Sky - Better Products – product sustainability programme

The Sustainable Products and Services Award, Highly Commended 2015, Reaccredited 2016.

Sky has improved the design of its products and services to make them more energy efficient and reduce its use of natural resources, saving money for the company and its customers and strengthening relationships in its supply chain.

What the judges thought

  • Sky has taken a holistic approach to reduce the use of natural resources of its product from product design to end of life through an innovative product life cycle assessment.
  • This sustainable products approach has not only provided environmental and business benefits for Sky itself but also for key stakeholders across its value chain including suppliers and customers.

Environmental and business impacts

  • Energy consumption from the use of Sky’s set-top box has been reduced by 20%, in turn reducing CO2 emissions by 103,500 tonnes.
  • Making new products smaller and more lightweight, improving their design and reducing packaging has cut the use of natural resources.
  • Reduced carbon emissions from distribution, installation, maintenance and repair; for example by switching 2,100 vehicles in Sky’s fleet to a more efficient model.
  • Reduced costs to the business by identifying more efficient ways of working and building in sustainability from the start.
  • Engaged staff and strengthened brand value through communications campaigns and strategic partnerships.
  • Built stronger relationships with business partners by using sustainability as a common language to create a stronger and more resilient supply chain.

BSkyB logoFrom a Life Cycle Assessment of its products, Sky found its biggest use of natural resources is electricity consumption from customers’ use of set-top boxes.

Clever design leads to big savings

As a result, Sky set out to improve the energy efficiency of its products. It had made them smaller and lighter and built in features such as an auto-standby, which sets the box to standby mode after four hours of inactivity during the day and turns it off at night. Along with a recent extension to the length of time eco mode is on for overnight, this all saves Sky’s 11.5 million customers in the UK and Ireland around £25.5 million a year in bills and cut CO2 emissions by 122,700 tonnes per annum.

Alongside this, removing the need for ancillary products has saved 800,000 kg CO2 emissions a year. Reducing the amount of cable needed for Sky’s newest router means it has saved enough cable to stretch 1.5 times the length of Great Britain. It has also replaced its 96-page printed user manual with an online version, saving over 16 truckloads of paper a year.

As well as reducing the energy consumption of its products, Sky has reduced carbon emissions from its logistics, switching 2,100 out of 2,850 vans for more efficient models. Designing the box so the software can be updated remotely has also helped make it more reliable and durable.

Embedding sustainability

Sustainability is embedded into the business, empowering all parts of the value chain, both within Sky and for its partners. A staff engagement campaign has helped raised awareness across the business through regular articles and competitions on the intranet.

All Sky’s products are reused or recycled in UK. The company has saved around £7 million in the last three years through repairing and refurbishing boxes, generated revenue of £1 million a year from recycling and built stronger relationships in its supply chain.

The company has also invested in investigating the use of conflict minerals and rare earth minerals in its supply chain and ensuring they can be recovered at the end of a product’s life, going beyond what is legislatively required in the UK to do so.

What Sky's Head of Responsible Business said:

Better Products is an integral pillar of Sky’s approach when it comes to designing new services for its customers, and it continues to drive change within the business and beyond. The future at Sky is exciting, and our talented teams are always pushing the boundaries in their roles within Sky, with our partners, and also beyond within the industry at large to drive more sustainable products.- Fiona Ball, Head of Responsible Business