A Collaborative Sustainability Journey
Environmental stewardship and corporate responsibility have long been part of Corning’s identity. The distinctive value we offer comes from our sustained ability to innovate, being part of something bigger than ourselves, something that outlasts us all. And that extends not only to the technologies we create – like the glass that enables solar panels for renewable energy and fiber optic cable that can bring educational and economic opportunities to underserved populations – but our impact on the environment and the communities where we live and work.
As our CEO, Wendell Weeks, said in the company’s 2021 Sustainability Report: “We’ve always operated under the conviction that financial performance is not sufficient — we must strive to be a catalyst for positive change and help make the world just a little bit better.”
A new pledge to target greenhouse gas emissions
Part of that journey involved looking inward and making our own operations more sustainable. To measure progress and hold ourselves accountable, in 2020 Corning set 12 public sustainability goals. These include efforts to increase our use of renewable energy, reduce water consumption, maintain a diverse board of directors and certify our suppliers as socially responsible.
Also, in 2021, we added two new goals to our sustainability aspirations, developed in accordance with the Science Based Targets initiative:
- Reduce our Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30% (absolute basis) by 2028 compared to a 2021 baseline
- Reduce our relevant Scope 3 emissions by 17.5% (absolute basis) by 2028 compared to a 2021 baseline
The formalization of these goals may be recent, but they are a natural extension of the focus on safety, innovation, and community engagement – and the long-term view of the positive impact our company has on the world – that’s been in Corning’s DNA since our founding 170 years ago, and a major focus on Corning Optical Communications (COC) specifically.
A look back at 2021: Steady progress on sustainability
At COC, we’ve been making steady progress on these ambitious goals. 2021 highlights from our most recent Sustainability Report include:
- Efforts in renewable energy and energy efficiency in Hainan, China;
- Water recycling and reduction projects in Wilmington and Reynosa, water recovery in optical fiber facilities and waste management and circular economy in Strykow, Reynosa and North Carolina;
- Supporting our employees with rotational programs such as BRiTE, supporting employee resource groups like EMEA’s Abled and DisAbled Partnering Together (ADAPT), and enhancing the health of our employees and communities with vaccination events in Reynosa;
- Giving back to our communities through education initiatives, donations and volunteerism all around the world. In 2021 provided equitable broadband access to university students, launched a five-year $5.5 million collaboration with America’s largest historically black university and made a grant to the local branch of the NAACP.
Additionally, a group of employees have formed the Corning Sustainability Network to accelerate the integration of sustainability into all parts of Corning and provide education and engagement opportunities to interested employees.
We’re proud of this work and our role in leading the way toward a better world. But we know the work isn’t done, and that meeting ambitious climate goals for Corning and our industry more broadly will take long-term commitment.
Our Journey Ahead
We augment our efforts across COC to lay the foundation for current and future generations to thrive, reach their full potential and be independent. In 2021 we introduced “cradle-to-grave” carbon footprint analysis for several new products using the Life Cycle Assessment methodology. In 2022, we are expanding this capability to more products.
In addition to sustainability efforts within Corning itself, we have a unique opportunity to partner on this journey with major external stakeholders. Several of our customers have selected COC to be part of a group of vendors jointly developing their supply chain greenhouse gas reduction program and supplier diversity initiatives.
Our products have a positive impact on people and communities, transforming the way the world connects now and for generations to come. This is how we expand the bandwidth of human potential: through innovation, we can be the connection to a sustainable future.
Through our all-around ESG policy we ensure our operations are respecting the 3 main pillars of sustainability – profit, people and planet because we know that what we do today will determine what our world looks like tomorrow and beyond.
Therefore, we believe Corning’s greatest contributions are yet to come.