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Environmental sustainability

Managing our environmental impact through sustainable banking

Protecting the environment and promoting sustainable development have always been cornerstones of our Ethical Policy. We support small businesses and organisations whose activities promote a healthy environment and we seek to minimise our impact on the environment.

We support international efforts to tackle climate change, actively support organisations whose activities promote a healthy environment, and we do not provide banking services to customers that conflict with our commitments.

How we promote sustainable development

Reporting on our carbon footprint

We have reported our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for over 18 years. We measure our direct GHG emissions in carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2 e) using the latest UK government guidance. Our direct GHG footprint encompasses energy consumption, refrigerant leakages from major occupancies and all business travel (air, rail and road). All greenhouse gas data and related commentary is externally assured.

We are 'beyond carbon neutral'

We continued to source the majority of our electricity from renewables in 2017. We also maintained our ‘beyond carbon neutral’ status for the ninth consecutive year, offsetting our operational greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, plus an extra 10%, which addresses the impact our business has had on historical CO2 emissions. We do this by supporting carbon reduction projects, identified through climate and development experts ClimateCare.

Through our 2017 offsetting programme, we reduced carbon emissions by 3,428 tonnes. As well as offsetting our carbon emissions, these projects provide additional benefits for people and the environment around the world through their support for the Gyapa Stoves and LifeStraw Carbon for Water projects.

Through our support for the LifeStraw project in 2017, we have helped to provide over 4.5 million litres of clean, safe water to over 4,000 people in Western Kenya.

In total, this project cuts 2.4m tonnes of CO2 emissions annually and brings safe drinking water to more than 4.5 million people, with some 877,505 families using LifeStraw Family water filters to purify water in their home, rather than boiling water for drinking over open fires.

In 2017 our support for the Gyapa clean stoves project in Uganda has helped to give access to clean cooking for over 8,000 people.

Since our support for these two projects began in 2015, we have helped improve the lives of over 63,000 people through clean water and clean cooking.


In 2007 we were the first bank to issue customers with PVC-free credit and debit cards to our current account and credit card customers. In its place we use the plastic glycol-modified polyethylene terephthalate (PETG), which does not contain or use chlorine in its production.

In 2017, we issued 1,045,402 PVC-free cards, with 2,857,782 cards in circulation. In addition there are 44,856 PVC cards in circulation from legacy Britannia products.

Furthermore, all the inks we used in our customer mailings were chlorine-free, and either water or vegetable based.

Reducing our use of energy

We source the majority of our electricity from renewable sources. In 2017, we continued to reduce our own energy use and encourage our suppliers to make reductions in their own operations.

Reducing consumption of water and natural resources

We continually seek to reduce our water usage and the amount of natural resources we consume. Since 2011, we have reduced total water consumption in the buildings we occupy by almost 62%, down from nearly 175,000 m3 to 66,448 m3.

All of the paper we use contains a high proportion of recycled content, comes from certified sources and is manufactured using reduced chlorine processes.

Reusing and recycling waste

We reused or recycled just over 84% of the total 1,246 tonnes of waste we produced during 2017.

We also relocated our Manchester Head Office from the CIS Tower to our refurbished registered office in Balloon Street. Of the 526 tonnes of total construction waste removed from our Manchester Balloon Street site, 97% was recycled.

In 2018, we will improve our waste management systems and processes to allow for more accurate year on year comparisons.

Reducing our travel

Throughout 2017, we continued to encourage our colleagues to engage more in remote working, and to stay away from home less. As a result, we used 59% fewer hotel rooms in 2017 than the previous year. This meant less time away from home for colleagues and a reduction in their environmental impact.

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