole and Panasonic [inaudible] goes back to it being like part of our core values. Right now it’s a hot topic, and as you said, a lot of companies are, are starting to report it. We’ve been publicly doing our sustainability reporting since 1999. That’s a long time ago. So we’ve always had goals that we were willing to put out in the public and share our progress on. For as long as I’ve been at the company and for as long as I think I’ve read any report or know we’ve had goals for our factories. Our factories are very efficient that’s another thing that they do really well in Japan. They are big on efficiency, that they are not wasteful. So we’ve had a 99% efficiency goal for our factories for waste. So they have to recycle or reuse 99% of all waste streams. Which when you think about it is crazy [crosstalk]
John: You were leading in the circular in the linear to circular economy switch over in behavioral changes way early in this process.
Andrea: Way back. Yes. Which I’m proud of. It’s also something I worry about because it’s funny that you mentioned that we’ve made energy-efficient products. That’s such a big goal of ours. Every product that we make that has an Energy Star guideline to it, we meet and we meet those Energy Star goals. So I’d hear now about companies trying to produce products that use less energy and I’m thinking, how are we going to do that? Like, we’re already so efficient, how are we going to take it to the next step? And we’re going to have to use technology and definitely keep progressing, we can’t stop. But yes, we’ve always just made sure that that was a priority. I think for us in recent years we’re very aware as a company that there is a climate crisis. I think the UN officially called it a crisis with increased CO2 emissions. So we’ve lately been focusing our efforts on that and that ties into our goals to help society because we’re seeing an increase of bad weather. Storms, it’s costing governments lots of money, loss of human life, and loss of property. We’re seeing a lack of food supplies from the devastation of droughts or flooding. So our goal has been to focus on this carbon neutrality and we put our money where our mouth is. We did the numbers. We crunched all the numbers and as a company that manufactures electronics, the majority of our carbon emissions come from the use of our products. That’s not coming from our factories. I mean, we do have emissions from our factories, we have a lot of factories, but 80% comes from the use of consumers of making our products. We’ve calculated that our contribution. What we do as a company, our scope 1, 2, and scope 3 emissions. Scope 1 and 2 being your direct emissions from factory operations, vehicle operations, energy consumption, scope 3 being the use of products. We calculated that to be 100,000,000 tons of carbon dioxide. Furthermore, we realized that is 1% of total global emissions. That’s a pretty big deal, we make a lot of products and we use a lot of energy. So what we did is we created what’s called the Green Impact Plan, and that’s our plan to reduce these emissions. So by 2030, we set a goal to be net zero in all of our operating companies and that’s going to include our factories and our office buildings. And then by 2050, we want to be net zero with what I said is our scope 3 emissions, the emissions coming from our products. So we’ve been, as I said, reporting this data for a long time. These goals are far out. So it’s really easy to say 2050 and not think about it. But we set more closer goals. 2024 goal is one that we are just putting our numbers together now and then we’ll do like our 2027 goal. So we’re going to make sure that we’re constantly reaching our progress towards those big goals.
John: And is that progress reported in your impact or sustainability report that you then post on panasonic.com every year?
Andrea: Yes, it is reported there and we actually just released I think 2 weeks ago, our most recent 2023 sustainability data report. So yes, please I invite everyone to go read it and see how we’re doing. I’m very proud of it. I actually just met the team in Japan. I was there last week that puts together that report. It’s over a 100 plus pages. It’s a lot of information. So they do a really good job.
John: So decarb is big, circular economy behavior is big in terms of diversion of products coming out of your factories and things of that stuff. Talk about ESG, ESG has become, again like everything else in the United States, unfortunately in modern times, a little bit polarizing, a little bit politicized too much but still very important and here to stay. Like I said, just like you said, in sustainability, there is a wide reading of things. These a narrow reading of things. What does ESG and CSR mean to Panasonic? And how do you then take your 7 principles and interrelate it with the right ESG mix in the right CSR mix to fit the times that we live in and the evolution that we need to keep driving.
Andrea: This is one of the hardest parts I think of the field right now. Because it is so polarized, we’ve made a lot of these commitments, we were just talking about the sustainability data book that we’ve released and that’s a public document and not everyone is receptive to that. It’s hard for me personally to believe, but there are a lot of different opinions and not everyone thinks that it should be the job of a company, a corporation, to be cognizant of that. So we really have to balance our goals. We’re not going to waiver in what’s important to us as a company, but we’ve got to make sure that we are spreading the word appropriately and not offending anyone. Everyone has a differing opinion, so we’re really working on it carefully, but we’re sticking to our core values and right now as I said, that the top priority is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We have started to expand that and realizing that, as you’ve mentioned, circular economy is a big part of it. But I think the things that we’re doing, we’re not going to change because of the views that are out there. We’re going to keep on reporting, we’re going to make sure that we are in compliance with the global standards. We join a lot of voluntary global organizations to help us do that. In the world of ESG and CSR, Corporate Social Responsibility, we pay a lot of attention to where the minerals that we get as raw materials for our products come from. Also for labor rights and employee rights and then here in the United States and employee wellbeing. You want your employees to be happy and doing a good job at work. So we’re looking at that full scope, the basics of saving water, saving energy, be efficient but then that full scope of ESG.
John: What other challenges and barriers do you see today in environmental sustainability that are out there that you need to work with your team on overcoming them. What are some of the ways to overcome these barriers that exist today?
Andrea: So 2 barriers that I see, I think one is harmonization of regulations and standards and the other is society. I mean, When you talk about such a great service. I know we’re not going to talk about ERI, but e-waste, I think is a great example. But we see this example also with chemicals, with reducing hazardous materials and products with circular economy, all the things you mentioned, ESG reporting. Right now here in the United States, there’s just no standardization. I think there are 25 states with e-waste laws, all that are different. Each one has a separate reporting form, a separate list of products that are applicable or covered under these laws. A separate fee structure, a separate way to report. I mean it’s crazy. Then you take that and then you think we’re a global company and each country has their own set of e-waste chemicals, circular economy, ESG laws. So really, I think the only way for a company or an industry even to be successful and to make the difference is if we have harmonization of these regulations and the standards, so here in the US I would be personally very supportive of more federal standards instead of having just a state by state approach and that seems to be what is happening right now. I feel like all the work that David Thompson did for e-waste was instrumental in helping set up a lot of these state laws. I feel like we didn’t learn from that and we’re doing the same now with chemicals. With PFAS specifically. Different states have either prohibitions or reporting and all the laws are different. Then with circular economy and ESG reporting on a global scale for circular economy, I think I’m tracking 8 different global laws, or not global laws, excuse me, global standards that would help us with circular economy, and then we’re actually working really closely with NIST here in the US for another guidance document. So how do we do that? How do I figure out which one to follow, and do I follow the one that’s here in the United States, or do I follow the one that’s in Japan? And what are they different? Am I going to have to fill out all these different reports for it?
Andrea: ESG reporting worries me with that too. There’s the WRI standard globally for our sustainability data book right now, we follow a local Japanese standard because the reporting is done in Japan. Then just I hear like any day now the governor of California is going to sign a law that we’re going to have to report differently for California. So it makes our job very hard and if you’re a company like us and you want to do the right thing, you want to make an impact, you don’t want to spend time repeating the same information in different formats.
John: That’s fascinating what you just said. When you’re a company like us that wants to do the right thing that’s the key thing. The difficulty of these patchwork quilts of laws across the United States. I want to say the lobbying that Dave and I were doing with some other great brands as well, that were joining in when we were traveling and meeting with legislators across the United States that sort of ended in 2009 or 2010 maximum. And it sort of stalled there. I mean, there hasn’t been many laws that have really been enacted. We stopped at what, 24 states and that’s where we got frozen in the last 14 or so years and when you think about that, and if you then take the analogous bottle bills that exist, can you imagine Andrea, in 2023, now we’re going into 2024, there’s only 11 states with bottle bills in a modern country that we all believe, whether we’re Republican or Democrat or independent, no matter what, we are a party affiliation or anything else, who doesn’t want our husbands and wives and significant others and parents and children and loved ones to breathe cleaner air and drink cleaner water. But yet, the perfect word that you said, harmonize. Why can’t we just harmonize some of the best and brightest ideas and logical paths forward to make it easier to take the burden off companies like yours that historically[?] want to do the right thing and still currently want to do the right thing. Here’s what I’m going to say. 20 years ago we started ERI, Panasonic was one of our first 5 clients, and true to form you’ve never wavered on your commitment to sustainability. Steady leadership in sustainability. Some companies have jumped in and jumped out. We love it, we don’t love it. We’re going to spend a lot on it this year. Panasonic has been steady Eddie for the 20 years that have been the client of our ERI’s and that guiding force has forced to inspire many other brands to follow suit in the electronics manufacturing field and so, I know your history up close and personal. I’ve had a front-row seat, but like you said, it’s, they’ve truly made it difficult on you because you’re dealing with an international brand and I can only imagine, I know what it is just in America with all the different laws and all the different states. I can’t even imagine what you’re dealing with, like you said, on different continents and different countries. It’s a lot. They’ve put a lot on your plate.
Andrea: It keeps me out of my toes. It’s going to keep me energized and awake. So happy to work with it. I also wanted to mention that I feel like society is a big challenge. We have to do what our customers want and what kinds of improvements, what sustainability initiatives are meaningful to them. We can use more recycled plastic in a lot of our products, are you going to buy a product because It has more recycled content in it? Is that important to you? So I think it’s really important. It’s something we can do a better job of is informing our customers of what we do and making it simple. I think Energy store is a great example of something that’s simple.
You can go to your local hardware store and you see that big yellow label and you can compare one product versus another. Right now in a lot of the sustainability or circular economy initiatives, there’s no standard. I bought towels the other day and it had this logo on it and I’m like, what is this? I’ve never heard of this company, is this real? Let me look up the standard, but I’m probably one of the few that’s actually going to go home and Google it before I buy the towels.
John: I’m the same way. Like what is this? Are they making this up? Or is this just marketing or is this real? I’m [inaudible] Let’s talk about [inaudible]
Andrea: I’m sorry. Just we need the government to back us up and help us definitely.
John: You’re right. Good government has a really important place here to help further fuel the right type of laws to, as like you said, great word, harmonize the good stuff that’s out there and bring some rationality to it because they, there’s no reason to make it more difficult than it already is. There’s no reason to make it more difficult. Talk a little bit about what makes you jump out of bed in the morning when you’re going to your headquarters in New Jersey on a daily basis, what initiatives get you most excited at Panasonic that you’re working on now, but also coming in the future? The ones that you’re allowed to talk about because I know some you’re not allowed to talk about but talk about what gets you jazzed?
Andrea: For me, it’s the people and the ideas that we get and actually ERI is a partner on this one. We were launching a new product. It is called the multi-shape and it’s very familiar with it, the grooming device. So historically you can have five different electronic grooming devices. You could have a razor, a trimmer, a toothbrush, all these things. So we put the five into one. So there’s one handle, one motor, and then it has five different attachments. What I really like about this is that we calculated the savings in the natural resources that we use to go into it and 60% savings in changing that. So you buy your one[?]. This is what motivates me, as I said those 7 basic principles, they’re ingrained, people are listening to them. The sales team came to me, I didn’t come to them. The sales team came to me and they said, “We realize now that somebody could be disposing of 5 different products [inaudible] We want them to buy our new product and they could be tossing out these, what happens to them.” And I’m like, well, there are really no states that require us to recycle. This was right before all the battery laws just passed, but there was no state requiring us to recycle these battery-operated electronic razors. They said,” Well, we don’t want them to end up in a landfill. What can we do?” So we did take back for tomorrow, and that’s a program where if a customer buys a new multi-shape product, we will send them through ERI a prepaid mailing label and they will be able to properly recycle that and that story gets even better in my view, because if there is a lithium-ion battery inside [inaudible] you’re smiling because you know this.
John: [inaudible] Share it. Go ahead.
Andrea: Or a nickel metal hydride. That battery gets sent to a company called Redwood Materials. They’re one of our partners. One of your partners and it’s fantastic. I always say, you probably know more than me because you understand it. I say they put it into their black box, they’ll never tell me. I could tour their facility, they’re not going to tell me how I do it, but they take those and make it into new materials that we then purchase and make into EV batteries. Isn’t that amazing?
John: I mean the circularity that you’ve created just on that program itself, again [inaudible] with the listeners, I want them to understand, it’s amazing and great and inspirational brands like Panasonic that transcend government and laws because you were not legally forced to create this program, although the creativeness of your team bring it to you and your vision and ability to make that kind of decision to then push that program forward and just think about that circularity comes back to us, one of the leading recyclers in North America and goes back to the leading recycler in lithium ion batteries and nickel hydrate batteries that then go back to your Panasonic division that’s making the EV batteries for Tesla and other great brands. It’s just an incredible circularity story and I believe the number now is 98% of what’s going into a recycling at Redwood is coming out and going right back into the circular economy. They are literally zero waste on getting all the materials out of lithium ion batteries, which includes of course, copper, lithium, nickel and all the metals and sub metals that headline that. So it’s just one of the great stories and again companies you were bringing up earlier when we were talking about the difficulty and the polarization and the politicization of ESG. Yes. Some people don’t agree that companies should be taking the lead on these things. I don’t agree with that because great companies that are constantly and historically for 100 years been doing the right thing are continuing to do that and drive progress. And Panasonic is literally the platinum standard in that leadership mode. And this is just another great example of that.
Andrea: Thank you for that. That is definitely energizing that we have employees that care and as a company we’re willing to do it, we’re willing to put ourselves out there and take that lead.
John: Without being forced to. That’s the whole thing. You transcend the politics and therefore you push other OEMs to do the same. Other OEMs watch you, are inspired and motivated by that, and say, “We can do more as well.” We could all be better both personally and from a brand perspective. And that’s, to me, under the heading of being better and that’s just so exciting and that excites me as well as you could tell and the people at Redwood are just amazing led by JB Strobel. His commitment to sustainability and circular economy as well. That brings up another point, when great brands like Panasonic were formed 100 years ago or so, and other great brands and other great OEMs, it used to be you could create your things and do your thing and change the world from your perspective in a silo and now truly the most inspiring and exciting things that I’m hearing about more and more that are going on from the great people like you that I get to interview on this show are collaborations, and collaborations are just magical. This is just one of those other magical collaborations that Panasonic created, drove, there would be no ERI part of this. There’d be no Red Wood part of this. If it wasn’t for your team thinking, being creative and coming to you with this, and then you giving everybody the space and the, and the guidance to push it forward. I just think it’s just that kind of collaboration to me gets me out of bed every morning.
Andrea: You’re right and I think the industry as a whole, the electronics industry, I think we work really well together. I just attended a Climate Week event. It’s the UN’s Climate Week in New York City earlier this week with my industry peers and we put our heads together and we were talking about how as an industry we can do things, how we can work together, how we can use some trade organizations to help us. So we’re not going to work in our silos. We’re of course competing out there in the market and I’ll let sales worry about that. But on sustainability issues, we’re going to work together.
John: It’s true, because like you just said, on sustainability issues, working together, it’s not a zero sum game. We all have one environment to protect and the more we work together, the better the environment is protected, and we all work[?]
Andrea: Got it.
John: [inaudible] Before I let you go today, Andrea, and thanks for all your time. Talk a little bit to our young professionals out there. We have a whole set of 18 year old’s that want to be the next Andrea Murphy. We have a whole set of college graduates and people going into graduate school. And again, you were very frank and open up front talking about the zigs and the zags of your career. What’s the advice when you talk to the next generation behind you that want to be the next director of environmental affairs and sustainability at any brand, not only in the United States, but around the world, what’s some of the guidance and tips you could give them to best prepare for those kind of roles?
Andrea: I wish I had somebody tell me that when I was starting my career. But I would say, be curious, ask a lot of questions and get involved. Those are the things. I always cared about the environment, I always cared about animals, so I volunteered in places. I graduated during a recession. I had trouble finding a job initially and they were putting together an environmental committee in my small town in New Jersey to protect a watershed. It was in Marlboro, New Jersey. They were closing. It was an old mental health facility that sat on the headquarters[?] for a large watershed and they’re very worried. People in town were saying, “someone’s going to buy it, they’re going to develop it we need to protect it.” I knew nothing out of college. I had that shiny degree that taught me no world activities, but I put in my time, I volunteered and I learned so much about how government works doing that. So get yourself out there, put yourself out of your comfort zone, make connections and there’s always an organization that you can volunteer your local nature conservancy[?], local governments. I would tell people to just really get out there, ask questions, and learn what they can. I love mentoring, that’s a side passion of mine, happy to talk to anyone who’s interested and make those connections. Do your research on the companies. As I said, I did a lot of research on Panasonic before I took the job. I certainly wasn’t going to take this role for a company that didn’t stand behind and have the documentation behind what they’re doing, make sure you’re choosing the right company. Some jobs could be flashy but if you really care, you got to find the right fit for you.
John: I love it. That’s great advice. Andrea, I want to give you an open invitation to come back on the Impact podcast anytime you want to come back on and share the continued journey in sustainability. As you and I know there’s no finish line in sustainability. It’s a continuing journey and your journey at Panasonic is fascinating and we’re proud of it, and we’re proud to be one of your partners. We’re very proud of that and I just want to say thank you for your time today, for your wisdom, and for your vision to find Andrea Murphy who leads the office of Environmental Affairs and Sustainability at Panasonic North America. Please go to www.na.panasonic.com. Andrea Murphy, thank you for not only leading Panasonic’s sustainability efforts in North America but thank you for making the world a better place.
Andrea: Thank you so much for having me, John. I think I’m blushing after that. That’s quite a close, but I appreciate it. And I’ll certainly tell Dave that you say hello.
John: Thank you. This edition of The Impact Podcast is brought to you by Engage. Engage is a digital booking platform, revolutionizing the talent booking industry with thousands of athletes, celebrities, entrepreneurs, and business leaders. Engage is the go-to spot for booking talent, for speeches, custom experiences, live streams, and much more. For more information on Engage or to book talent today, visit let’s engage.com. This edition of The Impact Podcast is brought to you by ERI. ERI has a mission to protect people, the planet, and your privacy, and is the largest fully integrated IT and electronics asset disposition provider and cybersecurity-focused hardware destruction company in the United States and maybe even the world. For more information on how ERI can help your business properly dispose of outdated electronic hardware devices, please visit eridirect.com.