Royal Mail was the first postal services operator in the UK to achieve the Carbon Trust Standard. In September 2012, we successfully achieved recertification. This was in recognition of our robust approach to measuring, managing and reducing our carbon emissions. This widely recognised standard “certifies organisations for real carbon reduction and commitment to reductions” (Carbon Trust).
Over the last year we have worked on updating our environment strategy. We have established a new Environment Governance Board to help drive our performance. We published a new group-wide Environment Policy to strengthen our approach. This outlines our commitment to conducting business in an environmentally responsible manner.
Managing our footprint
Climate and energy
Royal Mail Group’s operations emit greenhouse gases (GHGs) through the energy used to power and heat our buildings and, most significantly, the diesel fuel used for our logistics and transport of mail.
Our target is to achieve a 20 per cent reduction in our UKPIL emissions (including Scopes 1, 2 and 3) by 2020-21, compared to a 2004–05 baseline1. We achieved a 3.5 per cent reduction in our UK carbon footprint in 2013-14, generating around 705,200 tonnes compared with 730,800 tonnes in 2012-132. We focus on driving efficiencies in our buildings and in fleet and fuel, which contribute around 34 per cent and 65 per cent respectively to our carbon footprint. This includes integrating efficiencies such as LED lighting in our building estate; more double deck trailers in our fleet, carrying up to twice as many letters and parcels in every journey; and improving driver behaviour, towards improved safety and fuel efficiency.
Our waste strategy is structured according to the 5 Rs: refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle and reform. We diverted 71 per cent of waste from landfill last year, achieving our 2014-15 target of 70 per cent one year ahead of schedule. We did this by raising awareness amongst our employees of the importance of separating waste and by making recycling easy.
Water is a precious (and increasingly costly) natural resource. We are seeking to reduce our consumption and have fitted over 1,000 water saving devices to toilet cisterns to conserve water. We encourage our employees to identify and report leaks to help prevent water wastage. Our new buildings, such as our Northampton and Medway Mail Centres, incorporate innovative water saving features such as rainwater harvesting and smart water meters.
Working towards ISO 14001
Royal Mail Group is continuing its journey towards the Environmental Management System standard ISO 14001. Following a pilot study, 14 of our large Royal Mail processing sites are now certified to ISO14001. In the coming year we are aiming to achieve certification in a further 14 sites. Parcelforce Worldwide has 100 per cent of its operations accredited. In Europe, GLS has achieved ISO14001 certification across 17 countries.
Sustainable products and services
We recognise that businesses and consumers want to improve the environmental performance of their mailings and we aim to provide them with the products and services to do so.
We are committed to helping the mail industry meet the UK Government’s environmental targets for direct marketing. We continue to work with the Direct Marketing Association to ensure we are consistent with PAS 2020, the industry standard for reducing the environmental impact of direct marketing.
Royal Mail created Sustainable Advertising Mail, and its wholesale equivalent, Responsible Mail, so that our customers can meet their environmental commitments whilst continuing to market in the way that works for them. Those that use these products receive a price incentive and are able to demonstrate their commitment to recycling, sustainability and reducing waste.
Mailing house scheme
Royal Mail operates a mailing house scheme that promotes a high standard of mail presentation and addressing accuracy. The Scheme incentivises mailing houses financially to be environmentally responsible. To be eligible, the mailing house production facilities must be environmentally accredited and provide a valid certificate to Royal Mail as evidence of this. 105 mailing houses have achieved the standard.
Forest Stewardship Council
Royal Mail was one of the first postal operators in the world to have its stamps and philatelic products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) – meaning they have been made with fibre sourced from responsibly managed forests. FSC is a system of forest certification and product labelling that promotes the use of materials from well-managed forests and recycled sources.
In 2011 GLS Germany launched the ThinkGreenService, a carbon-neutral shipping service. This allows customers to offset the emissions associated with delivery of their parcel through a certified reforestation project in Malaysia. In 2013-14 around 585 tonnes of CO2 was offset through the ThinkGreenService.
We believe that Parcelforce Worldwide was the first UK carrier to offer a Woodland Carbon service. Customers can choose to donate 5p for a UK delivery or 10p for an international delivery to offset carbon that would be produced by conveying their parcel. Investing in Woodland Carbon supports the protection and expansion of forests and woodland that absorb greenhouse gases and neutralise residual emissions.
Case study: GLS ThinkGreen
In 2008, GLS launched its ThinkGreen environmental initiative to coordinate and actively promote environmental activities. The programme has three key aims: to use resources responsibly; reduce emissions; and optimise waste management. Key initiatives to help GLS achieve these objectives include: modernising the fleet and buildings, optimising transport planning and implementing local green measures. Initiatives range from tree planting in Hungary to a carbon neutral shipping service in Germany.
A network of 25 environmental representatives helps integrate the ThinkGreen vision and promote best practice across the Company. They have supported the implementation of the ISO14001 environmental management system (EMS) across 19 subsidiaries.
ThinkGreenis also the driving force behind the rollout of GLS eco-depots. Constructed using recyclable materials and making use of heat pumps, rainwater harvesting and photovoltaic cells, the eco-depots have reduced energy and water consumption, meaning a reduced environmental impact as well as reduced business costs. GLS opened three new eco-depots during 2013-14, at Habay and Nivelles in Belgium and Steinabrückl in Austria. This brings the total number of eco-depots in GLS to 15.
1 Our 2004-05 baseline represents CO2 rather than CO2e
2 CO2e emissions for 2012-13 have been restated from 746,500 tonnes, in accordance with revised Defra emission factors.