Last year, EMR made a bold commitment to transform our business into a provider of net zero carbon sustainable materials by 2040.
To start this process, we launched Our Decade of Action, a roadmap for the next 10 years that will see EMR switch to 100 percent renewable power usage, invest in electric vehicles and drive at least a 10 percent improvement in energy productivity across the business.
We know there is more we can do. Yet while some challenges require further innovation, such as the need to decarbonise our shipping operations and the transition to electric heavy-goods vehicles, at EMR we are taking our first big steps towards net zero.
The targets in Our Decade of Action strategy have been set with the backing of the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi) and The Climate Group, meaning that leading climate scientists back what EMR is doing and are monitoring our progress.
So how are we doing a year on? Globally, EMR has made huge steps towards switching to renewable power. By working with our energy suppliers, we have ensured that 85 percent of the electricity we use in the UK now comes from renewable sources.
We’ve also spent this year investing in energy monitoring technology, meaning our business is now able to understand how it uses electricity and where efficiencies can be made. This is an essential first step in achieving EMR’s ‘Decade of Action’ goal on energy productivity as it provides the essential foundations for strong Energy Management.
Meanwhile, more of our employees have started driving electric vehicles, joining millions of other drivers around the world in cutting the carbon impact of our travel by road.
Of course, this has been a year like no other and the COVID-19 pandemic had a huge impact on our operations.
Yet, even in these difficult times, opportunities to reduce our carbon impact have emerged. As more of our employees have worked from home, we’ve realised that many of us can be more productive and cut our emissions simultaneously thanks to remote working.
Taken together, these actions have meant that, in the first year of our ‘Decade of Action’, EMR has begun to cut its carbon emissions. Whilst the full extent of the emission reductions is still being determined through our constantly improving data capture, monitoring and measurement processes, the transition to obtaining 85% of our UK electricity supplies from renewable sources has saved approximately 17,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2e) from our Scope 2 emissions annually.
The past year has also given us an opportunity to look ahead to how EMR can tackle some of those more long-term challenges.
First and foremost, this is about building partnerships with other businesses up and down our supply chain. In 2020, EMR launched RECOVAS, a partnership with some of the world’s leading car manufacturers, Warwick University and others, and part-funded by the Government’s Advanced Propulsion Centre, to create a circular supply chain in the UK for recycling and re-use of electric vehicle batteries. Another project, REAP, is enabling EMR to process electric vehicle motors in a way that retains valuable rare-earth materials to go straight back into the circular economy.
Projects such as these provide manufacturers and product users with resource security and ensure vehicles are designed with end-of-life processing in mind. They also help our partners to reach their own net zero goals as they can be assured that at the end of their useful life, their products can be reused and/or recycled via a process that is eventually net-zero itself (reducing their scope 3 emissions).
EMR’s teams are also working hard to develop new, high-specification grades of recycled metal to feed into the manufacture of green steel, copper and aluminium. The processes involved are complex and expensive to deliver but, by working in partnership with industry, this work will ensure that more low-carbon metal is produced closer to home; with the added benefit that our emissions from shipping will also be cut substantially.
Finally, ahead of COP26 arriving in Glasgow this November, EMR is hosting a series of webinars that will provide insight and advice to our partners and customers on the steps they can take to decarbonise in the years ahead. COP26 will be a time when the world looks to the UK for leadership in tackling the climate crisis. With our track record of setting and achieving ambitious sustainability targets, EMR sees this as a valuable opportunity to show that the metal recycling industry is part of the solution to the climate crisis, not the problem.
As a company with family values at its heart, EMR has a decades-long track record of investing its profits back into the business. As in most family companies, the current custodians are focused on leaving the business in a stronger position for the next generation.
By taking such a substantial step forward in reaching our ‘Decade of Action’ commitments within the first year of the plan – EMR is certainly building strong foundations for the next generation.