Philip Morris Bulgaria Issued its First ESG Report “Sustainability: Sharing Progress 2022”

The priority ESG topics in the company strategy are product health impact, post-consumer waste and the contribution to the economy and the local communities.

Philip Morris Bulgaria released its first self-standing report “Sustainability: Sharing Progress, 2022” outlining the company strategy in Bulgaria in the context of the ESG, environmental, social and governance, pillars identified in 2022. The report was drafted with the assistance of experts from denkstatt Bulgaria who have long experience in the sustainability area.
The conclusions of the 2022 Report were presented to media representatives, experts, and partners. The Report aligns with the EU Directive 2022/2464/EU as regards corporate sustainability reporting and is based on the methodology of the voluntary GRI 2021 Standards (Global Reporting Initiative) although the company is not currently subject to the mandatory non-financial reporting requirements.

“Guided by our smoke-free mission since 2017 Philip Morris Bulgaria has been achieving significant progress and developing a more sustainable business model which makes an important contribution to increasing awareness about the innovative smokefree alternatives and their potential to reduce tobacco harm for the smokers who switch to them and abandon cigarettes.“, said Demian Pintos, General Manager of Philip Morris Bulgaria. “Philip Morris International earned great global recognition for its efforts just a few days ago when the company was included for the first time in one of the most reputable indices in the world evaluating the sustainability performance of the companies – Dow Jones Sustainability Index”, he added. The S&P Global index comprises global sustainability leaders representing the top 10% of the largest 2,500 companies in the S&P Global Broad Market based on long-term economic, environmental, and social criteria.

The Report is based on an in-depth materiality assessment of the global topics identified by Philip Morris International on the one hand and the topics determined as most significant locally by Philip Morris Bulgaria. Multiple factors were taken into account in the prioritization of the topics locally, including the opinion of external stakeholders such as business representatives, partners, government institutions and regulators, and media. The Report highlights six topics listed in order of importance:

  • Product health impact – reducing tobacco harm through innovative smokefree alternatives and their public health impact, and increasing awareness about the harm from smoking;
  • Post-consumer waste – reducing environmental pollution through recycling the devices returned by consumers and packaging waste;
  • Economic contribution of the company – ongoing efforts to combat illicit trade in tobacco products and positive social and economic impact on the communities in the remote tobacco-growing regions of Bulgaria;
  • Business integrity – compliance with the legal requirements and the high standards and strict rules of the company, and honouring the integrity commitment in all our social interactions;
  • Sales, marketing, and consumer communications – making sustained effort to prevent the access of youth to the company’s products and strict compliance with the company’s Marketing Code;
  • Human capital attraction and development – encouraging a culture of diversity, belonging, equality and inclusion, and creating opportunities for the development of talents.

The public health impact of the smokefree products and their potential for reducing tobacco harm is a priority topic for the company in Bulgaria in line with the global ambition of Philip Morris International to accelerate the transition to a smokefree future. Philip Morris Bulgaria has achieved considerable progress in that respect and at the end of the reporting period, 31.12.2022, the adult users of the leading smokefree alternative IQOS stood at about 260 000, 195 000 of whom have stopped smoking cigarettes and have switched fully to the smokefree alternative of the company. To date the number of adult users has risen to more than 320 000.

With regards to its environmental impact and post-consumer waste the company reported that for the reference period more than 87% of the returned tobacco heating devices have been recycled. An important aspect in terms of environment protection is the information campaign #ChangeThePicture, which is designed to increase awareness about the issue of cigarette butt littering and to inspire responsible consumer behaviour. For a third consecutive year various art and information initiatives have been launched under the campaign in conjunction with local non-governmental organizations and media partners. By the end of 2022 approximately 300 volunteers had taken part in cleanup drives and the #ChangeThePicture traveling exhibition had visited 4 cities in the country. One of the most impressive projects was the collaboration with the National Academy of Theater and Film Arts “Krastyo Sarafov” and more specifically the short videos made by the students and inspired by the #ChangeThePicture messages.

The Sustainability Report of Philip Morris Bulgaria contains many facts and data about the company’s progress and achievements, including the Top Employer award received by the Top Employers Institute for a 7th consecutive year, one of the most long-standing charity programs providing support to the communities of tobacco growers – “Summer for Joy, Autumn for Care” implemented by the BCause Foundation: Charity Aid for 9 years in a row, being issued the global EQUAL-SALARY certificate for equal pay for equal work and many others.

Philip Morris Bulgaria reaffirmed its commitment and desire to engage in open and transparent dialogue with all stakeholders thus contributing to effective change towards sustainable society and environment.