To manage our waste effectively we've focused on:
- separating waste at stores and distribution centres into different types for recycling
- reducing the amount of product packaging
- introducing reusable packaging for some products
- improving the way we forecast catalogue and flyer distribution
- offering customers a recycling service for large electrical appliances
- encouraging customers to recycle water filters, batteries and light bulbs
- offering customers carrier bags only when they need them.
What we’ve done
We have made great progress in reducing the overall amount of our waste and have achieved a 10% reduction in our total waste compared to last year. And we are continuing to increase recycling with 91% of all our waste being recycled. These two facts together – the fall in overall waste and rise in recycling – have reduced our landfill waste by 90% since 2006/07, down from 50,000 to just 5,000 tonnes.
We've successfully cut the waste that our stores, distribution centres and offices sent to landfill by reinforcing the importance of waste segregation for recycling and encouraging our colleagues to do their bit. The Argos ‘Cares’ programme encourages colleagues to segregate waste at store, preventing it from going to landfill and minimising the impact on the environment. This year, regular auditing of stores’ waste and the introduction of league tables to create competition amongst stores has helped to drive recycling even higher.
We've signed up to the WRAP home improvement sector packaging initiative (which targets a 15% reduction in retail packaging on own brand and direct sourced product by 2012, compared to 2007). We are ahead of the target with a 25% reduction achieved to date.
We launched the reusable sofa bag last year for our upholstered furniture. This has already cut packaging by 1,500 tonnes and we are extending this concept to other product ranges including mattresses, kitchen plinths and baths. The sofa bag won two highly commended awards at the 2011 UK Packaging Awards for 'Supply Chain Solution of the Year' and for 'Sustainable Pack of the Year'.
Homebase introduced new transit and retail packaging across the whole paint preparation category, including brushes, roller and paint trays. This reduced packaging across the category by more than 100 tonnes, and made the product easier for customers to open and helped them to recycle.
We recognise that customers want to view the products we offer in many different ways; online, via mobile applications, Argos TV and via the catalogue, which remains a key part of the way we supply our customers. Improving the way we forecast and manage catalogue and flyer distribution has helped us achieve a 7% reduction in paper volumes compared to last year – down to 106,000 tonnes from 114,000 tonnes in 2010/11, with four million fewer catalogues printed. All our publications are recyclable and can be locally recycled after use.
We are continuing our efforts to encourage customers to use fewer carrier bags and have achieved a 47% reduction in carrier bags this year (compared against 2005/06).
We introduced carrier bag charges in Wales in October 2011 as required by legislation, and have seen a fall of approx 85% from last year’s totals for Argos and 91% reduction for Homebase.
Single-use Carrier Bags Charge (Wales) Regulations 2010
Record for the period 1 October 2011 to 6 April 2012
| Argos || Homebase |
|Number of chargeable bags supplied ||313,306 |
|Total received from the sale of bags ||£15,665.30 |
|Net proceeds of the charge ||£7,117.24 |
|The difference between the total amount received from the sale of bags and the net proceeds of the 5p charge is made up of the following: |
|Compliance costs ||£5,415.00 || |
|VAT included in the 5p charge |
| £3,133.06 || £224.69 |
Monies raised from the 5p charge will be donated to Keep Wales Tidy to support environmental projects in Wales.
We are always looking at innovative ways to reduce our waste or put our waste to positive use:
- supplying catalogue carrying handles instead of placing catalogues in carrier bags
- stick on handles which allow customers to carry large boxes, rather than taking a big bag
- catalogue pallet covers that keep out the rain and reduce unnecessary wastage
- continuing with on-pack recycling information on all own brand products to help customers recycle more effectively
- recycling Christmas trees
- customer recycling facilities – allowing customers to recycle their old Brita water filters, batteries and light bulbs (at Homebase only) free of charge in store. We'll also pick up their old kitchen appliances for recycling too and provide information about disposing unwanted furniture.
- bed recycling scheme in conjunction with Silentnight Beds
We're not a manufacturer, but our actions have an impact on climate change. That's why we set ourselves challenging targets for energy consumption and vehicle fuel efficiency. It's not just the environment that benefits if we succeed, it also makes good business sense and saves us money by reducing our energy consumption and carbon emissions.
Our priority is to reduce CO2 at source, so we don't participate in any carbon offset schemes. We've committed to reduce our carbon footprint (per sq ft) by 40% by 2020 (compared to 2006 levels) by:
- cutting energy consumption in our buildings
- improving commercial transport efficiency.
What we’ve done
Our carbon footprint has reduced in both buildings CO2 and commercial fleet CO2 giving an overall reduction in emissions of 9% last year.
We are proud to have achieved the Carbon Trust Standard in 2010 and are working with the Carbon Trust for re-accreditation.
Total energy used in our buildings fell by 13% substantially ahead of our annual target of 2%. This was in part attributable to the milder winter in 2011/12 but also to the ongoing energy efficiency measures we are putting in place across stores.
We have continued to install automatic meter readers (AMRs) for electricity and gas across our stores and sites with 98% of our entire estate now being monitored in this way. Automated meter readers provide regular analysis of use on an hourly and daily basis, helping us to spot problems and manage consumption much more effectively. Read more in our 'Energy Matters' case study.
We have seen great results in some of our energy efficiency measures in stores and distribution centres, such as the continued programme of replacement stockroom lighting and the installation of movement sensing lighting that produces a 20% saving on each stores electricity consumption.
We have increased fuel efficiency by 1% compared to last year by implementing best practices such as speed limiters. We have also reduced the total distance travelled by our fleet by 9%.
These two actions together have reduced our commercial fleet CO2 emissions from 87,000 tonnes to 79,000 tonnes.
During 2011/12 we have been working with our third party transport providers for them to supply emissions data relating to their mileage and operations which support our business, giving us a fuller picture of the emissions for which we are responsible. It has proved to be more complex than we anticipated so we will continue to work to improve accuracy of the data before publishing it. Last year we suggested this added 6% to our reported total, and this remains our best estimate.
The average CO2 emission from our company car fleet has dropped from 141.3g/km 2010/11 to 132g/km which compares very favourably with the national average of 154g/km.
We aim to reduce our water consumption. Most of the water we use is for cleaning our vehicles, watering the plants for sale in Homebase stores and for sanitation. We can now measure water consumption at most of our sites and we have made significant progress in reducing our water costs. We continue to use collected rain water to wash vehicles and also for watering in three Homebase garden centres.
We are installing ways to reduce our water consumption, like the waterless urinals in Homebase stores which can significantly reduce the total volume of water used in each store.