Viridor commits to being an ESG leader with launch of new strategy

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At an event in the City of London today – attended by investors, customers, and policy makers – Viridor launched its first ESG strategy since becoming a standalone business in July 2020.

As part of the strategy, Viridor outlines major commitments to drive performance across environmental, social and governance metrics. 

The strategy has three major targets:  

  • Best in sector health and safety performance by 2025   
  • A fully circular plastics recycling and reprocessing business by 2025  
  • A net zero carbon business by 2040 and a climate positive business by 2045 – removing more CO2 a year than the total fossil carbon emissions it generates. 

The strategy reinforces Viridor’s net zero commitments, including programmes focused on reducing the fossil content of non-recyclable waste and deploying carbon capture technology at its Runcorn facility – one of the UK’s largest Energy Recovery Facilities. As proof of its progress on ESG thus far, Viridor has submitted a bid for Runcorn to be one of the first Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) projects selected by the Government in the North West’s HyNet cluster. Installing CCS at Runcorn alone could save over 0.8 million tonnes a year of CO2, while also capturing biogenic CO2 to generate negative emissions.  

But this ESG strategy is just one part of the equation. Another critical part is the Government’s Green Taxonomy which it is set to consult on by the end of the year. More detailed rules on what counts as sustainable investment are then due to follow.  

The Taxonomy will shape investment across the economy and must therefore play a critical role in supporting the transition to net zero and a circular economy. It is vital that this framework supports decarbonisation of the waste sector – the UK’s seventh biggest emitter. To do this, the Taxonomy will need to classify key areas of the waste sector as green, including removing polluting plastics from the waste stream and capturing carbon from waste treatment processes. This will ensure that ESG-aligned funds can invest in delivering ESG strategies. If the sector is not included, there is a risk that investment will fall short of what is needed.  

A recent report by Anthesis outlined the scale of the opportunity to invest in recycling infrastructure alone – £1bn of investment in infrastructure would end the export of plastic waste and create over 2000 direct and supply chain jobs. Viridor is committed to working with the Government and partners across the sector to ensure that the policy drives this much needed investment. To help the UK recycle more of the waste it produces, Viridor aims to reach full circularity across all four major plastic types by 2025.  

Viridor’s CEO Kevin Bradshaw commented: “Leading on health, safety, decarbonisation, and circularity is where we can make a meaningful difference. By classifying waste decarbonisation activities as green investments, the Government could unlock more investment into UK infrastructure and build on the UK’s leading net zero targets. Viridor is committed to becoming a net zero company. Policy will be a huge factor in how fast and far we can move on this journey.” 

On health and safety specifically, Viridor has refreshed its award-winning HomeSafe programme to improve its health and safety score. Richard Robinson, Viridor’s Director of Health and Safety, added: “We must ensure everyone goes home safe every day, this is the first and most critical step to running our business. Health and safety is central to our ESG strategy to ensure that our people, visitors, contractors and communities where we operate know that we are one of the safest operators in the sector.” 

Dr. Tim Rotheray, Director of ESG at Viridor said “This is a significant milestone in Viridor’s journey since becoming a standalone business in 2020. We have had the opportunity to completely reassess our focus on ESG and we are determined to play a leading role in transforming the waste sector.” 

Read Viridor’s full ESG strategy here


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