British American Tobacco - Waste and circular economy

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Waste and circular economy

Driving a zero-waste business

Circularity – and driving a zero-waste economy – is at the core of our bold stance to deliver a greener tomorrow. From using less plastic, creating less waste and recycling more, to being smarter in how our products are designed and disposed of by consumers.

Following our Double Materiality assessment, in 2022, we have included Circular Economy as one of our 11 material topics. Circular Economy is part of the ‘Tier 1’ category of material topics for BAT, along with Climate Change.

By using resources efficiently and in an innovative way, and by making decisions with consideration for the environment, we aim to address both our immediate impacts and the likely pressures on the business in the future.

Our goal at BAT is to adopt circular economy principles to help us to deliver better products for our consumers, create efficiencies in our operations, offer our employees opportunities to innovate and ultimately reduce our overall environmental impact on the planet.

Our Group-wide circular economy strategy for all our product categories is guided by three strategic priorities:

  • Simplify: simplifying the design of products to improve recyclability and to reduce our use of virgin materials and resources;
  • Maximise: maximising the longevity of our products to improve the experience for our consumers; and
  • Recover: minimising waste through increased product recovery and recycling.

Find out more in our Group Circular Economy Position Statement.

Reducing product-related waste

We have ambitious goals for 2025:

  • -25% reduction in waste generated;
  • 90% recycling rate of waste generated;
  • <1% waste going to landfill
  • 100 % of Vuse and glo markets with device Take-Back schemes in place
  • 100% of packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable; and
  • 30% average recycled content across all plastic packaging.

We have established cross-functional sustainability workstreams for all our product categories, which are using life cycle assessments to better understand the end-to-end waste footprints and identify opportunities to reduce them. This means being smarter in how we design our products and packaging, using less plastic and more recyclable materials, and supporting our consumers with responsible disposal.

By the end of 2022, 92% of our packaging was reusable, recyclable or compostable.

We’re focused on eliminating unnecessary single-use plastic from our Vuse packaging and products. Having successfully removed the silicone caps from e-liquid pods, in 2021 we replaced all plastic tray packaging with a pulp-based alternate.

In 2020, we also launched our new, recyclable packaging for our Velo mini modern oral products. This packaging is now made of a single polymer – polypropylene (PP) – rather than a combination of materials. PP recycling is widely accessible for households in many parts of the world. We started extending this in 2021 across our full Velo modern oral product range. Globally, over 80% of the cans used in our Velo products are made from recycled materials.

As for cigarettes, 93% of our plastic packaging can be recycled and all poly film, as well as tear-off strips used on packs, can be recycled (subject to local recycling infrastructure). We are also conducting trials on alternative plastic-free materials for cellulose acetate cigarette filters (filters classified as having plastic content).

Designing for End-of-Life

Butt littering and disposal of New Category products are two big challenges we face.

Butt littering is a complex topic with no easy answers. We are committed to working with consumers to enhance their understanding of the impact of butt littering and encourage responsible disposal. We have developed a new butt littering toolkit that will be rolled out across BAT in 2023. This utilises learning from our existing initiatives to focus on approaches that have proved to be most effective and resonated best with consumers. In 2022, we continued to implement campaigns across Italy, Denmark, France and Romania - among other countries.

To support consumers with responsible disposal, we also have take-back schemes in all markets where we sell New Category devices. These comprise one or both of: device return containers in our directly-operated and third-party retail outlets; and participation in national electrical equipment return and recycling schemes.

Take-Back schemes allow for the responsible disposal of end-of-life products, which can range from recycling to incineration with energy recovery, depending on local infrastructure, capacities and regulatory environment.

Reducing waste in our operations

Product sustainability is a priority in our circular economy strategy, but we will not lose sight of other opportunities to be more circular across our business.

We will continue to strive for efficiencies in our manufacturing and logistics, we will leverage our purchasing power to promote goods and services that have a positive environmental impact and we will seek out the technology that can accelerate our journey.

In 2022, as well as achieving a further 8.6% reduction in absolute waste versus 2021, we also passed our initial target of a 15% reduction in waste from operations by 2025 against a 2017 baseline, achieving a 21.5% reduction. As a result, we have increased our target to a 25% reduction in waste from operations by 2025, against a 2017 baseline.

Find out more about our operational waste and packaging (67 kb)