Disney Sets Green Goals

Friday, Mar 13, 2009  |  Updated 4:10 AM CDT
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Disney Sets Green Goals

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The Walt Disney Co., which brought the world the futuristic trash-compacting robot "WALL-E," has decided to create less of a mess itself.  The Burbank-based company said it is seeking to halve the greenhouse gases it emits directly from fuel consumption at its theme parks, cruise ships and office and retail spaces by 2012 from 2006 levels.  It also set a goal of reducing electricity consumption by 10% from 2006 to 2013.

The company produced some 566,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent gases and used 2 billion kilowatt hours of electricity in 2006.  Disney also sought to cut the amount of waste it sends to landfills to half of the 2006 level of 170,000 tons by 2013.  Long-term, the company seeks to produce zero waste and net zero direct greenhouse gas emissions.

The goals were ambitious ones, given that the company is spending $1 billion to expand and overhaul its California Adventure theme park, including a new "Cars" area based on its Pixar Animation Studios movie.  It also plans to construct two new cruise ships, in addition to its current pair, set to hit the seas by 2012. Cruise operations account for nearly half the company's greenhouse gas emissions.

Beth Stevens, senior vice president of environmental affairs, said the goals will create efficiencies and cost savings but could also require investments, such as funding programs such as planting trees to offset emissions.  "In the long term, they're going to help us both with our growth and our environmental goals," Stevens said.

The company also for the first time released figures that show the popularity of menu changes begun in 2006 that, as a default, serve kids meals with apples or other healthy side dishes, and milk, juice or water, instead of the usual french fries and soft drink.  About two-thirds of parents in U.S. parks and more than 95% of those in the Hong Kong theme park accepted the healthier choices.

At the Paris theme park, while 85% accepted healthier drinks, only 15% chose healthier sides instead of fries.  That could be because parents saw the occasion as a treat or because the healthier side dishes weren't seen as appropriate, said Jennifer Shein Anopolsky, senior vice president of corporate responsibility.

"WALL-E," released last June, depicts an Earth so covered in trash that it has been abandoned by humans who have grown obese and lazy and live on a space resort run by the Buy N Large Corporation.

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