Jo Dow - Business Stream

Playing our part to help protect the planet

As a responsible business, whose customer base includes over 27,000 public sector sites across the UK, we are committed to making a positive difference to the environment and we play a key role in helping our customers reduce their water use.

Over the past thirteen years our customers have saved over 52 billion litres of water – the equivalent of almost 21,000 Olympic-sized filled swimming pools. And since being awarded the Scottish public sector framework contract in April 2020, we’ve saved the sector nearly £1.4m in water saving costs and 885,000m3 of water (the equivalent of 354 Olympic sized pools) through discounts and efficiency solutions.

Practicing what we preach

But we are also very aware that in addition to helping our customers reduce their environmental impact, we need to look inwards at what we can do as an organisation. The recent scientific report published by the UK’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change clearly outlines the extent to which this is an issue we can’t afford to ignore.

In recent years we have launched a number of initiatives to help drive our efforts to become a circular office, including removing all plastic bottles from our vending machines; providing re-usable bottles and coffee cups to all colleagues; and increasing our recycling facilities. These steps, in addition to promoting behavioural change, have all made a positive difference, but we know that we need to do more.

Our journey to net zero

The Scottish Water Group, which we are a part of, has an ambition to become net zero by 2040 – five years ahead of the Scottish Government target. We want to play our part in contributing towards this goal by taking proactive steps to reduce our carbon use.

The starting point for us has been understanding our current carbon footprint. By doing so, it has helped to remove the guesswork, and enabled us to identify opportunities to reduce our environmental impact. As a business our carbon use isn’t high, but there are still improvements to be made. We wanted to agree a stretching target that would keep us focused and help drive innovative thinking.  As a result, last month we launched our pledge to reduce our carbon footprint by 20% over the next 12 months.

To help achieve this, we will be introducing a series of measures including reviewing our fleet, adapting our paper use and printing processes, re-evaluating our business travel policy and working with our contractors to ensure they are taking steps to limit their emissions. In addition, we’re keen to maintain some of the reductions that have been achieved organically during lockdown.

Recognising the importance of making behavioural changes both at work and at home, we are also encouraging our colleagues to take action to reduce their own carbon use. This includes sharing useful tips and tools and resources, such as the Count Us In platform which individuals can use to identify practical steps to reduce their own carbon pollution.

Collective effort

Taking the first step can be a daunting task, and we are certainly learning as we go, but there are lots of great resources available to help demystify net zero and provide practical advice for individuals and businesses of all shapes and sizes.  As a utility provider we’re committed to supporting all of our customers to reduce their water use to help protect the planet. We all need to take proactive steps to reduce our impact on the environment and with COP26 fast approaching, there has never been a better time to do so.

Join Business Stream and fellow public sector experts, including local authority insight, on our PSE365 virtual event panel discussion around Water Efficiencies at 2pm today. Register to join here.

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