Xerox aiming for verified science-based target for 2018

EXCLUSIVE: Printing services company Xerox intends to have a verified science-based target in place when it launches new sustainability goals in 2018, as part of a commitment to the Paris Agreement that has been years in the making.

Xerox’s annual sustainability report was released last week, detailing a 28% reduction in carbon emissions against a 20% target set for 2020. The company is already looking ahead to next year’s report, where it wants to unveil a verified science-based target that aligns a carbon emissions reduction with the 2C goal of the Paris Agreement.

For the company’s vice president of environment, health, safety and sustainability Wendi Latko, hitting the target early created an ideal opportunity to embed climate science into the business, after an original commitment to the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTI) was put on hold in 2016.

“It was timely that we achieved our 2020 goal,” Latko told edie. “We’ve separated from a services business and because of that we needed to re-establish our reductions baseline.

“It’s frankly convenient for us that we can close out the 2020 goal ahead of time and use 2017 as the new baseline. We are planning and have set in place the process to have a verified science-based target when we name our new goal in 2018.”

Xerox committed to the SBTI before the Paris Agreement was even agreed or ratified. The 20% goal that has now been surpassed was originally issued as a science-based commitment in conjunction with CDP’s Road to Paris initiative.

However, the separation of the company into two entities meant that much of the data had to be recalibrated. In June 2016 Xerox announced that it had separated into two publicly traded companies. The former “business process outsourcing” arm of the company was named Condeunt, while the more energy-intensive technology arm remained as the Xerox Corporation.

While Xerox is still part of the 324 companies that have committed to the initiative, it hopes to join the 84 companies – including M&S, Tesco, Mars, HP and Kering – that have approved science-based targets in place.

Target timeline

Although Xerox is setting new emission targets, many of the current goals will remain in place. Latko revealed that a goal to send zero-waste to landfill (currently 94% of waste has been diverted), and a goal to design 100% of new products to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star standards (which it is on course to meet) will remain as 2020 goals.

In 2016, Xerox exceeded a goal to reduce water consumption by 35% against a 2010 baseline, four years ahead of schedule. Annual water consumption is down 43%, with production declines and water recycling driving the reduction.

Latko revealed that the areas of waste and water were “almost exclusively related to our technology business”, which is why targets are yet to be reset.

Xerox’s carbon reductions to date have been achieved by utilising energy-efficient technologies such as Emulsion Aggregation (EA) toner, which generates 28% fewer emissions, and energy management and equipment upgrades.

Some efficiencies were driven through the use of renewable energy, specifically at Xerox’s Netherlands facilities and renewable energy certificates used at an Oregon facility. The company is targeting 20% renewable energy use by 2020, but Latko revealed that the separation had slowed progress in this area.

“The renewables target was set in 2015 as part of the Road to Paris initiative,” Latko added. “In 2016, the separation was announced and there were huge implications for our real estate holdings, the target had to go on hold while Xerox figured out what it would retain.

“Now the separation has been completed, we are in active discussions with the real estate and energy procurement group to put the plan in place and meet the target from 2020.”

Xerox’s carbon-reduction journey began in 2003, when the company made a public commitment by joining the EPA’s Climate Leaders programme. Looking ahead to 2018 and beyond, Latko believes that the Internet of Things (IoT) will help the company drive energy efficiency and related carbon emissions further, for both consumers and Xerox’s own operations.

Matt Mace

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