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Sustainability: Recap of last year

The recent COP26 has put sustainability high on the agenda. Equally, driving innovation and more sustainable solutions has become a core part of Churchill’s journey. The pandemic saw much in adversity, yet the year also provided an opportunity for reflection and development. Throughout 2021, we accelerated our sustainability journey which saw us calculate our carbon footprint, commit to setting science-based reduction targets and further reduce plastic waste.

Certified to the ISO 14001 environmental management and ISO 50001 energy management standard, we are committed to reducing our environmental impacts and energy consumption whilst aiming for continuous improvement. It’s been a productive journey, with a variety of highlights that show just how dedicated we are to creating a sustainable future.

PVA plastic savings

Reducing single use plastics is a key part of Churchill’s sustainability journey and has been spearheaded by our shift away from plastic containers to PVA water soluble cleaning sachets. Last year, PVA both extended its range and enhanced its formulations.

All PVA products are phosphate free and fully biodegradable formulations, which helps them meet various biocidal regulations. Trigger sprays for cleaning products are reusable and all PVA products can be used without the need for costly dispensing equipment.

In addition, the PVA range is much more sustainable for transport and storage. Compared to an average 5 litre container, a PVA product has a 95 per cent fuel saving, which helps to reduce our carbon footprint.

We are implementing the updated PVA range across our client sites. These products helped us to save 38 metric tonnes of plastic waste in 2020/21 compared to the 26 metric tonnes that were saved in 2019/20.

Savings in carbon emissions

Churchill’s operational teams and our supply partner Bunzl have been working collaboratively to reduce the frequency of deliveries to client sites by smart ordering and increasing minimum order values. The carbon footprint of our deliveries has gradually reduced since an initial review in late 2019. Using the advanced Verizon connect route management system, it was found that 4,937 fewer deliveries were made to our contract sites in the second half of 2020 and the beginning of 2021. This has saved more than 15 tonnes of CO2, the equivalent to someone charging their mobile phone more than 2 million times.

Science-based targets

In July 2021 we signed a letter of commitment that we will be setting science-based targets in line with the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi). Science-based targets show companies how much and how quickly they need to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to prevent the worst effects of climate change.

The Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi):

  • Defines and promotes best practice in emissions reductions and net-zero targets in line with climate science.
  • Provides technical assistance and expert resources to companies who set science-based targets in line with the latest climate science.
  • Brings together a team of experts to provide companies with independent assessment and validation of targets.

The SBTi is the lead partner of the Business Ambition for 1.5°C campaign – an urgent call to action from a global coalition of UN agencies, business and industry leaders, mobilising companies to set net-zero science-based targets in line with a 1.5°C future.

Partnership with phs

Churchill appointed phs as washroom service provider, a move that allows us to provide improved levels of service at the best value. Working with phs has also been the beginning of a strong sustainable partnership, providing ways to save on water, improve air quality, and to divert waste from landfill. More than 85% of our combined clients’ sanitary and nappy waste is now diverted away from landfill to energy waste plants. This equates to over 700 tonnes of waste annually, four and a half times the weight of the Statue of Liberty and can create enough energy to power 150 households with electricity for a year.

This is a phenomenal enterprise, but we are only at the beginning of our journey. We look forward to showcasing more phs products and services throughout 2022, such as a brand-new flush and water management system that can save up to 80% of the water used in washrooms. It takes up to 300 years before sanitary products decompose and up to 500 years for nappies. Therefore, our partnership with phs has been an important decision in dealing with hygiene waste in a more sustainable manner.

Silver Award from EcoVadis

For the first time Churchill took part in a sustainability assessment by external verification body EcoVadis and was awarded a silver medal for our sustainability performance. EcoVadis is a measuring tool for a company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR), and is a global framework that is used in more than across 200 industries and in 160 countries. The assessment is based on four key pillars:

  • Environment
  • Ethics
  • Labour and human rights
  • Sustainability procurement

After completing the assessment last year, we achieved a 60 out of 100 score, which bought us a silver medal for our sustainability performance. Some of the areas we were praised on were:

  • Regular supplier assessment on environmental or social practices
  • Communication of progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals
  • Reduction of water consumption through innovative equipment, methods or technologies

This gives us a great baseline to build on and this year we’re striving towards a higher score as we set out our strategic targets and work towards addressing our identified improvement areas. This will mean setting more specific key performance indicators and actions across all four pillars to improve both our performance and reporting.

Award recognition

Our efforts are already achieving recognition for us and our clients. In November 2021, we won the ‘Partners in Sustainability – Large Estates’ award at the 2021 PFM awards. We won this award for our ongoing work with Network Rail High Speed at London St. Pancras.

The use of PVA products and the use of chemical-free cleaning products played a part in our win, as did our use of technology to improve recycling and reduce waste going to landfill. St Pancras is more than a railway station – it is a busy commuter hub with numerous shops and restaurants. Though it wasn’t part of our scope, we devised and implemented new waste management processes to help retailers cut waste and recycle more. Through Mo:dus we can track all waste and demonstrate to the client the impact of the changes we made.

In 2021 we were also shortlisted for IWFM, i-FM and Cleaning Excellence awards, and in all cases our sustainability work formed an important part of the award entry.

Looking ahead to 2022

We’re delighted with the progress we have made this year but it’s just the start of our journey. We will revisit the Sustainability Charter that we adopted in November 2019, and make sure that our targets and objectives are updated as required.

We have plenty to be proud of and plenty of work still to do. Watch this space for updates on our environmental work throughout 2022.