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Accelerating our progress towards a sustainable future

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11 August 2021

Accelerating our progress towards a sustainable future

With the planet in the grip of a climate emergency and the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic being felt around the world, BAT is driving a step-change in our sustainability ambition.

We caught up with Jennie Galbraith, our Group Head of Environment, Social and Governance (ESG), to find out more about how BAT is accelerating progress towards a sustainable future.

Why is it important for businesses like BAT to accelerate their sustainability journey?

Businesses are uniquely placed to leverage their resources and expertise to help address some of the world’s greatest sustainability challenges. At BAT, we’ve taken an active approach to sustainability for more than 20 years by focusing on key environmental and social issues. We recognise we need to continue adapting and evolving to stay ahead.

We all have a responsibility to protect our planet and the environment.

BAT is committed to embracing the values of a green economy and accelerating progress towards a sustainable future. By working together, we can all help develop solutions to bring about lasting change and create A Better Tomorrow for all.

Where does sustainability fit in with your corporate purpose to deliver A Better Tomorrow?

Jenny GalbraithIn early 2020, we launched BAT’s new corporate strategy and purpose, called A Better Tomorrow by reducing the health impact of our business. We’re doing this by providing adult consumers with a range of enjoyable products that carry less risk than continuing to smoke cigarettes1.

Sustainability is front and centre in all we do, and that’s why our strategy also has a clear focus on ESG priorities, including addressing climate change and excellence in environmental management, delivering a positive social impact, and ensuring robust corporate governance. By doing this, we aim to create shared value for all our stakeholders.

Why is setting clear and measurable actions crucial for businesses to achieve this?

At BAT we believe commitments have to be backed by clear and measurable targets and actions. We have a number of important ESG targets already, such as becoming a carbon neutral business2 by 2030. In 2020 alone, we achieved a 30.9% reduction in emissions from our operations. 

We also have commitments to make all plastic packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025 and for our tobacco supply chain to be free of child labour by 2025. In 2021, we added bold, new targets: to have 100% renewable electricity in operations sites by 2030; to increase the amount of water recycled to 30%; have all sites certified by the Alliance for Water Stewardship; and to have 100% of operations sites to be zero waste to landfill by 2025. 

How is BAT driving a step change in your sustainability progress?

Our supply chain emissions represent around 90% of our total carbon footprint. So, in 2021, we pushed ourselves further with a more ambitious target: to be carbon neutral across our value chain2 by 2050.

The breadth of our resources and experience, and scale of our global business, means we have a lot to offer. BAT operates in over 180 markets, including seven R&D and 79 manufacturing sites. Our vast global supply chain includes some 30,000 suppliers and more than 84,000 directly contracted farmers. Working collaboratively with suppliers and farmers is important for building climate-resilient businesses for the future.

How are you bringing consumers along on the sustainability journey with you?

For a company to effectively align its sustainability ambitions with its corporate strategy, they need to link their products and services to their sustainability ambitions and bring their consumers on the journey with them.
For example, we’re cutting single use plastics from our packaging and implementing schemes for our consumers to return electronic product devices. This year, we were proud to announce that our Vuse product has become the first global carbon neutral vape brand3.

About Jennie Galbraith

Jennie has been the Head of ESG at BAT since 2012. She is responsible for establishing the Group’s Sustainability Agenda and overseeing its development and implementation. Jennie is also a leading expert in sustainability and regularly speaks at international events on the topic, and she is the Vice Chair and one of the founding forces behind the Institute for Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability (ICRS). ICRS is a professional body for sustainability professionals and provides a platform for honing skills, sharing knowledge and experience, and driving sustainable practices across businesses and organisations.

1 Based on the weight of evidence and assuming a complete switch from cigarette smoking. These products are not risk free and are addictive.
2 Scope 1, 2 & 3: scope 3 emissions relate to all other indirect emissions that occur in our value chain, including purchased goods and services.
3 Based on ePod, ePen, eTank mini, Alto devices and consumables internal sales forecast (calculated March 2021) for 12 months starting from April 2021.  Vuse’s carbon neutrality has been independently validated by Vertis based on product Life Cycle Assessment data provided by an independent third party.