Ultra is committed to continuous improvement in our environmental performance and compliance with all environmental laws. We aspire to minimise our environmental footprint by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, decreasing waste, and limiting excess energy and water use at our sites.
The Group has initiated its sustainability strategy, to address more broadly the opportunities and threats related to climate change, and the need for the UK to transition to a sustainable, lower-carbon economy. This is in line with our commitment to implement the Task Force for Climate-related Financial Disclosures’ recommendations. For risk management, addressing the potential impacts of climate change plays a crucial role in our approach to sustainability, and this year we have identified climate change as an emerging risk.
Some of the markets in which we operate are heavily focused on sustainability and reduction of pollution. As an example, our Energy business focuses predominantly on Nuclear power, a zero-emission clean energy source that keeps the air clean by removing thousands of tons of harmful air pollutants each year that contribute to acid rain, smog, lung cancer and cardiovascular disease.
We make every effort, where possible, to reduce adverse environmental impacts. Prevention of pollution at Ultra includes using resources and materials more efficiently, material and energy substitution, as well as reusing, recovering and recycling as much as we can.
An example of how Ultra contributes to the prevention of pollution and reduction of carbon emissions can vary from small initiatives such as ensuring employees switch lights off to larger investments such as LED light replacement programmes (LED lighting uses up to 75% less energy than incandescent lighting).
The Group’s increasing focus on sustainability and its carbon footprint are reflected in us establishing the CSR Committee.
We were registered under the UK Carbon Reduction Commitment Scheme (CRC) run by the UK Environment Agency (EA), this scheme came to an end last year and has been replaced by the Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) framework, we will make our first submission under this new scheme for 2020.
We are committed to the systematic reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Our Group carbon footprint continues to decrease year on year: last year it went from 5,067 tCO2 per annum to 4,144 tCO2, which represents a decrease of 18.2% compared with 2018 and a reduction of 35% in comparison with 2017. This has been achieved by an actively encouraged systematic reduction of energy consumption as well as efficiency measures like simplifying our office structures, modernising the production process, and using renewable electricity sources whenever possible.
Our 2020 recorded greenhouse gas emissions are expected to reduce again both due to our environmental initiatives, and also the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Homeworking and the requirement that our teams do not travel on business for a large proportion of the year will be a contributor. However, our factories have remained fully operational throughout.
During a challenging 2020, we have taken the opportunity to think about how we operate and whether we can do more to make our organisation more efficient and reduce or improve our environmental impact.
Whilst recognising that nothing can beat face-to-face conversations and developing relationships, we have revised our travel policies to refocus our team on essential travel only.
We have made significant improvements to our employee connectivity and video conferencing facilities which has demonstrably improved our teams’ effectiveness.
We are revising our remote working policies to enable employees to have a more flexible approach to their working day, whilst meeting our business needs.
We are revising our company car policies to encourage lowering emissions and making electric cars more accessible, including the installation of charging points at some of our premises.
Some of these changes in 2020 will have an impact on our reportable figures. Still, some go beyond and are silent contributors to reducing our employees’ greenhouse gas emissions through reduction of commuting miles.
Environmental considerations are taken into account throughout a product’s lifecycle, from
concept through to disposal. All Ultra businesses ensure their practices and processes consider the environment. Businesses work with their suppliers to reduce the impact of their products and to take account of environmental factors in the materials and components used. Controls are in place at sites to drive efficiency and minimise wastage, which is disposed of appropriately using specialist contractors where necessary.
Encouraging employees in the workplace
Making small changes to our everyday workday makes a big difference in reducing our environmental impact as a Group. We think about how we can save energy and resources and actively encourage our employees to:
- Remember to turn lights off when not needed
- Switching off equipment, including PCs and laptops, when not in use
- Print only when necessary to reduce both energy and paper usage
- Reuse and recycling wherever possible with an aim to eliminate single-use plastics across our sites
- Use materials and packaging efficiently
- Consider if travel is essential – even to our own offices!
- Work with our customers and suppliers to identify ways to reduce the environmental impact of our operations.
Ultra’s formal environmental policy addresses compliance with environmental legislation, conformity with standards for waste disposal and noise, the economical use of materials and the establishment of appropriate environmental performance standards. Progress is monitored through annual reporting. Each site plans and manages compliance with environmental requirements and the processes for the storage, handling and disposal of hazardous or pollutant materials are reviewed on a continuous basis. Ultra is moving towards a global ISO 14001 accreditation unifying our environmental management system across our businesses.
In 2020, Ultra has started the process of aligning our businesses worldwide to the ISO 50001 Energy Management standard, an international standard recognising organisation that enhance their energy performance by implementing an energy management system (EnMS) based on a model of continual improvement. This activity will further support the reduction of Ultra’s energy use and associated cost.
The direct risk to Ultra from climate change is limited, given the low-intensity nature of our operations, the locations of our sites and markets in which we operate. Increased local extreme weather events could impact operations at a site or lead to some disruption to our supply chain by impacting a key supplier. However, we have established business continuity plans in place to mitigate this eventuality.
Increasing regulation and compliance requirements concerning climate change are expected. Still, in line with our values, we see climate change as an area of responsible focus and management rather than just compliance.
Ultra is establishing new strategies and programmes to minimise our contribution to climate change under our Corporate and Social Responsibility (CSR) Committee which will continue to develop these strategies and oversee programme initiatives. The CSR Committee reports directly to the Executive Team.
As a responsible corporate citizen, Ultra recognises the importance of protection of the Environment, of biodiversity, and the need for conservation and restoration of natural habitats. Ultra strives to not only limit our business impact on the environment but also support maintaining biodiversity.
In 2020, Ultra actively supports maintaining biodiversity by:
- Encouraging our employees to take part in an organised tree planting programmes in all our operating territories, reducing deforestation and therefore the release of greenhouse gases
- Continuing our ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ initiative across all of our sites to reduce the amount of waste we contribute to landfill sites
- Supporting local animal organisations to help preserve endangered species in our community spaces through protection and development of new endangered habitats – examples of which include supporting the New England Aquarium
- Supporting biodiversity partnerships local to our businesses, e.g. employee volunteering at local Wildlife Trusts etc.