Blog: Veolia give their perspective on the Sustainable City Charter

15 Nov 2023

In our first signatory spotlight, James Mason, Sustainable Development Manager at Veolia discusses the importance of the Charter and why reducing  operational carbon emissions is important.

Why is the charter so important?

 The Sustainable City Charter is imperative to reducing carbon emissions in the borough. In order to achieve its goal of becoming a net-zero city by 2040, businesses in Westminster must work together toward a common goal. The Charter is key in its provision of assistance, resources, best-practice sharing and direct support to help businesses on this journey. The charter looks to embed sustainable practices as status quo across all businesses in the borough. It is not an easy journey to start, and the Charter is available to all those who are looking for guidance on how to beginntheir journey toward a more sustainable future.

What does being a signatory mean to your business?

Veolia hold ourselves fully accountable for the impacts of our operations. Our purpose is Ecological Transformation, and to join Westminster City Council on this journey to shape a more sustainable organisation fits in with our ethos. We are proud to have made a pledge to continue to reduce our emissions; we look to set an example for other Westminster businesses and to drive best practice across the borough.

How is your business reducing its operational carbon emissions and adhering to the Sustainable City Charter pledges?

 Veolia carry out the full-scale operation of collecting recycling and waste from Westminster’s residents and businesses. This essential operation requires huge resource to carry out. One of the ways in which we are reducing our operational carbon emissions is through the full-scale rollout of the UK’s largest electric refuse collection fleet. The electric vehicles will charge their batteries by drawing electric power from an adjacent energy recovery facility which uses the waste collected from homes and businesses in Westminster, bringing about a truly circular economy solution. The electric vehicles are charged at our fully electric depots, two of which are fully operational, with plans to electrify a number of other depots in Westminster.

Veolia are focussing on various other areas to reduce our operational carbon emissions, taking into account areas of development both large and small. At our sites, we switched all of our lighting to LED lightbulbs, providing energy savings of 50-70% across our sites. Furthermore, Veolia have installed solar panels at one site, with expansion plans already in place to install panels at our other sites in Westminster. The panels are estimated to provide 73,800 KWH saving per annum, per site.

These are snapshots of some of the areas of reduction that Veolia are focussing on to work alongside Westminster City Council to become a net zero city by 2040.

In 2022 Westminster City Council and the Westminster Property Association launched the Sustainable City Charter. The free Sustainable City Charter is an innovative, business-led climate action pledge for organisations. It contains eight commitments for reducing carbon emissions from non-domestic buildings. These cover areas such as energy use, procurement, transport, waste and deliveries, and include committing to net zero buildings by 2040 or earlier.

You can find out more about becoming a signatory of the Sustainable City Charter on Westminster City Council’s website here.

Further Reading:

Sustainability City Charter: Read the Charter

White paper: Zero Carbon Westminster

Report: Zero Carbon Westminster: A Focus on Retrofit in Historic Buildings

Interview: John Davies, Chair of the Sustainable City Charter Steering Group

Committee: Sustainable City Charter Steering Group 

Committee: Sustainable City Charter Technical Working Group