A sustainable business
Building a sustainable future that doesn't cost the earth
We have engaged widely with employees, communities and customers to guide our strategy and its implementation in practice.The SUEZ recycling and recovery UK strategy also reflects our contribution tothe UN's Sustainable Development Goals, evolving legislation, and the growing demand for transparency and disclosure by businesses.
The result is a series of headline themes underpinning our triple bottom line strategy and principles that we have agreed for advancing sustainability locally. The eight headlines are a guide to the areas where our decision-making can have the greatest business-wide impacts.
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 recycling and recovery 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 solid recovered fuel.
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, commitment to 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.
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:
- 1.7 million megawatt hours of electricity
- 71,000 tonnes of compost from green and food waste
- 700,000 tonnes of alternative fuels
Our passion for the environment is enacted through our work, but also biodiversity action plans with 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 have raised £0.5 million for our national charity partner Macmillan Cancer Support to date.
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.
In 2021, the operations of SUEZ recycling and recovery UK began to emerge from the long shadow of COVID-19. We managed to put more waste to good use and stepped up our support for communities while increasing turnover and profit.
This contribution to our triple bottom line – people, planet and profit – was achieved despite ongoing pressures of staff absences and other uncertainties. Great credit is due to our people for the resilience and commitment they’ve shown.
However, it’s not back to business as usual and cannot be for any company committed to sustainability. As our own transformation for the circular economy shows, embedding our triple bottom line strategy in every aspect of the business requires continuous reinvention and renewal.
During the year, we renewed our purpose: Building a sustainable future that doesn’t cost the earth is an aim that our people can relate to every day. We all work to preserve material resources, put them to best use and recover value from residual waste. As we do so, we protect the environment, serve our customers and support local communities.
We made significant advances on all fronts during 2021.