Alcoa Employees Improve Sustainability in their Communities Inspired by Earthwatch Experience

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In September 2017, eight Alcoa employees spent two weeks in Churchill, Manitoba, working alongside leading scientists to collect critical climate change data as part of a professional development opportunity led by Earthwatch Institute and made possible by Alcoa Foundation. Now, these fellows are putting their experiences to use by improving sustainability practices in their businesses and communities, from tackling waste in their offices to expanding environmental education in local schools.

In September 2017, eight Alcoa employees spent two weeks in Churchill, Manitoba, working alongside leading scientists to collect critical climate change data as part of a professional development opportunity led by Earthwatch Institute and made possible by Alcoa Foundation. Now, these fellows are putting their experiences to use by improving sustainability practices in their businesses and communities, from tackling waste in their offices to expanding environmental education in local schools.

During their time in the field, the team visited more than a dozen different wetlands, helping to uncover the environmental impacts of climate change within these ecosystems. Wetlands comprise roughly 40 percent of the tundra landscape in the region and are susceptible to drying as a result of warming temperatures. The fellows also participated in facilitated learning sessions focused on improving sustainability practices at Alcoa and around the world.

These unique fellowships are sponsored by the Alcoa Foundation and led by Earthwatch Institute – a non-profit organization that connects citizens with scientists to conduct conservation research around the world.

“Achieving a more sustainable world requires participation at every level, from large sweeping actions of many to meaningful individual actions,” said Rosa García Pineiro, Alcoa Foundation President and VP Sustainability, Alcoa. “My favorite part about our partnership with the Earthwatch Institute is seeing how our creative employees implement their learnings in their communities upon their return, creating a ripple effect of change, hopefully for years to come.”

After returning home from Churchill, Alcoa program specialist Amy Schofield tackled the use of disposable coffee cups in her workplace located in Booragoon, Australia. In Amy’s office, roughly 52,000 cups are discarded each year. To combat this waste, she provided each employee with a 100 percent biodegradable, reusable coffee cup.

Barbara Sándor, a transactional buyer in Székesfehérvár, Hungary, is working with local newspapers to publish a comic on sustainability and is working within her office to remove disposable plastic cups and encourage more environmentally friendly printing practices.

In Huntly, Australia, environmental scientist Kira Sorensen is developing an environmental ambassador program in her office, which will improve environmental integration within business operations, help to develop workforce talent and increase accountability.

Hugo Leonardo Rodrigues Cantanhede (Environmental Health and Safety Analyst in Sao Luis, Brazil), Jeremie Boivin (reliability engineer in Baie-Comeau, Canada), and Patrick Lotteau (treasury manager in Geneva, Switzerland) are all working with local schools to expand environmental and sustainability education with presentations, composting programs, and engaging with local nature organizations.

Project manager Miltiadis Constantine and strategic planning and analysis manager Shelley Ranii are working to increase the overall sustainability of the Alcoa Corporate Headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from reducing paper usage to updating the recycling stream.

“Scientific research in the Arctic and subarctic regions is critical to understanding the effects of climate change,” said Scott Kania, CEO, Earthwatch Institute. “Not only did these eight Alcoa fellows help to collect vitally important data that will inform future policy and management decisions, they brought their experiences back to their offices and communities by improving local sustainability practices, which will have far-reaching impacts.”

To learn more about the Alcoa Earthwatch Fellowship program, visit http://www.alcoa.com/foundation/en/partnerships-programs/earthwatch-fellowship-program.asp. To learn more about the story behind the Earthwatch research in Churchill, visit http://multimedia.earthwatch.org/treesinthetundra.

About Earthwatch Institute
Earthwatch Institute is an international nonprofit organization that connects citizens with scientists to improve the health and sustainability of the planet. Since its founding in 1971, Earthwatch has empowered nearly 100,000 volunteers from all walks of life to join leading scientists on field research expeditions that tackle critical environmental challenges around the globe – from climate change to ocean health, human-wildlife conflict, and more. Earthwatch works with all sectors of society, from corporations to teachers, students, community leaders, zoos and aquaria, and more. For more information about Earthwatch, visit http://www.earthwatch.org.

About Alcoa Foundation
Alcoa Foundation’s predecessor, currently known as Legacy Alcoa Foundation (and formerly known as Alcoa Foundation), was founded in 1952 as one of the few endowed corporate foundations in the United States. As a result of the separation of Alcoa Inc. into Alcoa Corporation and Arconic Inc. in November 2016, two new foundations were formed, into which the assets of Legacy Alcoa Foundation were transferred. One of the newly formed foundations, known now as Alcoa Foundation, is the foundation associated with Alcoa Corporation. Today, Alcoa Foundation invests where Alcoa Corporation has a presence, providing grants that contribute to environmental excellence around the world, particularly in the areas of biodiversity conservation and climate change research. Learn more at http://www.alcoafoundation.com and follow @AlcoaFoundation on Twitter.

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