Making big strides in improving our environmental footprints

Making big strides in improving our environmental footprints

An investment programme, combined with better management procedures, were responsible for a continued improvement in the Guardian's environmental performance in the last financial year.

GNM's reporting of environmental performance aims to cover all aspects and impacts within the boundaries we can control. However, we acknowledge that it may be impossible to cover all areas. We are continuing to try to expand our knowledge and data but our priority impacts are:

Not only did we lower our carbon emissions and water consumption last year, but we also improved recycling rates and made advances in sustainable sourcing.

As a result, GNM more than met its 10:10 commitment to reduce emissions by a tenth in 2010. In fact, we reduced our measured carbon emissions by 27% in the year ending March 2011.

Given that we co-founded the 10:10 campaign, which urges individuals, businesses and organisations to reduce their carbon emissions, it was only right that we were able to show leadership by lowering our own impacts.

Our environmental performance has been acknowledged by GNM becoming one of the first 500 organisations in the UK to be awarded the Carbon Trust Standard (CTS), in recognition of its work to reduce its climate change impacts.

The standard is awarded to organisations which have shown carbon reductions and put effective systems in place for carbon management, ranging from policies and investment to people and training.

Achieving it involved an audit of three years of data at the Guardian's offices and print sites and an assessment of how carbon thinking is embedded into business culture and practice. The certification process confirmed that the GNM reduced CO2 by 4,422 tonnes or 28% over the past three financial years ending March 2010. For more information click here.

We have expanded GNM's carbon footprint to include a wider boundary of our impacts, which now embraces paper manufacture at the mills, print wholesale distribution1 and the printing of our magazines2 by contractors. Graphics 3

The continuing expansion of this boundary through our supply chain means that our baseline footprint has changed in the last year and will continue to do so over time. For example, our offices in 2009/10 represented 41% of our footprint and now reflect just 13%.

Based on this wider boundary, the emissions captured in our footprint rose to 31,869tCO2 in the financial year ending March 2011. But on a comparative basis, carbon emissions fell by an impressive 27% compared with the previous year. The biggest savings were achieved through purchasing paper from mills with lower carbon emissions.

Looking through a slightly different lens, we reduced carbon intensity by 19% to 14.6 tonnes of CO2 per £100,000 of turnover, based on our wider boundary.

In terms of our directly owned operations, including offices, print sites and business travel, we saved 9% against last year. This was achieved through a combination of investment, improved efficiency, environmental management and reduced operations.

Our two Guardian Print Centres in Manchester and London (Stratford) achieved efficiency gain of 1.7% in emissions per copy, even though the number of printed copies fell. London achieved 16.3gCo2 and Manchester 21.1g per copy in 2010. London GPC's emissions per copy is lower than Manchester due to efficiencies available through economies of scales. London prints 50% more copies than Manchester.

However, business travel emissions rose by 15% due predominately to increased journalist flights to and across the Middle East during the Arab spring and trips across the Atlantic to set up our expanded New York office. Carbon Inventory

GNM is producing a carbon inventory to identify where GNM's business activities are linked with the generation of greenhouse gases and other environmental impacts. The process sets out all the activities that are directly and indirectly related to GNM businesses covering print media, digital media and our other commercial ventures. These activities may generate greenhouse gases as a result of the material inputs they draw into the system, the processing or activity itself, the intended outputs and waste generated.

These activities have been grouped into five distinct areas or stages that occur within the media process and form GNM's Media Life Cycle (see fig.1): Creation of editorial and commercial content

Delivery of printed newspapers, of digital content through the Internet and of exhibitions, events and other publishing Use or consumption of GNM content, services, products by the customer.

Whist we will ensure a comprehensive picture of GNM's potential total carbon footprint, it is not realistic to maintain a carbon inventory that includes all emission sources. In line with best practice, GNM has set an initial inventory boundary that seeks to cover its primary emission sources, with the aim of progressively expanding the boundary over consecutive years.

Water is a precious resource and we are conscious that we must improve our understanding and monitoring of usage. In areas of the business where we do monitor water, we are managing to reduce it.

The two print plants achieved actual water reductions of 14% or 1.6 million litres between 2009/10 and 2010/11. This was achieved by a reduction in leaks, more efficient cleaning processes and the introduction of PIR sensors in the toilets.

We recognise that the effects of our consumption of natural resources has effects beyond what we see in our waste bins. Sustainable sourcing as well as more considered or reduced consumption are essential to our sustainability ambitions.

Both print sites have significantly reduced their use of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in our printing process by eliminating the use of solvents in the press cleaning process and font solutions. VOCs are dangerous to both humans and the environments.

Paper consumption is not only our number one carbon source but also our largest direct impact on the environment. In the last financial year, 96% of the newsprint and 82% of magazine grade paper used for the Guardian and Observer was either recycled or used certified virgin fibre. We also invited both WWF and Greenpeace to come to the Guardian and critique our performance.

Our catering suppliers, Baxter Storey, have minimum targets on how much food is sustainably sourced, including local, organic and fair trade produce. Through Global Generation, one of our community partners, local young people studying for a BTEC in horticulture take our canteen waste, grow food and sell it back to us for use in the staff canteen.

Anglo, our office suppliers, have an agreed aim to identify opportunities to reduce environmental impacts of the products they purchase on our behalf. Currently, 48% of products purchased for GNM by Anglo are from recycled or certified sources. This includes office paper, stationery and catering supplies.

While office waste has a relatively low environmental impact, compared with our other activities, it has a high visibility for staff. In fact, the issue came up repeatedly in workshops held with departments across GNM to look at sustainability objectives.

GNM has had a chequered history in this area and it was discovered in 2010 that while we were collecting waste in four separate bins, when it was being picked up at the back door, it had all been dumped into just two separate containers. Another issue is that some staff contaminated the recycling bins with food waste and the metal recycling bins had sharp edges which often meant waste spilled out and could therefore not be recycled.

Despite this, a concerted effort meant that we just exceeded our target of increasing office waste recycling to 65% in the financial year ending March 2011. No waste now goes to landfill and waste to incineration fell by 47 tonnes. This success was tempered by the fact that total waste volumes are increasing. For example total paper waste increased by 114 tonnes. Investigation is on going to understand why more paper waste has entered the system.

In an attempt to improve the efficiency of our waste and recycling, we recently launched a new scheme at the Guardian's headquarters building in Kings Place called Love Your Waste. The campaign is an attempt to show staff that what they throw away is not rubbish but represents a valuable resource. We have also streamlined the waste collection, improved siganage and replaced the bins.

Initial results show that the improved signage are helping to reduce contamination.

Our Manchester print site operates a closed loop recycling scheme with one of our paper mills, Palm. Waste paper is collected from the print site and taken to a local mill where it is processed back into newsprint. In addition, the Manchester site is investigating how best to segregate waste streams to maximise their financial value.

Comments (0)

This thread has been closed from taking new comments.