Wates has launched a five-year environmental plan, making sustainability a priority for the whole organisation.
The three core targets are:
• to reduce and then eliminate the production of all waste created from on-site operations, leading to zero waste from Wates operations by 2025
• to reduce carbon emissions from Scope 1 and 2 operations to become carbon neutral by 2025
• to make a positive impact on nature from all operations, enhancing the natural environment wherever it operates.
To get there, Wates is switching to an all-electric commercial vehicle fleet, eliminating single-use plastic from its operations and supply chain, investing in sustainable building techniques, organising sustainability placements for graduate and apprenticeship staff, planting 5,000 trees a year and ensuring that all sites or frameworks deliver at least one nature enhancement project, such as local conservation work.
In 2020, the focus will be on promoting the new policies – raising awareness – and collecting data to set benchmarks.
Suppliers are also expected to step up their game, although no commitments are made by Wates here to eliminate carbon from the whole supply chain. In May 2019 Skanska UK set a 25-year target to eliminate all emissions throughout its entire supply chain by 2045.
Wates said that it had “a track record of success in addressing challenging and complex issues”, citing the example of its recent health & safety drive. In 2016 Wates launched a five year programme to eliminate RIDDOR reportable incidents by 2020. Latest figures show a 26% drop in the accident frequency rate to 0.035 – equivalent to a 70 per cent drop over five years. Wates is now seeking a similar scale of behavioural change to achieve its sustainability targets.
Wates has already begun to raise its game. In 2019, it offset 1,042 tonnes of CO2 by supporting international offset projects and planted 5,230 trees. In the same year, 74% of the electricity used by the Wates Group came from renewable sources.
Chief executive David Allen said: “We have established bold, ambitious, deliberately stretching targets for creating zero harm to the environment by 2025 because we believe that by committing to something extraordinary, we can achieve something extraordinary. Together with our partners, we will reduce waste and carbon, and improve our natural environment for generations to come.
“Our industry has made and continues to make an unhelpful contribution to the global climate crisis. We have a responsibility to reduce and eventually to reverse the impact we’re having on our planet and are determined that everyone in the Wates Group will do what is necessary to make a real and lasting difference.”
John Dunne, group health, safety, environment and quality director, added: “It’s no secret that we work in one of the least environmentally sustainable industries in the world. According to the Construction Climate Challenge, our sector is responsible for up to 50% climate change, 405 of energy usage and 50% of landfill waste.
“At Wates, we know that this cannot continue. We are choosing to take a leading role in reducing our industry’s environmental impact. We work with a diverse range of public and private sector partners and businesses of all sizes are part of our supply chain. A key part of achieving zero harm to the environment will be working collaboratively with these partners. Our strategy will focus our attentions and energies on achieving zero waste, zero carbon and positive nature enhancement by 2025; and everyone has a vital role to play in achieving it.”