We practise what we preach – steps taken to reduce Valpak’s carbon footprint

At Valpak we don't just preach about sustainability we practise it too. Hannah Johnson's latest Blog outlines the steps we take to measure and minimise the business's impact on the environment, and discusses how we can also support other businesses with their sustainability goals.

Are we running out of time to limit the effects of climate change? Only 24 countries reduced their carbon emissions between 2010 and 2019 according to the latest IPCC report. What’s more is that the reductions were cancelled out by the rapid growth in emissions elsewhere in the world.

As bleak as those statistics may be, all is not lost (at least not yet)!

Increasing awareness of rising greenhouse gas emissions

In the UK, awareness of rising greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is growing, with three-quarters (75%) of adults stating they were worried about the impact of climate change in an Office for National Statistics (ONS) survey last year. On top of that, almost two thirds of FTSE100 companies had signed up to the UN’s Race to Zero campaign as of November 2021.

Measuring Valpak’s carbon footprint

Valpak’s purpose is to create a sustainable, waste free world and so the environment is at the heart of everything that we do. We recognise that we need to practise what we preach with regards to sustainability, which is why Valpak (and the rest of the Reconomy Group) measure our carbon footprint and have a target to reach net zero by 2028 in scopes 1 and 2.

Valpak has been measuring its carbon footprint for just over a decade now, improving data coverage and accuracy along the way. After each annual calculation has been completed, we also update our carbon footprint management plan to reflect our continued commitment to reducing our emissions.

Reducing electricity consumption

Going into 2020, Valpak had a target of reducing electricity consumption to under 170,000 kWh. We achieved this target (with some help from Covid-19 and the lockdown) but wanted to push harder for 2021. The Reconomy Environmental Action Plan (REAP) was launched in 2021 which had some interim targets to be met by 2021 to support the group in achieving our net zero goals.

Our first target for 2021 was again based on electricity consumption at the office, but there were a couple of things that we had to take into consideration when developing this. These were:

  • Covid-19 lockdowns as well as renovation works meant that the office would be closed for roughly the first three quarters of the year
  • Valpak’s server was migrated from the office to an offsite data centre at the very end of 2020, so would no longer be consuming electricity onsite

As we knew our energy demand was going to be much lower because of these two factors, Valpak set an ambitious target of reducing onsite electricity consumption to under 95,000Wh in 2021.

Reducing carbon intensity and business mileage

The other two targets aligned to the REAP interim targets were:

  • Reduce the carbon intensity of scope 1 and 2 emissions by 12% by 2021, based on 2019 levels
  • Reduce business mileage by 50% by 2021, using 2019 as a baseline

I am pleased to say that we met all three targets that had been set for 2021, with our performance shown in the table below:

Target area Target 2021 performance
Electricity consumption <95,000kWh 87,268kWh
Scope 1 & 2 carbon intensity -12% (from 2019) -54%
Business mileage -50% (from 2019) -94%

Indirect greenhouse gas emissions

Whilst it is great that we met these targets, there is more to Valpak’s footprint than just scopes 1 and 2. Scope 3 emissions make up most of our carbon footprint and that is the case for most businesses. Annoyingly, they are also the hardest ones to measure as they are outside of the company’s direct control.

Data centre electricity consumptions

Although the electricity consumption reduced at the office, it was still being used by employees working from home and by the data centre to power our server, so Valpak felt that it was important to capture and report this data too.

Getting data on electricity consumption from the data centre was straightforward, all thanks to our supplier. Based on the data they provided as well as the estimated consumption of our old onsite server, outsourcing to the data centre is much more efficient and uses almost 70% less energy.

Home working emissions

Estimating the emissions associated with home working was more of a challenge on the other hand. It involved getting a list of all of the IT equipment provided to employees for homeworking and working out the total power consumption, and then using assumptions on lighting and heating based on the EcoAct Homeworking Emissions Whitepaper. Even though Covid-19 restrictions are no longer in place and people are getting back into the swing of office life, flexible working seems like it is here to stay. As such, Valpak will keep on measuring and reporting on home working emissions.

These are just two examples that give some insight into the complexities businesses face when measuring scope 3 emissions, and these are relatively simple compared to other emissions sources that businesses may have within their supply chains!

Valpak can help your business

Valpak’s mission is to inspire businesses to do all they can to reduce their environmental impact, through the use of leading data science and expertise. We recognise that every business is at a different stage of their journey, so we are here to support in any way that we can. Perhaps this is all very new to you, and you need more information about carbon measurement and reporting? Maybe you have all the data but aren’t sure what to do with it next? Or you may have a carbon reduction plan but just need to double check a few things? No problem is too big or too small so please contact us if there is anything we can help with.

Climate change requires us all to act now, so let’s all work hard to ensure that by the time of the next IPCC report, we will know that we have all contributed to flipping the switch on carbon emissions and are on the way towards a brighter, more sustainable future.


Jargon Busting

Carbon Footprint – the amount of greenhouse gases and specifically carbon dioxide emitted by something (an individual, product, service and/or organisation) during a given period

Carbon Intensity – the carbon footprint divided by an appropriate business metric or financial indicator (such as total units of production, or company turnover)

Net Zero – reducing carbon emissions as close to zero as possible, and then actively removing the remaining greenhouse gases (such as through forests or oceans)

Scope 1 emissions – these are direct greenhouse gas emissions that come from sources that are owned or controlled by the company (such as the combustion of fuel in company owned vehicles)

Scope 2 emissions – these are indirect greenhouse gas emissions from the generation of purchased electricity consumed by the company

Scope 3 emissions – these are all other indirect greenhouse gas emissions that occur as a consequence of business activities (such as working from home and production of purchased materials)