Environment in Focus: Responsible Business in Action

The world is waking up to our growing planetary emergency: from governments setting tighter targets, to extended producer responsibility across the whole lifecycle of products. And from investors controlling trillions of dollars of capital requiring business to tackle climate change, to millions of young people striking from school to demand a liveable future.  

The time for talking is over and business needs to be in the driving seat. We are delighted that Business in the Community (BITC) members are at the front of tackling these shared challenges.

Our UPS Environmental Sustainability Awards finalists have amazing stories to tell about how they are tackling issues from plastic waste to logistics to enabling sustainable communities. They are turning impact into action across sectors and aspects of the environment.

For instance, CitySprint is putting machine-learning algorithms at the heart of low-carbon delivery strategyJames Cropper is rescuing the valuable fibre in disposable paper cups on a commercial scale, while Midcounties Co-operative is focusing on energy saving and supporting their communities to live more sustainably. 

Morrisons and Sky are tackling single-use plastic in their supply chains and operations, while The Pure Option is working in this area by manufacturing 100 per cent compostable, plant-based packaging as a replacement.

Our campaigns
More than 100 companies have signed the Waste to Wealth Commitment. This brings together business, government, academia and civil society with the aim of doubling the nation’s resource productivity and eliminating avoidable waste by 2030.

The Circular Economy Taskforce is helping every business drive change through the circular office programme, while the Water Taskforce is supporting food supply chains to help farmers with land stewardship, and making cities more resilient by creating green spaces.

Headlines from the finalists for BITC's Responsible Business Awards 2019: The UPS Environmental Sustainability Awards

1. Machine learning is driving efficiency 
The use of cloud-based, information-heavy technology is helping companies to boost efficiency and the environmental sustainability of their operations. Delivery business CitySprint is using 15 years of historical delivery data to auto-allocate jobs, reduce delivery mileage, times and empty return journeys, helping to cut emissions and get traffic off of the roads.

2. Big investments in low-emissions vehicles
CitySprint has doubled its plug-in electric vehicles in the past two years, launched the first hydrogen van for logistics in the UK and its zero-emission fleet now makes up more than 20 per cent of its total London fleet.

3. Partnerships are key
Many sustainability challenges will not be solved by any one company alone, and collaboration is key. James Cropper’s pioneering recycling process to tackle the great disposable-cup recycling challenge is possible thanks to partnerships with the likes of Costa, McDonald’s, and Starbucks which have installed 4,000 cup collection stations nationwide.

4. Community engagement is crucial
Linking community interests to corporate sustainability programme is seen as crucial to sustaining long-term plans. Midcounties Cooperative’s Sustainable Communities scheme has enabled the business to engage with its members to help them tackle climate change issues. Its energy business now has 333,000 customers in total, all buying 100% renewably sourced energy.

5. Plastic is the new carbon
The issue of plastic waste has captured the public imagination – and triggered plenty of corporate commitment to remove single-use plastic from products. Morrisons, encouraged by customer feedback, has set some big goals. By 2025, 100% of the company’s own-brand plastic packaging will be reusable, recyclable or compostable, and it will contain 30% recycled content on average.