Banking on it

by May 28, 2012 No Comments

Financial crisis prompted a radical approach to resource conservation


The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is expecting to save £200m by the end of the decade through its comprehensive environmental policy based on fresh targets for energy use, recycling, and business travel, according to BusinessGreen online.

The bank’s new three-year plan includes commitments to cut energy consumption and related CO2 emissions by 15 per cent, reduce waste to landfill by the same amount, while increasing the amount of waste recycled, reused or recovered to 70 per cent, and reducing water use by 12 per cent.

Additionally, the company said that by the end of the decade it will aim to halve paper use and CO2 emissions from business travel.

Changes to the business structure following the financial crisis that left the bank in public ownership had prompted the decision to adopt a new set of environmental goals, said Sefton Laing, group head of environment at RBS.

“We’re in a more stable position now, so it’s a good time to set targets … and track improvements [more accurately],” he told BusinessGreen last month. “The group as a whole is very focused on being as efficient as we can be and not the kind of organisation that wastes resources in any way.

We’re very conscious of that aspect.” As RBS’s environment statement illustrates, it views climate change, resource scarcity, biodiversity loss and associated impacts as major risks to the livelihoods of its customers and society at large, both currently and in the future.

The company is focused on facilitating the transition to low carbon forms of energy generation and sustainable use of natural resources, as well as reducing the direct impacts of our operations.

It is committed to reducing the direct environmental impacts of its operations and has strategies in place to achieve this. Considering waste by 2014, RBS aims to reduce the amount sent to landfill by 15 per cent. It has also set a target for 70 per cent of waste to be recycled, reused or recovered. These targets relate to actual improvements in performance and are based on an adjustable 2011 baseline or other measures to allow for changes in the size of the group.

As reported in the bank’s 2011 sustainability report, between 2010 and 2011, its waste generation has decreased with a larger proportion of waste being recycled than before. The 53 per cent reduction in waste going to landfill (2010-11) is a consequence of collaboration with a new waste contractor in the UK. This has led to improved accuracy of data as well as a new recycling recovery system which has helped RBS recycle 64 per cent of its waste.

Supporting the green economy
A heat and power plant using by-products of whisky distillation to generate energy The bank’s structured finance team has acted as lead arranger and hedging bank for a £42.m deal to finance the construction, commissioning and operation of a 7.2MW biomass project in Rothes, Morayshire.

The project will help Scotland’s whisky industry meet a commitment to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels, whilst generating enough electricity to power 9,000 homes.

By providing greenhouse gas savings of more than 46,000 tonnes, the plant will contribute substantially to Scotland’s statutory obligations around carbon emission reduction. The project will create approximately 100 jobs during construction and employ around 20 people full time once operational.

This innovative project demonstrates what can be achieved by bringing different parties together to pool their expertise and resources. Not only will this plant help reduce the environmental impact of energy production, its construction and operation is creating jobs and safeguarding industries which are vital to Scotland’s future.

Case study: waste matching
Furniture asset management providing community and environment benefit One of the ways that RBS is managing its waste streams is through considering its furniture assets.

With the opening of RBS Gogarburn in 2005, excess furniture from the bank’s previous offices was then surplus to requirements. RBS was keen to reuse to support the charity and community sector.

This furniture reuse programme has evolved into a partnership between RBS and Wastematch who have developed an innovative model to deploy furniture which is currently at its final stages of design – the Waste Match Platform.

This underpins the RBS furniture management strategy.

Wastematch acts as a social enterprise, aiming to bring redundant resources back into use for the benefit of communities and the environment.

This platform will allow property management teams from financial institutions, corporations, local authorities and public sector bodies across the UK to identify furniture which is either in storage or projected to become surplus through building exits.

It aims to become a big ‘dating agency’ for surplus furniture. Through a transparent inventory and timeline portal, it is possible for clients to trade their surpluses with connected clients, which in turn leads to mutual benefits.

These include financial savings (reduced storage and transportation costs) and the environment through reducing the volume of waste sent to landfill and emissions. It is expected that the Waste Match Platform will be fully launched this summer.

Prince’s Trust One of the most successful match stories to date has been the provision of furniture from an existing RBS building, Moncrieff House, to the Prince’s Trust. RBS has long established links with this charity as the largest corporate supporter of the Prince’s Trust Enterprise Programme, which has helped over 70,000 young people since its inception.

The Prince’s Trust approached RBS in February 2012 enquiring whether RBS had any desks available for new premises they were relocating to. This request came at an opportune time as RBS was searching for a third party to utilise surplus furniture from Moncrieff House and the Prince’s Trust was a perfect recipient.

Through this match RBS was able to provide the Prince’s Trust will all the furniture they required – 82 desks, chairs, pedestals and multiple storage cabinets. A total of over 23 tonnes of furniture! Additionally, meeting room and breakout furniture was provided.

Due to this match RBS incurred no recycle costs, reduced building exit costs and no storage costs that would have been applied if the furniture had been taken to warehouse storage. The avoided storage costs alone saved RBS an annual bill of over £17k.

Additionally, carbon emissions from transportation were avoided as the furniture was taken directly from Moncrieff House to the Prince’s Trust’s new offices only 400 yards away. The recycling centre would have been a 70-mile round trip for two vehicles.

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