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Environmental Sustainability

Management Approach

RAI and its subsidiaries are committed to understanding and mitigating the environmental costs of our businesses. Minimizing our environmental impact is the right thing to do for society and for our bottom line.

Through a comprehensive third-party environmental footprint assessment, we have quantified the impacts of our operations and supply chain on more than 2,000 environmental issues. By expressing these costs in financial terms, we are able to prioritize our efforts on the most material environmental and business issues. Our most material and financial issues are within the tobacco leaf production and direct materials supply chain, along with our energy usage. 

To mitigate RAI’s environmental impacts, in 2016 we developed a list of sustainability projects within these high-impact areas. These projects were grouped by area and operating company. Equipped with internal and external project data, and using the most respected, peer-reviewed assessment framework, we systematically approached these projects for consistent and coherent assessment of both the environmental and financial values, enabling us to optimally allocate our resources to the projects that would most likely generate the highest environmental and financial returns.

Increasingly, we plan on working with our supply chain partners, including the tobacco growers with whom we contract, to identify and agree on mutually beneficial projects. Read more about our environmental supply chain strategy in the Supplier Responsibility and the Responsible Agriculture sections.

Goals & Leadership

Our goal is to minimize the environmental impact of our operations.

  • Stabilize greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2025 to the 2014 level
  • Reduce GHG intensity by 20% by 2020 against 2014 baseline
  • Reduce energy intensity by 25% by 2020 against 2014 baseline
  • Reduce water intensity by 30% by 2020 against 2014 baseline
  • Recycle at least 60% of our facility waste by 2020

The executive vice president (EVP) of operations for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and EVP of public affairs for Reynolds American Inc. (RAI) are ultimately responsible for RAI and its subsidiaries’ environmental goals. Executives in public affairs, supply chain, operations, marketing, human resources, research and development, finance and leaf collaborate with operations personnel to develop, coordinate and execute programs to achieve company-wide targets. In addition, in 2016, a Corporate Sustainability Team was formed through a collaboration of employees from more than 10 different departments across RAI and its subsidiaries to further drive an appropriate sustainability culture and with measurable results. Oversight of the Corporate Sustainability Team is provided by EVPs from marketing, operations and public affairs.

Each operating company identifies and selects its own strategies to drive return on investment and environmental impact for the targets they control. Using results from our environmental materiality assessment, representatives from environmental, health and safety (EHS), engineering, facilities, energy and recycle teams prioritize and implement initiatives. Progress is continually reviewed and results are consolidated and reported annually.

While initiatives are managed at the operating company level, the EHS managers meet regularly as a group to work toward common RAI goals, fostering innovation through sharing best practices and providing tools to the operating companies. Additionally, RAI’s operating companies hold an annual EHS Symposium, which brings together stakeholders from within and outside the companies. The Symposium serves as a showcase of EHS best practices, and a mechanism for recognition of innovation efforts.

The 2016 EHS Symposium was hosted at American Snuff Company’s (ASC) Memphis facility. External safety speaker Tony Crow spoke about the importance of using personal protection equipment (PPE) and safety communications, both on and off the job. In 2017, we plan to create an EHS Roadshow to further drive visibility of safety messaging and enhance EHS presence at the factory level.

Environmental Management Systems

Strong operating systems are important to sound environmental management. RAI’s operating companies are committed to continuously improving environmental management systems, which are guided by a variety of strict standards:

  • Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company (SFNTC) is ISO 14001 certified at both its North Carolina manufacturing facility and at its New Mexico headquarters. ISO 14001 is the framework for developing an effective environmental management system.
  • SFNTC’s North Carolina manufacturing facility is also ISO 50001 certified. This is ISO’s Energy Management System framework, which improves energy efficiency and conservation, and drives reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
  • ASC’s facilities in Winston-Salem, N.C., and Clarksville and Memphis, Tenn., have in place environmental management systems based on the ISO 14001 format. These are audited annually to an ISO standard.
  • R.J. Reynolds and SFNTC are certified by independent third-party auditors to the ISO 9001 Quality Standard. ISO 9001 delineates standard operating procedures and work instructions. These procedures include recordkeeping, which provides the structure and database for many environmental management procedures.

Robust environmental management systems are essential to maintaining safe and sustainable operations. Our companies are committed to doing the right thing for our communities and society at large, and our environmental management systems enable our facilities to operate in a manner that surpasses compliance with environmental regulations. RAI’s operating companies continue to excel in environmental compliance, and we are proud to report zero environmental violations again in 2016.

Audit & Assurance Procedures

In 2016, RAI’s operating companies worked on changing from a risk-based to a three-tier audit platform. The platform, ready for 2017 implementation, utilizes a proactive approach to audit, continually monitoring and evaluating EHS processes. Tiers include:

  • First-party – regular inspections, led by front-line managers, employees and facility management;
  • Second-party – conducted by EHS teams from company affiliates every other year to enhance program consistency across operating companies; and
  • Third-party – independent EHS audits conducted by external experts every three years.

RAI’s subsidiaries manage environmental performance by measuring, monitoring and reporting key environmental metrics such as GHG emissions, energy efficiency, water consumption and waste disposal. The data they report are verified by an independent third party.

External Recognition

Our operating companies strive for sustainable operations and continuous improvement because it is the right thing to do. We are proud that our companies’ efforts have been recognized by various external stakeholders, such as:

  • Dow Jones Sustainability World Index;
  • CDP Climate A List
  • CDP Forests (A-)
  • CDP Water (B)
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Green Power Leadership Award;
  • The Tennessee Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards;
  • Forsyth County Environmental Assistance and Protection department; and
  • North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.

A full listing of our awards can be found here.

Programs & Priorities

We recognize our companies’ manufacturing operations rely on resources and produce waste streams that may impact the environment. Our operating companies are committed to minimizing their environmental footprint and driving their environmental, health and safety (EHS) programs in accordance with the guiding principles set out in RAI’s Environmental, Health and Safety Policy.

Greenhouse Gas & Energy


Waste & Recycling