Environmental sustainability is a passion that has stuck with Tanya Nunez, manager of Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) at Amgen, since she was a child living on the Southern California coast, not far from where Amgen is now headquartered just outside Los Angeles.
"Growing up as a Native American, taking care of the environment was instilled in me at a young age." Nunez says. "Also, we lived near a Superfund site (a federal designation for locations in the U.S. with high levels of hazardous pollution) called Ormond Beach, one of the few remaining coastal wetlands in Southern California and home to several endangered species in Ventura County. So I saw environmental devastation firsthand."
Growing grass-roots projects into global cleanup efforts
Nunez brought that history of environmental service with her to Amgen in 2003, when she took a role cleaning laboratories for Manufacturing Support, but it wasn't until she moved to EH&S that she got the opportunity to put her passion to work for the company.
"Officially, my job was biohazardous waste disposal—I was wearing steel-toed boots, driving a flat-bed truck to pick up medical waste from different buildings," Nunez recalls. "But when the person in charge of the Medical Waste program, and Earth Day, stepped down, I took over. I was happy to support Amgen's efforts."
That was a turning point for both Tanya and certain sustainability efforts at Amgen, as she went on to spearhead several high-profile initiatives and volunteer programs for Amgen, including an Environmental Speaker series, global volunteer efforts such as annual coastal cleanup, plant restoration and trail maintenance on both the mainland and the Channel Islands, as well as Amgen's Global Environmental Champions contest. The Environmental Champions Award recognizes staff who contribute to environmental initiatives within Amgen.
"The coastal cleanup events started as a grass-roots project—my director gave me permission to organize a beach cleanup for my own team—but I soon realized that many other people were interested in participating," Nunez says. "Now it's a global effort, and we've been doing it for more than 15 years."
A recognition program that rewards Amgen staff for launching sustainability projects
This Earth Day, April 22, Nunez is taking her environmental sustainability commitments a step further by helping launch a new initiative for Amgen staff called the #HealthyPlanet Recognition Program. The program offers incentives and recognition for Amgen staff who go above and beyond to create programs and activities that support Amgen's sustainability goals, while also adding value for the organization.
What makes the new program unique is that it integrates with the company's internal employee recognition platform, so staff who implement programs or complete initiatives can receive rewards in recognition of their efforts. Some examples of #HealthyPlanet efforts that qualify for recognition include organizing local van/carpools for staff coming to an Amgen site, implementing a sustainability policy for a department, and training staff to use equipment more efficiently in ways that measurably reduce energy, water or waste for the company.
In addition to helping launch the program, Nunez was also the first recipient of a #HealthyPlanet recognition award thanks to her work improving sustainability efforts at Amgen.
"I have been very fortunate to work for an organization that lets me pursue my passion for environmental sustainability," Tanya says. "I always get excited when I have the opportunity to create something that supports the environment, and I'm so pleased that I can help get more staff engaged with our sustainability efforts."