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As a famous song goes, “If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make that change”. So, as we mark Earth Day 2023, I want to share some of the things that People’s Partnership is doing to reduce the impact we’re having on the environment.

Cutting our energy usage

We all know that if we can cut down on the amount of energy we draw from the grid then it can help move us towards a more sustainable future. LED lighting is proven to be a more efficient way of lighting office space, which helped influence our decision when moving into the Manhattan Building. We’re also putting together plans to upgrade the lighting system in our main office to LED. Coupled with that, we regularly review how and when we use air conditioning within the offices – further cutting down on emissions and the amount of electricity we use.

Over the years, we’ve become mindful of how employees travelling to work impacts the environment. We’ve had a cycle-to-work scheme running for several years now, as well as cash incentives for staff switching to public transport and dedicated shower facilities to encourage walking or cycling to work. Within the last 12 months we’ve introduced electric vehicle charge points in the car park at HQ – providing another green option for employees.

We make sure we purchase 100% green energy where we can, but it’s not just about electricity. Water is also a valuable commodity, and globally we need to improve how it’s managed. Our approach has been to undertake a usage review to understand how we can reduce water consumption and wastage in the business. Some recommendations have already been put into place, with more in the pipeline.

Green initiatives

Protecting the environment is an important cause for many people, which is why we have ‘Green Champions’ within our business to help identify and set-up green initiatives. Creating natural habitats for pollinators is a great way of boosting biodiversity on a small scale, so one of our initiatives has been the promotion of bee and butterfly friendly planting around our building.

On a slightly larger scale, we partner with Fruitful Office which is an organisation set up to plant fruit trees in Africa. For every basket of fruit we purchase for our staff, Fruitful Office will plant 1 fruit tree.

Reducing landfill waste

It’s inevitable that a business of our size is going to generate some waste. But it’s what we do with that waste that’s important. To limit the amount of food waste, we’ve partnered with Olio – a food waste company – to help those in the local community benefit from good quality food that would’ve otherwise have been binned. In the short time we’ve been working with them, almost 30kg of food has been saved, helping to feed over 40 local families.

We also recycle all the food waste from our canteen at HQ into biofuel.

In addition, we’ve taken action to reduce the amount of plastic waste we generate. Our drink vending machines operate on an ‘own cup’ or ‘Eco Cup’ basis, and we’ve removed plastic cutlery and packaging from our canteen.

For the waste that is created, we’ve teamed up with a zero-to-landfill supplier who use an energy recovery facility not too far away in Kent. Waste that is unable to be recycled and would ultimately have ended up in a landfill is turned into energy, which not only powers their huge industrial plant but is then also sold back to the grid to power local homes and businesses.

Nothing goes to waste at this facility as any ash by-product is recycled and made into materials for the construction industry, as well as steam from the furnaces being pumped straight into the paper mill next door.

What’s next?

We’re proud of what we’ve achieved so far, and we know it’s only the first step. As our understanding grows of what we can do to run our business in a way that is compatible with our environmental goals, we’ll undoubtably make further changes.

For example, we’re already exploring the feasibility of installing solar panels on the roof of our main building. And we’ll be collaborating with an environmental consultant to establish what can realistically be done to reduce our carbon emissions.

As a company founded with a social purpose, we see our ongoing commitment to reducing the impact we have on the environment going hand-in-hand with doing what’s right for our members and society.