Carillion CEO hails 2013 as ‘a good year for sustainability’

Carillion chief executive Richard Howson has stressed that sustainability is a vital ingredient for business success in today's markets and can make a clear contribution to the bottom line.

He said 2013 was ‘a good year in terms of sustainability’ for the support services company and that its green drive saw it deliver £22m of value, either through cost reductions or improvements in value across the group.

“Surprisingly we still hear discussions that sustainability is either a ‘nice to have’ or, worse, something that companies can’t afford, but this misses the point,” he said.

“Sustainability can make a powerful contribution to profit as well as operational delivery. Becoming a more sustainable business goes hand-in-hand with becoming a more successful business.”

Howson was commenting on a company report launched last week, detailing progress on Carillion’s 2020 sustainability strategy. It shows that in 2013, Carillion met its target for waste diversion, surpassed its target for reduced water consumption, but failed to meet its fuel and gas reduction goals.

On the waste front, the company diverted 91% of material from landfill through a targeted focus that included designing out waste in selected operational segments and strengthening its relationship with waste management providers, including Go Green and SITA.

A waste intranet site has been set up to act as a central hub of information for the business, with tips and advice on best practice. In addition, contract teams in the Middle East now compete to demonstrate their waste performance via monthly league tables.

Overall, however, the amount of waste created through the business increased by 23%, relative to a decrease in turnover. The company said this was largely due to improved reporting and change in work type, especially in the defence sector in services where it has undertaken more major projects.

On the agenda

On water use, Carillion exceeded its 2013 target to reduce consumption by 8% – operational water reduction (normalised by turnover) was 27%, while absolute water reduction was 12%. The company intends to step up its water reduction activities in 2014, with a focus on using water-saving technologies more widely, and recommending sustainable designs such as rainwater harvesting to its clients.

Across the Carillion estate in the UK, aerators have been installed in 90% of taps. Waterless urinals are also used, alongside other methods to reduce the amount of water needed for flushing.

The company acknowledged more work was needed to drive forward its low-carbon agenda. It only managed to reduce fuel purchase by 3% (set against a 25% target) and fell short of its target to reduce gas consumption across its office base (18% set, 13% achieved). Going forward, Carillion will reframe its fuel purchase target and look to optimise its measurement techniques in this area.

Video: Carillion Sustainability Report 2013

Maxine Perella

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