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.

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 in line with the UK Government’s ‘Plastic Pact’:

  • Eliminate unnecessary single-use plastic packaging;
  • 100% of plastic 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 2020, 82% of our plastic packaging was reusable, recyclable or compostable.

For example, for our Vuse vapour products, we removed the silicone cap from our e-liquid pods in 24 of our 26 markets where ePen is sold. We are also eliminating the plastic film from Vuse packaging, and completed this in all but one of the 26 markets where the products are sold in 2020.

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.

To support consumers with responsible disposal, we have implemented ‘drop the pod’ pilot schemes in France, Mexico and the UK for consumers to return their e-liquid pods. By the end of 2021, we are aiming to have take-back schemes in place in all markets where our vapour and tobacco heating products are available.

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.

Our target is for 100% of our operations sites to achieve zero waste to landfill by 2025. By the end of 2020, 27% of our sites have already achieved zero waste to landfill and another 27% are recycling at least 95%.