Today, we introduce Viridor’s first full Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) report since becoming a standalone company in 2020.
This ESG report is our public statement of our progress and challenges to deliver a truly sustainable business.
The past year was one that saw a dramatic transformation of the Viridor business. The launch of a new strategy and the move to a core focus on energy recovery and plastics recycling saw the divestment of our non-core waste operations. These included the collections business, the landfill and landfill gas business and certain recycling contracts and assets. As a result, we entered the year as one business and finished it reshaped as a new entity, one with a clear purpose for the future – to build a world where nothing goes to waste.
Read the full report here - Viridor's ESG Report 2022
Financially and environmentally, it was a year of success as Viridor continued to deliver sustainable growth in UK resource recovery and recycling. With a de-risked infrastructure model, our revenues from operating assets were principally backed by profitable long-term contracts and continue be so.
The year was significant for ESG globally, with the delayed COP 26 climate conference taking place in Glasgow. The attention that COP 26 brought not only to the global climate, but to environmental issues more widely, was what drove us to focus on the environmental elements of our ESG strategy throughout the year. As climate continues to move up the agenda for our customers, the finance community and governments, it was important that we set out our ambitions for Viridor.
In May 2021, we committed to becoming a net zero business by 2040. On our critical technology path was carbon capture and storage. We worked with industry and the Government to open up a new avenue of opportunity, successfully arguing for a dedicated policy mechanism to support Energy Recovery Facilities to participate in the UK carbon capture and storage programme. In response, we developed and submitted a proposal to the Government to capture c.900kT of CO2 a year at our Runcorn facility. In a world that is changing fast and needs to change faster, it is essential that here at Viridor we become a driver of change.
The refocussing of our recycling business enabled us to develop a targeted circular economy strategy based on building a circular economy for plastics. Plastics are increasingly cited in environmental debates for the harm they cause when entering the environment. At the same time the resource and climate benefit of using plastics compared to alternatives is increasingly well documented. The mismanagement of plastics represents a strategic risk to the packaging and recycling sector. Already, poor consumer sentiment is pushing a driver to alternative packaging often with a higher carbon or ecological footprint.
In response Viridor’s ESG plans were developed to focus on the four most commonly used plastics with an ambition to achieve circularity across these four by 2025. We also set an ambition to end plastic waste exports. A UK-wide end to plastics waste exports would improve traceability of plastics recycling and create jobs and investment across the country, aligning business growth and ESG performance. As plastics in the waste stream account for c.70% of Viridor’s fossil carbon footprint and, recycling of plastics generates emissions six times lower than virgin material, it became clear that decarbonisation and plastics circularity were intertwined in our business.
For Viridor, it was a seismic year, as we continued to operate an essential service throughout lockdown while also carrying out a major strategic review and subsequently divesting and restructuring our business. Having successfully completed this year of transformational change, with ESG now central to everything we do, Viridor is set for the future. - Kevin Bradshaw, CEO
With some major commitments made, we turned our attention to developing our formal ESG strategy. The strategy had to integrate all our activities that contribute to being a successful business that does good in society. A critical aspect of any successful ESG strategy is integration with the wider business strategy. This ensures that delivering ESG performance is aligned to both where the business can make material change and where there is commercial opportunity to do so. Without this, ESG sets up an internal tension with economic success pulling against ESG performance.
Central to our thinking on the full strategy was aligning the S and G of ESG with the environmental commitments we had already made. Critically at the heart of this is our people, and in particular, the delivery of our health and safety strategy. The dedicated SHEQS team developed a new roadmap to deliver material improvements in leading and lagging indicators of health and safety performance. The success of this was seen in a reduction of our key All Injuries Frequency Rate (AIFR) metric to 4.34 down from 6.27 – a 31% improvement.
Building on this, we also launched a new trust and engagement survey to establish a baseline against which we could develop our people engagement strategy. In a year of so much change, it was vital to engage with the people who make our business success. Launching our first ever internal awards programme aligned to our new values and purpose was a vital way to connect our environmental and social concerns directly with individuals and teams.
This the first full year for Viridor as a standalone business. It is also the first year covered by all the ESG metrics used in the report and which we will continue to monitor in the future. We know that ESG delivers when we combine stretching ambition with accurate data collation and reporting to track progress.
Read the full report here - Viridor's ESG Report 2022
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