Robert F. Kennedy Jr. sat down with Video4Good at the 2012 COMMIT!Forum in New York. In an extended interview, Kennedy discusses his career in the environmental movement and the impacts of business on the planet. He explores the roots of environmental problems, analyzes the current situation and offers solutions for creating a healthy, prosperous future for society and the natural world.
In this video, Part Nine of the interview, he explains that corporate accountability is a moral decision for CEOs that can have far reaching effects for all of society.
I think ultimately we’re going to have extended producer responsibility in this country, and it’s really individuals within these companies that are making the decision — ultimately it’s going to be the CEO and it’s going to be other people in the company who have to say we have to go beyond this quarter’s bottom line, and look at the image of this company over long-term and the impact that that image has on shareholder value. And ultimately what am I doing on this, with my little time that I’m going to spend on this planet, am I, just going to make a big pile for myself and whoever dies with the most stuff wins? Or am I going to try to do something that leaves the world a little bit of a better place for my kids?
Procter & Gamble, well, if they go with EPR, it will automatically create a tipping point with the entire industry will flow after them. So, you know, the CEO of Procter & Gamble has this tremendous power really to clean up the planet, not just because it is any company, they’re the biggest producer of plastics and plastic bottles in the world and plastic containers. This is ultimately a moral choice and it’s going to be a good economic choice but ultimately this is about core values.
The industry strategy was to blame litter and pollution on the slovenly habits of the American people. I remember back in 60s and 70s there was an ad that ran onto TV that had somebody tossing a bottle out of an automobile and an Indian standing on the road with a tear in his eye. And it was a very, very effective ad and a very emotive. A lot of people thought that was an ad by an environmental group but actually it was an ad that was put out by a coalition of industry players of glass bottle and aluminum can manufacturers whose objective was to stop Bottle Bills from being passed in 50 States by saying to Americans: “It’s not our problem, it’s your problem. If you weren’t such slobs we wouldn’t have this problem. Don’t blame it on us. You take responsibility for it.” So that was kind of the industry position.