Cause Marketing Food Marketing Marketing Marketing QSR

Sustainability is Personal for Pizza Hut’s Global Sustainability Manager Emily True

Written by Guest Author

True’s story is part of the “What I’ve Learned” interview series, which features the stories of KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, The Habit Burger Grill and Yum! employees in their own words. 

Growing up along the Massachusetts coast, Emily True embraced nature and the outdoors, often spending her free time hiking trails or swimming at the beach, basking in the planet’s natural beauty. But it wasn’t until a school friend opened her eyes to environmental consciousness and how it can be cool to live an eco-friendly lifestyle that True began to embrace sustainability as a personal ethos.  

This newfound perspective propelled True toward studying environmental science at the University of Massachusetts Boston, while also earning a minor in clean energy. After completing her studies, she explored careers, working in a series of impactful roles ranging from academic environmental initiatives to scientific water regulatory positions.  

True’s path eventually led her to pursue a master’s degree in environmental management at Duke University, where her perspective on sustainability underwent a transformative shift. Encouraged by mentors to explore the intersection of business and environmental stewardship, she embarked on a journey to challenge conventional paradigms by advocating for sustainability within corporate landscapes. 

It was this pursuit that eventually brought True to Pizza Hut, where she assumed the role of championing the brand’s global sustainability initiatives. Combining her expertise in environmental science with strategic business acumen, she has since played a role in elevating Pizza Hut’s commitment to sustainability with the brand’s Recipe for Good strategy, ushering in a new era of responsible corporate citizenship. As she continues this path, True remains committed to learning and evolving, recognizing that sustainability at its core includes corporate strategies and personal values and behaviors. 

Here is what she has learned in her personal and professional sustainability journey in her own words.

Sustainability is Pizza Hut’s business imperative 

In my tenure at Pizza Hut, I’ve discovered the transformative potential of integrating sustainability into core business strategies. Businesses have a crucial role to play in driving environmental change, and sustainability should be a cornerstone of their operations. Normalizing corporate sustainability is essential because it shifts the narrative from sustainability being an option to it being a fundamental aspect of doing business responsibly.  

I’ve witnessed firsthand with Pizza Hut how embedding sustainability into the fabric of a company’s identity can not only mitigate environmental impacts but also drive innovation, enhance brand reputation and foster long-term profitability.   

Take, for example, Pizza Hut’s partnership with the Dairy Farmers of America, which is providing select farmers in the U.S. with technology and data to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions intensity from the milk used in the production of Pizza Hut’s cheese by 10% and revolutionize the environmental impact of the brand’s overall dairy production. Through this collaboration, Pizza Hut is not just reducing its environmental footprint but also driving innovation and enhancing its brand reputation. By aligning sustainability goals with overarching business objectives, companies can create a win-win scenario where environmental stewardship goes hand in hand with commercial success.

Personal sustainability is a powerful catalyst for collective change 

To be a role model for others, it is important for me to embrace a holistic approach to conservation and to align my personal behaviors with environmental values. I try to keep eco-conscious consumption habits at the forefront of my lifestyle, like composting and reducing my personal food waste, even experimenting with creating vegetable stock from leftover produce scraps. I’ve started a “broth bag” in my freezer for food scraps like onion peels, which you can then boil in water to make a homemade broth. It’s an easy solution to minimizing food waste and keeping consumable food out of our landfills.  

Additionally, I find inspiration from initiatives like Pizza Hut’s food donation program Harvest, which has been donating surplus food from restaurants to food banks and other organizations since 1992. Our brand’s commitment to reducing food waste and supporting communities resonates with my own values of sustainability and social responsibility. 

I often rely on public transportation in my home of Chicago, Illinois, to get around, and I choose not to own a car. I know public transportation isn’t always an option in other cities, so I often will encourage others to ride their bike or get some extra steps in by walking, if possible, to minimize their environmental footprint.  

I also try to take proactive steps to offset my personal carbon emissions, like researching and contributing to carbon offset projects that fund environmental initiatives like including renewable energy development such as wind or solar farms and conservation efforts that protect ecosystems and biodiversity. My goal is to influence positive change and inspire others to join me in safeguarding the environment for future generations. 

Harness collaboration for a greener future 

Throughout my career, I’ve come to appreciate the multifaceted nature of driving environmental change within a corporate context. While my personal values were shaped by my upbringing and influenced by my friend’s eco-conscious lifestyle, it’s within the professional realm that I’ve truly realized the collective impact we can achieve.  

As I’ve navigated various roles and experiences, I’ve seen the importance of every individual’s contribution, regardless of their job title. From our frontline team members ensuring efficient resource usage in our restaurants brings a unique perspective and skill set to the table. It’s about fostering a culture where sustainability is weaved into every aspect of our operations, from procurement practices to community engagement initiatives. 

My journey from skepticism about corporate sustainability to actively driving change within organizations has taught me that it is a collaborative effort. It’s about transcending organizational boundaries and working together toward a common goal. Through continuous learning, personal sustainability practices and advocacy efforts, I strive to inspire others to recognize the role they can play in building a more sustainable future for all. 

About the author

Guest Author

These are posts about DFW companies that we curate and give attribution to the original author.