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Viridor releases 2018 Sustainability Report and urges wider industry reporting against UN goals

22nd October 2018

Viridor has released its 2018 Sustainability Report, drawing on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as its benchmark for defining performance.

Dan Cooke, Group Head of Sustainability for Viridor’s parent company, Pennon, said the resources and waste management industry would benefit from wider and consistent reporting against the UN SDGs.

He said: “There are currently some pretty broad and loose interpretations of corporate social responsibility within our industry. However, there are methods that can help us better define sustainability, including frameworks such as the Global Reporting Index, Business in the Community’s Corporate Responsibility Tracker, and, especially, the UN’s SDGs.

Mr Cooke said “Increasingly externally-measured indices are already providing detailed scrutiny and assessment of the sustainability performance of larger companies.  These include the FTSE4GOOD, Sustainalytics and the Carbon Disclosure Project. ”

He added: “There is, therefore, a whole range of methods and frameworks which companies can use to define sustainability and what it means for businesses.  These are potentially complex and confusing, and arguably present a good reason for any sector to focus on the leading set of indicators, that is to link with the UN SDGs.”

He said Viridor, for the third year running, had aligned its report to the eight most relevant Sustainable Development Goals for its business.

Mr Cooke said: “Our business is about bringing resources to life. We take our responsibilities towards the environment and to wider communities seriously and aim to ensure that we can demonstrate progress towards sustainability in everything we do.

“The Viridor Sustainability Report shows our business performance for 2017-18, including a selection of case studies.  The report also includes our end of year performance against the SDGs as well as our specific annual sustainability targets, and lays-out our current (2018-19) targets.  Transparency and accountability should be at the heart of reporting for our sector.

“Vital higher levels of recycling and resource productivity forms part of the solution to a more sustainable economy. This delivers jobs, investment and resource and energy-security contributions. For example, Viridor’s £1.5 billion investment in our advanced recycling and energy recovery facilities portfolio has supported thousands of construction and supply chain jobs.

“In 2018-19, Viridor ERFs will receive 2.9 million tonnes of residual waste (including joint venture facilities), producing 242MW electricity, enough to power 400,000 homes (a city the size of Birmingham). Once the total committed ERF portfolio is completed in 2020/21 they will receive 3.2 million tonnes of black bag, non-recyclable waste and provide 276MW of energy generation capacity.

He said Viridor also aimed to increase its contribution to improved UK resource efficiency through support and membership of initiatives such as the UK Plastics Pact, and the Green Alliance’s and Business in the Community’s Circular Economy Taskforces, each delivering cross-sector collaboration and benefits.

Mr Cooke said: “In calling for the wider resources and waste sector to consider how best to demonstrate our contribution to a more sustainable UK, we firmly believe that there is a clear benefit to reporting against the emerging SDGs framework.  40% of the world’s leading corporates are already using the SDGs, despite the relatively recent 2015 launch, and
$12 trillion market opportunities have been identified globally.

“The downsides of not using the SDGs, include the risk of losing the public’s trust through becoming increasingly out of sync with the leading companies and organisations and with the wider society.  This is an opportunity for our sector to be proactive, to take the lead and build trust in the services and benefits we can deliver in a consistent and responsible way.”

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