PwC decouples emissions from business growth with 28% carbon reduction over 10 years

EXCLUSIVE: PwC's head of corporate sustainability has stressed the importance of setting ambitious environmental targets and engaging with other company departments after revealing that the professional services firm has exceeded a 10-year carbon reduction goal.

Speaking at edie Live in Birmingham this week, Bridget Jackson stated that she expects PwC’s absolute carbon emissions to have fallen by 28% by the end of next month, beating a 25% carbon reduction target set against a baseline year of 2007 and effectively decoupling environmental impacts from business growth.

“We drew up a progressive roadmap in 2012 and the language was deliberately ambitious to inspire people and rouse them,” Jackson explained. “Every year, I get people from across the business – from facilities, procurement, HR, client and markets, and corporate merchandise – together and we revisit the roadmap to assess how well are doing and to see if we need to update our vision or make it more ambitious. We don’t all work together on this – we’re spread across the country. But the plan has always been to be streamlined and efficient.

“As we started to deliver small milestones, the confidence grew. Having the absolute carbon reduction target in particular really helped us to go and look at everything right across the business and investigate the various solutions and treatments that we might be able to deliver.”

Energy, waste, water

PwC had also set 10-year 50% reduction targets for energy, waste, paper and water by July 2017. On energy, the group looks set to just miss out on hitting that ambitious goal, with consumption currently down by 48%, resulting in £20m gross savings over the 10-year reporting period.

The firm’s paper reduction target has been exceeded, with 59% less paper now used across the business compared with 10 years ago, generating almost £4m in savings.

The water reduction target, meanwhile, looks set to be missed, with PwC currently achieving a 41% reduction in water consumption from the 2007 baseline, supported by the deployment of various new systems such as waterless urinals and water-efficient taps. Jackson said it will take a couple of years for the company to reach the 50% goal.

On waste, PwC had set an aspirational goal to recycle 100% of its waste by July 2017. Jackson stated that the group is “stuck at 80%” and is seeking a viable solution to achieve the final 20%. “We need to find a suitable food packaging solution,” Jackson explained.

“Internally, we’ve switched to Vegware which we can compost, but externally we’ve still got composite materials coming into the business and, until we can do something better than recover energy from incineration, then we’re stuck at 80% on the recycling.”

Next steps

Due to PwC’s extensive travel requirements across the business, the group had set itself a target to hold carbon emissions from business travel flat against the 2007 baseline, and Jackson confirmed this target looks set to be successfully met by the July deadline.

Going forward, Jackson revealed that PwC has set itself a new business purpose, “to build trust in society and solve important problems”. This purpose will underpin a new sustainability strategy which will be published in September and will have a close alignment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

LISTEN: PwC’s Bridget Jackson on the edie podcast

Bridget Jackson is among the special guests featured in the latest episode of edie’s Sustainable Business Covered podcast. In the podcast, the edie team broadcast live from the edie Live show floors, incorporating an array of interviews with some of the standout speakers from the event.

Listen to part one below and subscribe to the podcast for free here.

Luke Nicholls

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