A sustainable business
The SUEZ group is a Lead corporate member of the UN Global Compact, committed to supporting the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Our commitment is backed by challenging targets set out in the group’s Sustainable Development Roadmap and Shaping SUEZ 2030 strategic plan, and reinforced by the group's performance in extra financial ratings including the DJSI World index and CDP A list.
As well as making our UK contribution, we are developing other supporting strategies and moving to a new framework for measuring and reporting our performance in terms of economic, environmental and social results.
In the UK, we are also members of Global Compact Network UK, UK Business Council for Sustainable Development, Social Enterprise UK and Social Value UK.
Our themes and headline commitments
Lead by example
Embed the environment and social value at the core of how we do business, to make an increased difference year-on-year.
Create a network of sustainability champions to empower and support employee action and develop our understanding of the key issues we face.
Reduce the carbon emission intensity for each tonne of waste we handle for our customers and our own activities per employee year-on-year.
Expand our network of re-use facilities to increase the volume of items reused, repaired or repurposed.
Improve the environmental, social and economic impact of our supply chain year-on-year.
Continue to be a good neighbour in the local community, taking part in local events and increasing what we spend with local suppliers.
Take action at every SUEZ location to improve its natural environment.
Share our knowledge and expertise to develop the resources sector, influence public behaviour and build a future workforce as part of the UK's creation of a sustainable future.
Powering the circular economy
Sustainability requires an economic revolution to close the loop of the production and consumption cycle, so that the value of resources is fed back into a circular system – whether as materials, wastewater or energy.
SUEZ in the UK has pioneered the circular economy as a concept and business model. We have re-engineered and diversified our business. Today, we are resource managers, power generators, fuel manufacturers, commodity traders and suppliers of high-quality products – from compost to closed water systems and bespoke biocides.
If we are to support our customers’ transition to the new economic reality, we must be agile and continue investing in innovation, advanced processes and new facilities.
We are committed to:
- Extracting as much value as possible from our customers’ waste and water processes.
- Improving the productivity, quality and profitability of their resource use and water-based products, processes and services.
- Developing new, sustainable techniques and solutions, and the treatment and production infrastructure to apply them.
- Providing our services as efficiently as possible, so as to promote the commercial sustainability of our own company and our customers.
- Maximising the positive socio-economic impacts we make through local employment and sustainable procurement.
Local to global action for the environment
From the outset, protecting the environment has been at the heart of what we do. Environmental responsibility is embedded in our business model and strategy as we sustain the value of resources, conserve natural capital and enable the low-carbon economy.
Our values – notably, passion for the environment – underline this. In all our services, we strive to go beyond regulatory compliance by surpassing environmental standards wherever we operate, reducing our resource use and decarbonising our activities.
The SUEZ group’s Sustainable Development Roadmap set a series of challenging targets for the five-year 2017-2021 period, including:
- Reducing direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions by 10% in 2021 and 30% by 2030.
- Helping customers avoid more than 60 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions over the period.
- Doubling the volume of plastics recycled.
- A 10% increase in production of renewable energy.
Shaping SUEZ 2030 further reinforces the group’s climate strategy with three new targets aligned with the 1.5°C global warming limit advised by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC):
- Reduce our own direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030 (raising our Roadmap target by 15%).
- Develop 100% sustainable solutions for our customers.
- Help customers avoid 20 million tonnes of CO2e emissions a year (raising our Roadmap target by 66%).
In the UK, we are investing in new facilities and advancing technologies such as waste gasification, anaerobic digestion, and smart management of water networks, including advanced energy software.
The sustainable value we are creating is significant. Over a year, from waste alone, we generate:
- 1.5 million megawatt hours of electricity
- 71,000 tonnes of compost from green and food waste
- 600,000 tonnes of alternative fuels
Our passion for the environment is enacted through our work, but also the global campaign #SUEZ4oceans and local action, including biodiversity measures to encourage plant and wildlife at all our sites.
Valuing people and community
We recognise our responsibilities to our people, neighbours and the local communities where we work.
The SUEZ core value of respect inspires us to value diversity and the social impact we can achieve, and to act with integrity at all times. Our activities create social value. We can now quantify these benefits at project, community and company level, which informs our decision-making and our stakeholders.
Safety is our first duty of care. Our employee-developed Safety in Mind programme fosters a safety-first culture and has won industry awards. This is backed up with robust safety management and targets for continuous improvement.
People from all levels of the organisation are represented on our Works Council. Independently-assessed surveys show healthy levels of engagement among employees. We have been recognised as one of the top places to work in the UK – most recently in The Sunday Times Top 25 Best Companies to Work For 2020.
Our people also engage with the communities we serve. Activities range from volunteering for beach clean-ups to fundraising events. Together we raised more than £250,000 for our national charity partner Macmillan Cancer Support over five years.
We are committed to shaping a sustainable environment, raising awareness of environmental issues and sharing what we know. We provide tools and resources for teachers, schools and parents to help bring environmental learning to life, and host tours in our visitor and education centres across the country where groups can come to learn about the journey of waste.
We also operate the SUEZ Communities Trust. This not-for-profit body funds worthy projects from a share of the landfill tax we collect on behalf of government. More than 4,000 community groups have shared £110 million since its creation in 1997.
2020 was a year like no other in living memory. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted our daily lives, transforming the way we live, work and play, whilst disproportionately affecting our most disadvantaged communities. At the same time, natural disasters such as the Australian wildfires brought renewed urgency for action to avert the climate crisis we already knew was looming. In these unique circumstances, a new-found sense of community was born and, with outdoor pursuits our only leisure option for many months, we reconnected with our natural environment.
Our teams rose to the challenges we faced, maintaining our essential services to customers and reaching out to support their local communities, while finding new ways to protect and enhance our natural environment.
We also took our long-standing commitment to the triple bottom line – balancing people, the planet and prosperity – a stage further, embedding this approach throughout our business.
This report outlines the progress made in 2020 towards balancing our triple bottom line.