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
This means no waste produced across our locations is sent to landfill. It is reused, recycled, composted or sent to an energy recovery facility. This is in accordance with the United Nations sustainable development goals, promoting Responsible Consumption and Production.
Our circular economy principles
These ensure that the choices we make are sustainable, reduce the waste we generate and responsibly align residual waste streams to valuable recycling and/or energy generation processes.
We are committed to increasing waste recycling to 70% and reducing the waste we produce by 50% (from a 2019/20 baseline) by 2030. This will primarily be through initiatives that support reduction and/or re-using items that would currently be viewed as waste, as part of our circular economy approach.
Reducing plastic usage
Our ambition is to eliminate single-use plastics from our operations by 2025.
11 million single-use plastic items removed from our supply chain
A huge thanks for the efforts of the Anti-Plastic Fanatics. This cross-Society group of colleagues joined forces to tackle single-use plastics for our internal annual innovation event, the Arthur Webb Challenge Cup. With their help, over the course of 2018 and 2019, we removed 11 million single-use plastic items from the supply chain. This included items like plastic stirrers, straws, cups, cutlery, and other unnecessarily plastic everyday items.
Reducing material use. Championing reuse and recycling
In 2020, we began rolling out card readers made with recycled plastic. We also established a ‘tech take-back’ partnership with HPE Financial Services. This ensures all our IT assets are reused, resold or recycled. We refurbished 98% and recycled the remaining 2% in 2020. By refurbishing and recycling equipment such as laptops, monitors, mobile phones and servers, we’ve kept 109 megatons of waste from landfill (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 partners, we ran a successful pilot in September 2020. We now deliver cash wrapped in paper bands, significantly reducing our plastic-waste footprint.
“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
Coronavirus, protecting our people and the planet
During the Coronavirus 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
We have set a target to reduce 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.
Changing the way we cool our buildings
By using new technologies to replace traditional water-cooled devices, we’ve saved over 14,000,000 litres of water per annum in our data centres.
Increasing recycled 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 (opens in a new window).
|Toward 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.
Whilst printer use is down, we recognise this is an artificial measure as our colleagues were largely working from home in 2019 and 2020. Where printing does still take place from our offices, wherever possible printing ink is vegetable based, non-toxic and biodegradable.
Carbon neutral commuting
We’ve set a commitment to be ‘carbon neutral’ for employee commuting by 2030. To achieve this, we’re encouraging employees to continue using alternative arrangements like video conferencing or home-working. We’re also making our business travel more efficient and effective and reducing the daily commute.
Introducing low-carbon technologies in our company car fleet
We’re promoting Ultra Low Emission Vehicles (ULEVs), such as hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and electric vehicles, and adding charging points across our administration sites. We also participated in a European trial with the Hydrogen Hub. This helped us build infrastructure to support the next generation of zero-emissions transport, such as hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles.
We work closely with public transport providers at our larger buildings
Providers hold seminars for our colleagues, explaining their services and showcasing 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 e.g. earlier, cheaper, quicker and more accessible services.
A partnership with car-sharing experts, Liftshare
To help reduce carbon emissions and fuel costs, we've created a website with Liftshare that enables people to share car journeys to work. Our workspaces are designed to help our people choose where, when and how they want to work, with many opting to work from home. The scheme will help reduce costs, better collaborate and innovate, strike a good work-life balance, and improve environmental performance.