Reducing waste and resource consumption
Read about how we’re reducing our consumption and usage to reduce our impact on the Earth.
This area of our website offers information about some of the things we do as a responsible business. For information about how you could go green and how we’re helping UK homes become greener please visit our Going green page.
What's on this page
A zero waste to landfill organisation since 2015
We are committed to increasing the proportion of waste we recycle to 70%, and reducing the total volume of waste we produce by 50% by 2030 (from a 2019/20 baseline).
We need to make sure the choices we make are sustainable. Reducing the waste we generate is a key part of this. Since 2015, no waste produced across our locations has been sent to landfill. It is reused, recycled, or sent to an energy recovery facility. This aligns with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal to promote responsible consumption and production.
There is always more that can be done. We are looking at opportunities to reduce waste streams and improve circularity. As part of this, we are entering into a relationship with a new waste management provider that will help us gain more accurate information about the waste collected from our branch network. It will also give us the opportunity for even better waste segregation and recycling.
Reducing plastic usage
Our ambition is to eliminate single-use plastics from our operations by 2025.
Removing single-use plastic items from our catering services
Over the course of 2018 and 2019, a team of colleagues from our annual Arthur Webb Challenge Cup were instrumental in removing 11 million single-use plastic items from our supply chain. This included items like plastic stirrers, straws, cups, cutlery, and other unnecessarily plastic everyday items. We have maintained this momentum, and non-recyclable food packaging is now being removed. We are also moving away from vending machines that use plastic cups, in favour of ones that require a reusable cup, mug or bottle.
Additionally, we are looking at small actions. We are returning to making teas and coffees ourselves, rather than relying on the plastic pods needed for coffee makers in our branches. These changes all play an important part in reducing unnecessary waste.
Reducing the plastics and waste we ask our members to use
Following a successful pilot in 2020, we now only issue card readers made with recycled plastics to our members. We were the first major UK bank or building society to take this step.
We have established a ‘tech take-back' partnership with HPE Financial Services. This ensures all our IT assets are reused, resold or recycled. In 2020, we refurbished 98% of our IT assets and recycled the remaining 2%. By refurbishing and recycling equipment such as laptops, monitors, mobile phones and servers, we kept 109 megatons of waste from landfill in 2020 alone (data supplied by HPE Financial Services, Jan–Dec 20).
Reducing plastic usage across our Branch Network
In 2019, a staggering 140,000 single-use plastic bags (data supplied by our third party, Santander) were used to deliver cash to the Network. Through collaboration with our supply partners, we ran a successful pilot in September 2020 and now deliver cash wrapped in paper bands, significantly reducing our plastic waste footprint.
Reducing waste associated with branch uniforms
We have changed the way we source and dispose of our branch uniforms. This includes the removal of over 30,000 plastic hangers as part of the roll out of our latest uniform. We are also significantly reducing and reusing plastic and cardboard packaging. We are careful to recycle any old uniforms, splitting the items between our recycling partner Race Recycling, who specialise in non-paper based recycling, and the Salvation Army, who remove all Nationwide branding to sell in their stores.
“We recognise that the goods of today need to be resources of tomorrow. We’re actively seeking out ways to reduce, reuse, repair and recycle and to support the transition to a circular economy.”
– Andrew Tuck, Head of Property Services
Covid-19, protecting our people and the planet
During the Covid-19 pandemic, we sought to protect our people and the planet by procuring reusable face masks. We also installed a cleaning product refill station. It’s estimated this stopped approximately 1.9 million disposable masks and 128,000 plastic bottles being disposed of between June 2020 and May 2021.
The mask calculation is based on 3,800 full time retail colleagues using 2 disposable masks a day, five days a week for 52 weeks. And for bottles, an average of 3.7 bottles not used in each branch across 660 branches for 52 weeks.
Reducing water usage
By 2030, we are targeting a reduction in our water usage by 10% from our 2019/20 levels. To help reach this target, we have installed water saving devices, such as automatic taps, dual flush cisterns and waterless urinals in our admin centres.
By replacing water-supplied cooling systems, with air-supplied cooling systems in our data centres, we saved almost 14 million litres of water each year. That’s equivalent to more than five Olympic-sized swimming pools. This was instrumental in creating a 7% reduction in water consumption, from our 2019 baseline.
Reducing our reliance on paper
Most of the paper we use is made up of at least 70% recycled content and we are striving to find solutions to use 100% recycled coated paper. This is important because a tonne of paper from 100% recycled material conserves about:
- 26,497 litres of water
- 17-31 trees
- 4,000 KWh of electricity (enough to power an average house in the UK, for a year).
Figures taken from Green Forest - 100% recycled paper.
|Towards a more responsible use of paper|
|April to March||2016-17||2017-18||2018-19||2019-20||2020-21|
|Premier paper (kg)||278.7 kg baseline||4% ↓||15% ↓||29% ↓||80% ↓|
|Recycled paper (kg) (2019-20 baseline)||No data||No data||No data||8,339 kg baseline||16% ↓|
Data supplied by our third party, Antalis
Good progress has been made in reducing the volume of non-recycled paper we use. Regulatory measures prevent us from removing all paper communications with members. However, wherever possible, we do provide digital alternatives. This includes:
- A digital annual report
- sending more product literature via email
- encouraging members to receive digital statements.
The mass move to homeworking following the emergence of Covid-19 presented environmental opportunities. One of the many positive changes is the behavioural shift away from relying on printers. This has resulted in a significant reduction in the use of paper and printer ink. As some people start to return to our offices, we want to continue those more environmentally favourable behaviours by reviewing how our printers are used.
Where printing does still take place from our offices, we ensure printing ink is vegetable based, non-toxic and biodegradable, wherever possible. We are also in the process of rolling out new printing standards and policies that will include measures in our admin buildings. This includes restricting printing to black and white, and only using recycled paper for all non-member facing printing. We will continue to monitor the data to see where further improvements can be made.
Widening our approach to carbon reduction and environmental protection
We continue to encourage employees to use alternative arrangements like video conferencing or homeworking. We’re also making our business travel more efficient and effective and reducing the daily commute.
Supporting low-carbon transport technologies
We’re promoting Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEVs), such as hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric vehicles, by adding charging points across our administration sites. We also participated in a European trial with the Hydrogen Hub. This trial helped the local infrastructure in Swindon have the ability to support hydrogen fuel cell transportation.
We work closely with public transport providers at our larger buildings
To encourage our colleagues to use public transport we have arranged seminars by public transport providers. The providers explain their service and showcase the latest apps that make travelling easier. Our Property Services team works with the providers, checking current routes and schedules against our people’s requirements. This includes checking for earlier, cheaper, quicker and more accessible services, in order to incentivise greater adoption of public transport.
Last updated 4 February 2022