Supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goals
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been developed to make the world more sustainable by 2030. They address challenges such as poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, peace and justice. The SDGs can only be achieved if governments, businesses, civil society and citizens work together. The United Nations has produced 17 SDGs and 169 targets that describe the road map of ambitions to build a more sustainable future by 2030.
Supporting the SDGs isn't an additional task for our business - it's part of what we do every day and through our purpose to deliver life’s essential service, so our customers, communities and the environment can thrive.
We fully support the aspiration of all 17 goals, but there are four specific goals where we believe we can make a real contribution.
The four goals we're contributing towards are:
Clean Water and Sanitation
We provide clean and safe water and sanitation to 15 million customers, almost 25 percent of the UK population. We do this 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Every day we supply 2.5 billion litres of drinking water and treat around 4.6 billion litres of sewage. We’re working with Water Resources South East to produce a multi-sector regional resilience plan for the South East of England and outside the UK, we’re working with WaterAid to help deliver its vision of a world where everyone, everywhere, has access to safe water and sanitation.
Affordable and Clean Energy
We’re working to increase the amount of renewable energy we generate, helping to increase the share of renewable energy in the UK and global mix. In 2021/22, we generated over 24% of our own electricity needs from renewable sources. We have two wind turbines at sites in east London and Solar Panels at 43 sites, including Europe’s largest floating solar panel array at our Queen Elizabeth II Reservoir. Self-generating our own renewable energy reduces our greenhouse gas emissions and grid electricity costs. In 2022, we completed our new biomethane plant at Deephams sewage treatment works which captures the biogas released during the sewage treatment process, converts it into biomethane, and injects it directly into the local gas network. This provides enough renewable fuel to heat the equivalent of more than 3,500 homes a year.
Responsible Consumption and Production
We’re working to become more efficient, reduce waste and increase how much we recycle and re-use. 100 percent of sewage sludge is put to beneficial use, with treated sludge being applied to agricultural land as fertiliser or used in land restoration/reclamation, and incinerator ash being used to create aggregate. We also help our customers save water and energy through our water efficiency programme including smarter home and business visits, water efficiency incentives, a water efficiency calculator and a smart meter rollout.
We’re committed to helping the UK achieve its target of eliminating all avoidable plastic waste no later than 2042. We're reducing our reliance on single-use plastic, reducing its impact on the environment. We’ve been promoting the benefits of consuming our high-quality tap water instead of using water bottled in single-use plastics and will be installing 100 drinking water fountains across the capital in partnership with the Mayor of London.
We’re working to increase our capacity to respond to the impacts of climate change and mitigate our own impact. We have published our update to the Government (Adaptation Reporting Power 3) on our understanding and preparedness for the impacts of climate change under the 2008 Climate Change Act. We’ve assessed the potential impact on our ability to provide our customers with water and wastewater services. In 2021/22, our net operational emissions were 269.8ktCO2e a reduction of around 68% compared to 1990 and we also used 100% renewable electricity. We’ve also set ourselves a goal to become zero net carbon by 2030 for our operational activities. This underlines our commitment to mitigate climate change twenty years ahead of the recently announced Government target. Whilst we haven’t yet identified how we'll get to net zero, we'll be developing our plan over the next few years to achieve this goal. We believe it's important to set our sights high to help keep global warming below 1.5oC.