Virgin Media hails ‘biggest carbon reduction ever’ following major efficiency drive

Telecoms giant Virgin Media has recorded its "biggest ever" annual carbon reduction, with emissions falling by 6.1% between 2014 and 2015 as a part of the firm's 'Digital for Good' sustainability programme launched last year.

In a sustainability update released yesterday (3 August), Virgin Media outlined its first-year progress on its five-year Digital for Good plan to achieve five separate sustainability and CSR goals.

The company, which expects its broadband service to reach 17 million premises by the end of 2019, managed to achieve a 6.1% reduction across its Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions, despite significant business growth.

The emissions reduction was largely achieved through a massive cut back in truck fleet journeys, with the Liberty Global-owned organisation reducing the number of vehicle journeys by more than 800,000, equating to more than 2.3 million miles. This is more than double its original journey reduction target of 300,000.

Moreover, the company was able to increase the data on its network by 45% while reducing the CO2e per terabyte of data by 35%, again indicating a separation between business growth and emissions reductions.


Writing in a blog post about these results Virgin Media UK’s head of sustainability Katie Buchanan said: “We’re growing our business in a way that’s good for people and the environment. There are plenty of case studies from the last year that demonstrate this… but there is always more to do.”

On that last point, Buchanan conceded that meeting sustainability goals for Virgin’s car and van fleets has been a particular “challenge”. Whilst still on track to achieve the ultimate 2020 goals, not all of Virgin’s 2015 reduction goals were met.

For instance, the group achieved a 2.9% improvement in its van fleet miles-per-gallon range, falling short of its 5% target. It also failed to hit its 2015 target for car fleet emissions – after aiming for a reduction of 100g CO2/km, Virgin instead arrived at 102.4gCO2/km, down slightly from 103gCO2/km in 2014.

Virgin Media’s report does, however, go on to report successes in the other areas of its Digital for Good strategy. Key CSR developments included raising more than £130,000 through employee fundraising to donate to Virgin’s charity partner, Scope; an increase of women in senior roles by 2% to 32%; a 14% increase in the Virgin Media Pioneers small business support programme; and the release of a scorecard to measure the environmental and social impacts of company products.

Virgin Media’s sustainability update also represents a step change in the methods that large corporations are using to report on their sustainability and CSR progress. Alongside an array of infographics, videos, social media promotions and blog posts, the firm has just unveiled the below ‘360-degree’ video which provides an immersive experience of the company’s sustainability vision.

VMSust360: Virgin’s sustainability vision brought to life

Virgin Media was a finalist of edie’s 2015 Sustainability Leaders Awards within the Sustainability Reporting category, shortlisted for its commendable attempts to push its CSR reporting in to the digital age.

The 2016 Sustainability Leaders Awards are now open for entries. View the full list of categories and enterat

Alex Baldwin & Luke Nicholls

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