An interview with Eurostar’s Luke Ervine, Head of Environment & Energy
What has Eurostar’s sustainability journey looked like to date?
Our journey started in 2006 when we commissioned independent research into the carbon footprint of our passenger journeys. This study revealed that traveling to our core destinations using high speed rail is more carbon efficient than travelling by air.
However, for Eurostar, being more carbon efficient than our competitors wasn’t enough. So in April 2007 we launched our Tread Lightly Sustainability programme to reduce our impact on the environment and improve our environmental and energy performance.
What are the key successes of Eurostar’s Tread Lightly programme so far?
As a transport company, cutting carbon emissions is at the heart of our plans to reduce our overall impact on the environment. Since setting out to reduce our business CO2 emissions by 25% in 2012, we’ve been managing all our projects through Greenstone’s enterprise level software. This gives us a baseline to work from and ensures that our measurement, tracking against targets, and reporting is robust.
As well as cutting our emissions, we’ve increased the UK recycling rates of the business to 80% with less than 1% of waste going to landfill. We’ve put initiatives in place to ensure 90% of water used to wash our trains now gets recycled and 90% of the packaging which we use to serve food and drinks on board is now biodegradable or recyclable. We also look after a conservation area at our Temple Mills depot, where we’ve established three working beehives and we’re helping to protect around 120 different species of invertebrates.
But, I think I’m most proud of the increase in internal engagement we have achieved since 2007. Internal buy-in was a big challenge for us when we first launched Tread Lightly, especially given that we were trying to engage with staff working across three different countries. We’ve launched lots of initiatives that our staff have been able to get involved with, from recycling old uniforms into an award winning bag, to taking part in a ‘Take the miles off the road’ campaign which saved 1500 road miles. There is now a strong sense of responsibility to the environment and the communities in which we operate, and it’s this internal engagement that has helped us achieve what we have.
So, what next? Can you make an impact beyond your own organisation?
Exactly – the next step is looking beyond our own impact. Like most organisations, our focus so far has been on improving our own social and environmental footprints. We have shown that there is plenty that can be achieved and we know there is plenty that is still to be done.
However, now that Eurostar has created a culture of responsibility, it is time to think about how this can be used positively outside our own organisation. Therefore the next stage of our sustainability programme is to move onto our supply chain.
The use of Greenstone’s software has, over the years, ensured that we can measure and manage our impacts across the business. Now, through the use of Greenstone’s SupplierPortal, we are beginning to understand our supply chain. This puts us in a position to be able to manage any direct risks to Eurostar that may result from supplier non-compliance, but also, vitally, to be able to engage with our suppliers on all areas of their business and hopefully improve their own performance.
This process is part of Eurostar’s new Supplier Engagement Strategy which helps us to build on our strengths and effectively manage risk in our supply chain. By gathering data from our suppliers, we are not only getting a better understanding of the environmental performance of our supply chain, but also creating a more complete profile of supplier information.
The flexibility of the solution has enabled us to capture information covering the environment, health & safety, commercial information, labour standards, IT security and anti-bribery & corruption. We then undertake in-depth supplier analysis across each of these areas, including the use of the automated audit function for our IT suppliers. Moving the process online, we have been able to move the focus away from just data collection onto developing a supplier engagement strategy that really works; for both Eurostar and our suppliers.
What are the long term objectives of your Supplier Engagement Strategy?
Building effective long-term relationships with suppliers who are aligned with Eurostar’s environmental goals is very important to us. The data collected is helping us to review the current performance of our key suppliers, focus on the key areas of weakness and identify ways in which we can work with suppliers to help them improve their performance going forward. We know it’s important to collaborate with our suppliers and engage with them in a way that benefits both of us and SupplierPortal is helping us do just that.
Integrating SupplierPortal into our procurement process has also enabled us to make more informed decisions when deciding which suppliers we wish to work with in the future. We are confident now that we have the right platform in place to help us manage and reduce areas of risk to our business.
The response we’ve had from suppliers so far has been really positive, and we will continue to focus more on building those long-term relationships that are mutually beneficial.
For more information on Eurostar's environmental initiatives, visit its website.