Omnicom Media Group (OMG) is the media services division of Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE: OMC), the leading global advertising, marketing and corporate communications company, providing services to over 5,000 clients in more than 100 countries. In the Middle East, OMG employs 700 people in its Dubai HQ and offices around the region. OMG's CSR programme started in 2012 with a few ad-hoc initiatives before launching its first comprehensive sustainability report in accordance with the GRI G4 guidelines in 2015. "We heard about the Drop it campaign when it first launched, as we were in the process of investigating alternate sources of drinking water supply," Said Alanna Turpin, Group Sustainability Manager. BEFORE Omnicom Media Group used to go through on average 80 5-gallon water bottles and over 15,000 500ml water bottles per month. A room was dedicated to water bottles storage on each of the 6 floors of the Dubai HQ, but because this room was not air conditioned, the water would often be warm when it arrived to the employees' desks. Omnicom Media Group used to spend around 9,000 AED per month on bottled water (108,000AED per year), and frequently ran out of stock before the time of the next delivery. THE SOLUTION Omnicom Media Group installed 17 water filters and dispensers throughout its HQ building. "Our main objective was to provide a healthier, more sustainable source of hydration, that was kinder to our employers, and the planet," said Alanna Turpin. "We are lucky to be a very diverse company, with many different cultures and origins. Some employees were delighted by our decision, others were more skeptical and didn't trust the process, especially the ones that were told from a very young age that it was not safe to drink tap water. What we needed more than anything else at that stage was a mindset change, and communication became instrumental to achieve this." Omnicom Media Group organized a week-long water awareness campaign to educate its people on water conservation, personal hydration, UAE local water sources and how water filters work. The company also had its water tested by an independent laboratory and displayed the results on its internal app. "We actually kept this habit, because it brings peace of mind to many of our employees. We distributed individual reusable glass bottles to all employees and highlighted why reusable is better than recyclable. Slowly, our CSR committee's efforts of continuous education proved effective to overcome all concerns," continues Alanna Turpin.
AFTER By saving 960 5-gallon bottles and over 181,000 500-ml bottles from landfill each year, Omnicom Media Group saves 16 tonnes of CO2 each year, if we only take into the account the plastic bottle production (no transport or other supply-chain logistics). "Following our filters and reusable bottles' primary investment, we broke even in just 8 months, and started to save money. We expect to save approximately 27% of the bottled water cost in the first year of our switch to filtered tap water, and 87% in 2 years, which includes filter maintenance," explains Alanna Turpin. Instead of transporting and storing all these bottles and then managing all the waste, each employee is responsible to clean their own bottle that they are able to refill at any time from our dispensers. A handful of employees also benefited from the Drop it Members' employee discount when they switched to filtered tap water at home, inspired by the company-wide initiative. GOING THE EXTRA MILE Omnicom Media Group decided to continue its alignment to number 6 of the UN sustainable goal by helping to provide clean water to other communities. With some of the money saved by the switch to water filtration solutions instead of plastic bottles, they were able to partner with Planet Water Foundation for World Water Day 2017 and sent a team to India and a team to the Philippines to build a water filtration tank in a village that had access to none. "We chose these two countries to reflect the origins of most of our employees and it felt natural to give back to these communities and engage them in our work. Moreover, we are currently looking into installing compact dishwashers on the floors that have a water supply and getting rid of single-use coffee cups, cutlery, etc altogether. This will help us to reduce waste and encourage the use of reusable items," concludes Alanna Turpin.