Looking after our planet
On the 29 June, Penny James joined over 200 business leaders who made a series of commitments to reduce carbon emissions across their operations while increasing biodiversity. The UN climate change talks were due to take place in Glasgow in November but were postponed as COVID-19 spread throughout the world, and the virtual event aimed at ensuring climate change is back at the top of the agenda. The event was organised by the Council for Sustainable Business (CSB), in partnership with Defra.
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As one of the UK’s leading motor, home and commercial insurers, we are committed to playing our part in helping the UK become a sustainable, low carbon economy. Our vision is to be a force for good and this means putting the best interests of our customers first, investing in our employees and supporting our communities and the environment around us.
We are already making active choices within the business that are helping us to reduce our carbon footprint. We procure 100% of our electricity on a renewable tariff with Engie, through the purchase of Renewable Energy Certificates and 100% of office waste is diverted away from landfill and we are continually improving on our total business recycling rate, currently delivering an average of 98.2% onsite recycling.
Our Environmental Champions have received accredited sustainability training and are actively promoting awareness campaigns locally. We are proud to have partnered with SimplyCups where we recycled around 130,000 cups in 2019 at our Head Office. We have also installed new energy efficient boilers, LED lights, chillers and air conditioning units across a range of sites. And through our partnership with Vegware, which provides fully compostable plant based food containers, cutlery and cups, we have decreased waste from our onsite catering.
But we are also thinking about the future and how we can support our customers to make the move to greener travel. Our Partnerships with Streetwise and Move_UK have helped us to understand how autonomous vehicles and car sharing schemes could reduce the number of cars on the road. We’re enhancing our understanding of electric vehicles and their adoptions, thinking about rescue products, how we price the risk and what the repair process looks like. We’ve also invested in our transformation programme that will provide customers with a fully digital experience which will reduce the need to post and print policy documents.
Most people will know that we insure cars but we also own 21 garages in the UK. Every year they fix tens of thousands of cars for customer so we need to make sure we do this while keeping an eye on our carbon footprint. That’s why we’re recycling more parts than ever before, installed spray paint booths which use less energy and we’re piloting new ways to ensure efficient repairs.
And finally we are also making a difference by actively choosing what we invest in. Last year we made sure that our holdings in investment grade corporate bonds were tilted more towards companies with better ESG credentials. We delivered this by changing most of our portfolios to Bloomberg/MSCI ESG weighted benchmark indices and adding new investment objectives to all relevant guidelines, namely to achieve a minimum MSCI ESG rating of A for the portfolio.
These are all very simple steps, but ones that are making a big difference and we intend to go further and do more over the coming months and years.