However, according to the international tobacco company’s 2012 sustainability report, published this week, the reduction was  primarily due to a fall in production volumes.

The report also showed that absolute water use decreased by 4.9% in 2012 but since 2007 it has achieved a 22% water reduction.

The company aims to reduce its water use to 3.6 cubic metres per million cigarettes equivalent produced by 2017, a 26% reduction from its 2007 baseline.

BAT says that moisture content in the cigarette production process is crucial. If it is too dry the tobacco leaf crumbles; too moist and it may spoil during storage.

The blended tobacco is treated with steam and water to make it supple and is then cut into the form used in cigarettes. Excess moisture is then removed so the cut tobacco can be given a final blending and quality check.

Despite a reduction in water use, energy use remained relatively stable at 10.31 gigajoules per million cigarettes produced, which equals 2011 usage. Against a 2007 baseline, the company has made a 13% reduction in energy use.

In absolute terms, energy in 2012 decreased by 2% largely due to a fall in production and sales volumes, alongside various energy efficiency initiatives.

CO2 was also steady in 2012 at 0.81 tonnes per million cigarettes produced, although absolute CO2 reduced by 2.5% primarily for similar reasons as those for energy use.

In addition, the company has made progress towards its long-term targets having achieved a 41% CO2 reduction from 2007.

Company waste sent to landfill decreased by 29% to 0.012 tonnes per million cigarettes produced, also driven by the fall in production volumes, alongside an increase in recycling rates at a number of sites, while, against its 2007 baseline, the company achieved a 52% reduction.

The Group’s chief executive, Nicandro Durante, said: “To grow our business we must operate sustainably – creating shared value for our shareholders and society in a challenging and changing landscape.”

Leigh Stringer

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