Royal Mail posts strong water reductions following privatisation

Royal Mail Group reduced its water consumption by 12.6% in 2012-2013, compared to 2011-2012, through a combination of efficiency measures and a reduction of its workforce.

According to the Royal Mail’s latest sustainability report, the company’s delivery offices and mail centres account for around 76% of its water consumption, with the water used in these facilities being “primarily ‘domestic’ in nature”, such as in employee washrooms and catering areas. However, water is also used in cleaning, building maintenance and vehicle washing.

By installing water saving devices throughout its estate the Royal Mail has recorded a reduction in water consumption of approximately 218,000m3 during 2012-2013.

Although this can be partly attributed to a cut in the company’s workforce (around 50,000 job losses in the last decade), new installations such as rainwater harvesting systems have contributed to cuts in usage.

The installation of these systems have been helped by a retrofitting programme, which has seen it more than double the number of delivery offices undergo modernisation during 2012-2013, up from 408 in 2011-2012 to 860, with the remainder due to be upgraded by March 2014.

One example of the recent upgrade is the Medway Mail Centre in Kent, which opened in September 2012. Fitted with a rainwater harvesting system, it is fed by the building’s 15,400m2 roof.

Water is distributed to all facilities that do not require drinking water, for example for toilet and urinal flushing.

The system became fully operational in June 2012 and in the 12 months to June 2013 almost 740,000 litres of rainwater was collected and used throughout the mail centre, representing 19% of the total water used throughout the site.

In contrast, the company recorded a 13% year-on-year increase in its water usage in 2011-2012, which it claimed was due to the improved quality of its water consumption data.

The company, which on October 15 2013 was floated on the London Stock Exchange, has said that this year it will continue to focus on gaining a better understanding of its water footprint and developing a more representative dataset of water use.

In addition, the Royal Mail has reduced carbon emissions per £1m of revenue by 4.2% during the year and exceeded its 2012-2013 target to divert at least 60% of waste from landfill, achieving 66%.

Royal Mail CEO Moya Greene said: “We have strengthened our approach to environmental management during the year. We have established a new Environment Governance Board (EGB) to help drive our performance. The EGB undertook a detailed materiality assessment to review our most significant impact areas, including our targets.

“We have reconfirmed our main environmental focus areas and developed a new Environment Policy. Managing and reducing our impact in a responsible manner will help us save costs, compete more effectively and deliver a good service to our customers,” she added.

Leigh Stringer

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