Most large UK companies now have to be compliant with the new Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme. Louise Bateman talks to Adrian Northover-Smith, head of Corporate Public Affairs at Sony UK, about how the multinational has prepared and is complying with the scheme.
Q. The deadline for registration for the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme recently passed. How well prepared was Sony UK for participating in the scheme?
A. Four Sony Companies in the UK meet the qualification criteria. These companies – Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Limited, Sony Europe Limited, Columbia Pictures Corporation Limited and Sony DADC UK Limited – have registered as participants in the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme
as a group (to be known as Sony Group) and are working together to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions
Q. What has the preparation for participating in the scheme involved and what has Sony UK learnt from it?
A. Although individual Sony companies in the UK were already collecting data on their energy usage, participation in CRC has required us to gather standardised information and pull this together into a consolidated database. This database will be used to provide the information needed to calculate our carbon footprint and drive down our CO2 emissions. Going forward it will allow us to make much better comparisons and judgments. The learning has been hard, but standardisation is what we are getting out of [this process].
Q. Has being part of a multinational made the process more difficult and, if so, what challenges have you encountered and how have you resolved them?
A. Although the different Sony companies in the UK are separate operating units, they are treated as one entity as far as the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme is concerned. This has led to a new level of cooperation and coordination between companies and the formation of the 'working group’ has played an important part in directing this cooperation and coordination.
Q. There are concerns about the CRC and how well it will work – does Sony have any concerns about it and if so what are they and what would you like the Department of the Energy and Climate Change and the Environmental Agency to do about them?
A. Sony is committed to reducing its carbon footprint and supports the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme in its objective of driving down carbon dioxide emissions. We are concerned that, under the scheme, some companies outsourcing or relocating activities overseas would benefit from higher rewards from the system without reducing carbon emissions. We advocate more of a benchmarked than absolute carbon measure for the league table positioning. If companies are outsourcing or relocating from one geographical area to another, you are effectively reducing your absolute carbon emissions in the UK. Benchmarking would take into account this practice. This is an ongoing issue that has been going on for some time now and we need to make sure that this is recognised and seen and acted upon. We would urge the Government to consider this seriously in their review of the regulations
Q. What has been the financial cost of entering the scheme and is Sony confident the investment will have return - do you have any figures you can share on that?
A. As Sony companies were already working to reduce their impact on the environment and gathering data as a part of their global environmental commitment, participation in CRC has not incurred any significant financial
cost so far. This is a 'business as usual’ process for Sony. But we’ve done quite a lot of work internally in order to get staff to understand our commitment to reducing our carbon emissions.
Q. The CRC aims to reduce the carbon emissions of large non-energy intensive businesses in order to meet climate change targets. Sony has set its own target to become zero carbon by 2050. What action has it taken since announcing those plans earlier this year to meet that long-term target and short to mid-term targets?
A. Sony has, for many years, been proactively working towards the same objectives that the CRC Scheme intends to implement. Climate change and energy saving are part of Sony’s environmental policy, which was established in March 1993. Since then Sony has implemented continuous improvement programmes to achieve global energy saving and CO2 reduction targets.
Q. Where are you making the most progress and why?
A. For all its manufacturing sites, and for non-manufacturing sites with 100 employees or more, in Europe Sony has reduced its CO2 emissions by almost 93 per cent from financial year 2000 to financial year 2009. It has achieved this applying several programmes such as energy use reduction measures and the application of electricity from renewable
Q. Is there anything you can share with other businesses about technology, energy efficiency measures, travel plans and employee engagement that are proving successful on your Road To Zero Carbon?
A. Sony in the UK is applying a wide range of measures to raise environmental awareness amongst its employees and ensure that operations continuously decrease their environmental footprint:
We are reducing flights and substituting flight with train by raising awareness of the benefits of train travel
in the reduction of CO2, by promoting to use train as a first option for travel to Brussels and Paris from the UK over the plane, and by applying tighter controls on business request for long haul flights to Tokyo as an example.
We are trying to reduce the carbon footprint in the restaurants, by sourcing from local providers, by minimising sandwich packaging and ensuring that the remaining packaging is recyclable
and by substituting disposable cups with china cups.
We are promoting and incentivising staff to use the bus, train, walk and cycle into work by organising a car-free day and by supporting staff who want to purchase a bike to ride to work.
We are promoting 'Smarter Working’ which includes measures such as flexible working, IT
communication tools, video conferencing and working from home.
We are offering the possibility for all employees to get three paid volunteering days as part of the Engage Project, where employees can participate in charity events such as assisting disabled riders, sports events for underprivileged children, or raising funds towards their charity.
We are working with SMEs
to assist in developing their environmental credentials
For a week from Monday October 4 we had a 'global week of 'day of doing’. On Monday, we had a low carbon food
day, where our restaurants ordered low carbon products, sourced local product and educated staff about what was seasonal and good to eat.
On Tuesday, we had an energy production day, where staff was able to look at various products to see how you could save money by switching things off.
On Wednesday, we had a flight reduction day, where we promoted new technologies in Sony that promote virtual meetings that are also good for the environment.
On Thursday, we had a car-free day – where we encouraged cycling or walking to work or car sharing. If any participated in this, they had free low carbon lunch. That went down very well – people wanted to get involved.
The most popular day, though, was the working from home day.
Q. Is this 'week of doing’ something you will be repeating?
A. I don’t think the issues will every change and we need to embed them in the organisation, so we need to be doing this on an ongoing basis and regular basis.
Q.What progress has Sony UK made in terms of its renewable energy strategy? Are you generating any of your own power on site and if so where and what technology are you using?
A. We don’t generate on site, but Sony UK is using 100 per cent electricity from renewable energy sources and has been doing so for five years now.
Q. Reducing corporate carbon emissions and increasing energy efficiency of offices and facilities is understandably a priority for Sony, but embedded carbon in the products a company produces and the lifecycle sustainability of those products is just - if not more - important. What is Sony doing to address this issue?
Under it Green Management 2015 (that is a short term target towards the Road to Zero), Sony has set following targets for product:
• 30 per cent reduction in annual energy consumption of products (compared to fiscal 2008)
• 10 per cent reduction in product mass (compared to fiscal 2008)
• Five per cent reduction in utilisation ratio of virgin oil-based plastics in products (compared to fiscal 2008)
• Minimisation of the risk of chemical substances through preventive measures; reduction in use of specific chemicals defined by Sony; and promotion of use of alternative materials.
We also have incredibly rigorous systems in place to ensure that our suppliers comply with our strict environmental standards, right down to cadmium in red ink in printing. If they don’t comply they simply do not supply Sony.
There’s actually Sony Green Partner programme, which ensures that all Sony suppliers adhere to strict environmental standards that Sony does. In order to be a supplier, you need to pass audit and certified as green partner.
Q. Is there anything Sony would like to see in terms of standardising labels/certification to help the consumer make the right choice?
A. The vast majority of our 2010 BRAVIA TVs carry the EU 'flower’, an eco-label introduced by the EU. The EU 'flower’ is designed to certify greener, more environmentally friendly products that comply with strict ecological criteria.
In general Sony welcomes a label when it helps the consumer to make an informed purchasing decision. For that reason Sony welcomes the soon to be implemented 'A to G’ labeling scheme for televisions, as this label will indeed provide understandable and numerical information, e.g. about power consumption and energy costs per annum.
This said it should be noted that there are two general problems with labels. Often it is very difficult for the consumer to intuitively understand the meaning of a label. Then too much labels can actually be counterproductive as the overflow of information can confuse the consumer, hampering the consumer from easily finding the information that is relevant to his / her purchasing decision.
Q. Can you point to any innovative new Sony products that have exceptional green credentials and that are made in the UK?
A. DADC UK, a Southwater-based disc (DVD and Blue Rays) manufacturing site, has reduced energy consumption for disc manufacturing
by 26 per cent from financial year 08 to financial year 09, managing to reduce absolute electrical consumption by six per cent whilst production volumes increased by 28 per cent year to year. DADC UK was awarded by the European Sony EHS community for these achievements.
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