The Time for Talking is Over: 14 examples of acting to aid the environment

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Business in the Community’s (BITC) Environment Leadership Team is supported by three taskforces focusing on: Circular Economy; Net-Zero Carbon; and Water. Here members explain how they are turning words into action.

“It’s time to stop talking and get acting. Science has proven that climate change and global warming are happening. Unsustainable consumption of resources is compounding the risks to our planet and to us. Ricoh has taken action for more than a quarter of a century, devising the Comet Circle to circularise the flow of materials and resources for reuse and recycling rather than disposal, extending the lifespan of products and resources. We’ve also had CO2 reduction initiatives globally across Ricoh since 2000, achieving 39.7 per cent reduction by 2015 and now aiming for net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.”
James Deacon, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, Ricoh UK

“2019 feels like a watershed moment; a collective global awakening to the impact of climate change. We must seize this moment and act now so we can live in harmony with the planet which sustains us. At WRAP we continue to work with governments, business and citizens to build a world where we use resources sustainably. Our ground-breaking collaborative action in driving up recycling, and tackling the environmental impacts of plastic pollution, food waste and the textile industry is helping build the circular economy we need to forge a future in which both people and planet are able to thrive.”
Marcus Gover, Chief Executive, WRAP

“At JLL, our ambition is to support the transition to a low carbon, circular economy through our own workplaces and through our client activities, as well as by sharing the message with others.  We have circular office projects which have been delivered or will be achieved this year in central London, in Bristol and in Manchester, and we are aiming to unlock more circular office opportunities in the coming year.”
Sophie Walker, JLL UK Head of Sustainability – Building a Better Tomorrow

“The destructive impact on our natural world is now impossible to ignore and it has never been more pressing for business and environmental leaders alike to transition into tangible progress. Veolia is proud of its role as resource leaders in the UK, having spent £2 billion on infrastructure in the past few years with plans to invest another £1 billion in recycling and recovery infrastructure where the framework is right. Now is the time for other businesses to match our stake. Supporting UK recycling will not only create jobs, skills and save materials but will ensure sustainable models are locked into business for future generations.” 
Richard Kirkman, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer, Veolia UK & Ireland

“In this time of climate emergency when both drought and floods are more likely, it’s everyone’s responsibility at look after water in our environment. From making sure we don’t waste water to taking action to not pollute our streams and rivers. The Environment Agency are taking action with Business in the Community, working in East Anglia to find the best way to use data about our environment to help farmers and retailers understand their roles in water stewardship so they can make decisions that protect our water quality and water resources.”
Harvey Bradshaw, Executive Director of Environment & Business, Environment Agency 

“In March, I attended Greater Manchester’s Green Summit where over a dozen young people passionately explained why it is time for action. Really powerful stuff and a stark reminder that today’s action benefits the next generation. Since 2005, United Utilities has planted nearly 800,000 trees helping deliver water, carbon and air quality benefits and reduce flood risk. In Manchester, we were a key sponsor for the world’s biggest tree survey outside the US to quantify the value of trees and are working with partners to plant ‘street’ trees to realise this value
Chris Matthews, Head of Sustainability Corporate Affairs, United Utilities 

“With the UK government declaring a state of emergency on climate and deadlines for preventative action rapidly approaching, simply discussing the sustainability issue is not enough. Businesses need to make a step-change to protect our future and that of our children; and collaboration will be crucial to achieving this. Burger King UK has taken steps to tackle avoidable waste, such as energy, paper and plastic. For example, we have introduced LED lightbulbs, single-item napkin dispensers, and lighter-weight straws. We are also improving our restaurant waste-management, and driving business-wide action by elevating the sustainability agenda across head office, restaurants and franchisees.”​
Tim Doubleday, Chief Financial Officer, Burger King 

“There is an urgent need to address climate change and reverse environmental decline. Actions speak louder than words, so we all need to step up and respond to the challenge. At National Grid, we’re focusing our efforts in areas where we can make a difference, enabling the transition to a low carbon energy network. As well as reducing the direct emissions from our own operations, we’re reducing the carbon from our construction activities. We’re also improving local environments and wildlife through responsible management of the land we own.”
Steven Thompson, Environmental Sustainability Manager, National Grid  

“Despite attempts to increase awareness of recycling, a recent survey by YouGov found that 28% of the UK population would still consider throwing waste metal in the bin. We need to act now to demonstrate to local communities the impact that recycling waste metal has on our climate. We are therefore working on a number of schemes to make the recycling of metal more accessible to all. Through working in partnership, we aim to deliver schemes that will operate at the heart of communities, provide much needed funding and educate future generations on the need for recycling.”
Andrew Brady, Chief Executive Officer, European Metal Recycling

“We can all recognise the monumental call for action to repair and sustain our planet that is gathering pace. Operating in one of the driest, environmentally sensitive and fastest growing areas of the UK, our customers have told us to be more ambitious in tackling climate change and we’ve stepped up to that challenge. I am proud that Anglian Water is a company spearheading action – not talk. Since 2010, we target, measure and report on our operational and capital carbon footprint. We have already beaten industry-leading carbon targets we set ourselves for 2020 and this year Anglian Water and the water industry has set a sector-wide target to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030. Through its every day actions, Anglian Water is demonstrating a responsible and sustainable approach can deliver for our customers, employees, stakeholders and crucially, the environment”
Peter Simpson, Chief Executive, Anglian Water 

“We must act now on the ocean plastic crisis. We are transforming our own business operations through Sky Ocean Rescue, eliminating single-use plastic from our supply chain by 2020. We’ve now gone one step further by proactively investing in solutions. Last year we started Sky Ocean Ventures, an investment fund that supports new ideas and innovators to create meaningful change to the plastics problem. But we can’t do it alone, which is why we also work with partners, like the Premier League and National Geographic, to see how we can take the learnings from our business and help others think and act in the same way.”
Fiona Ball, Head of Responsible Business, Sky 

“We are working hard to further reduce our impacts on the environment. This includes aiming for net zero carbon emissions by 2030 and generating over 500GWh of our own energy from renewable sources by 2025. We’re also reducing our waste to landfill using innovative methods such as turning ash from our sewage works into an aggregate that is used in building blocks, and we are helping our customers reduce plastic waste by installing more than 100 free water refill fountains in partnership with the Mayor of London. All our work is contributing to the UN sustainable development goals.”
Alex Vaughan, Chief Executive Officer, Costain

A pressing concern for the UK is the amount of waste going to landfill. Changing the way we view, consume and conserve materials is important, but we also need the essential infrastructure to support this change. We’re proud to be the leading company behind the UK’s first 3-in-1 waste treatment facility at Allerton Waste Recovery Park in North Yorkshire. AWRP is unique for integrating three processes for the treatment of residual waste – a materials recycling facility, anaerobic digestion and energy from waste. This is enabling the people of North Yorkshire and City of York to maximise recycling and reduce landfill disposal by more than 90 per cent while producing enough energy to power 40,000 homes.
Paco Hevia, Managing Director, Waste Treatment, Amey

“As the largest supplier of renewable electricity to businesses in the UK, Drax plays a unique role in helping companies to take greater control of their energy and be more sustainable. We supply renewable power to help organisations like Gatwick Airport and Edgbaston Cricket Ground achieve their sustainability goals and have launched an innovative EV service, with SES Water as our first customer, to help businesses operate their fleet vehicles more sustainably. If we are to enable a zero carbon, lower cost energy future, delivering effective energy services for businesses, is essential. There’s no time to waste.”
Jonathan Kini, Chief Executive Officer, Drax Retail, which includes B2B energy suppliers Haven Power and Opus Energy

This article was originally published in June 2019.

Business in the Community is innovating to sustain and repair our planet