How we measure up
We are committed to reducing our environmental impact across our supply chain and operations.
Our approach to reducing the environmental impacts of our operations is long established - 'excellence in environmental management' is one of our ESG priorities as part of our updated sustainability agenda. We have a comprehensive Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) management system that is based on international standards, including ISO 14001, and we monitor our Group-wide environmental performance for all BAT sites worldwide.
We operate in diverse locations around the world, where environmental legislation, infrastructure, the availability of renewable energy technologies and levels of water scarcity can all vary significantly. Our approach is therefore to understand our impact in these environments, and then put plans in place to minimise it.
We also have an internal reporting system for monitoring Group-wide environmental performance.. Each of our companies has an EHS Steering Committee, with overall environmental responsibility held by the General Manager or site manager. EHS is also a standing agenda item for management meetings and governance committees at area, regional and global levels. This has raised awareness of EHS risks across our business and our aim is to create a consistent approach for our companies in managing them.
Our Group Operations Director has overall responsibility for environmental management and our Management Board is responsible for our Environment Policy.
The Policy applies across all our activities including our supply chain and it requires our companies to:
Good environmental management is not only the right thing to do, it makes business sense given our dependence on natural resources. Climate change has long been part of our wider approach to environmental management and we’ve now elevated it to a standalone priority in recognition of the growing climate emergency.
Addressing our water and waste impacts has environmental benefits and delivers financial savings and efficiencies, while implementing sustainable agriculture practices with our 90,000+ contracted farmers helps to address environmental impacts and secure our tobacco leaf supply chain. In response to increasing concerns regarding plastics and post-consumption waste, we’ve established circular economy as a new priority area. We are focused on minimising our climate change impacts and preparing our business for the risks ahead.
This includes accelerating our science-based targets for reducing our carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions and our new target to be carbon neutral by 2030 for our direct operations, and working with our farmers to increase their resilience. Through our long-standing environmental management systems, we have been steadily decreasing water use and increasing water recycling for several years. We are also reducing the amount of waste generated and sent to landfill and aim to recycle at least 95% of our waste each year.
Building on our progress, we’ve set ourselves even more ambitious and stretching targets:
Achieving these targets will require an accelerated approach to emissions reduction; and, around 90% of our direct carbon emissions arise from our factories, green-leaf threshing plants and our large distribution fleet, this is where we primarily focus our efforts to reduce the carbon impact of our operations.
Examples include investing in energy-efficient technologies, switching to less carbon-intensive fuels and renewable energy sourcing. Currently, 10.8% of our Group energy use is from renewable sources. We’re also optimising our logistics and fleet with standards for fuel efficiency, engine size and emissions, as well as increasing load capacity to reduce the number of journeys.
While our manufacturing processes are less water intensive than many industries, we understand the reality of increasing water scarcity in some parts of the world and this has led us to expand the scope of our water risk assessments. Previously only conducted at our strategic, high-risk sites, these assessments were completed by all our factories and green-leaf threshing sites in 2017.
We recycle or reuse waste within our business, wherever possible. Compared to 2018, we reduced the volume of waste generated by 2% [#10] and the amount of waste sent to landfill by 5% [#11], as well as achieving a 90.5% [#12] recycling rate across the Group.
Many of the environmental impacts that are associated with growing tobacco are common across agriculture and the only way to completely avoid them would be not to farm any crop, which is clearly not a viable option. So we focus on working to mitigate these inherent risks and implement best practice environmental standards with all the farmers we work with.
Environmental criteria form a central part of the industry wide Sustainable Tobacco Programme and our expert field technicians provide farmers with technical assistance on areas such as sustainable soil, water, biodiversity, and forest and pest management. The benefits of this can be seen in agrochemical usage, which is generally significantly lower in tobacco growing than other comparable crops.
Also, because wood is often used as a fuel for curing, we have programmes in place to avoid and combat deforestation. As a result, in 2019 99% of our contracted farmers’ wood fuel came from sustainable sources.