Developer commits to 2025 'zero environmental harm'

A large construction and development company has committed to eliminating waste and carbon from its operations by 2025.

Wates Group has pledged to hit three key targets within the next five years, which it says will “help to ensure it does ‘zero harm’ to the environment”:

  • Zero waste - reduction and then elimination of all waste created from on-site operations
  • Zero carbon from operations and operational vehicles
  • Positive impact on nature – enhancement of the natural environment wherever it operates

The firm says it will take a number of meaningful actions such as switching to an all-electric commercial vehicle fleet, eliminating single use plastic from its operations and supply chain, investing in sustainable building techniques, organising sustainability placements for graduate and apprenticeship staff, planting 5,000 trees annually, and ensuring that all sites or frameworks deliver at least one nature enhancement project.

This year, Wates says it will focus on raising awareness, education and engagement, as well as using data collection to set accurate benchmarks. Additionally, it will work with customers, supply chain and joint venture partners to “find better and more innovative ways to reduce waste and, energy consumption and to enhance the natural environment”.

Chief Executive David Allen said: “We have established bold, ambitious, deliberately stretching targets for creating zero harm to the environment by 2025 because we believe that by committing to something extraordinary, we can achieve something extraordinary.  Together with our partners, we will reduce waste and carbon, and improve our natural environment for generations to come.

“Our industry has made and continues to make an unhelpful contribution to the global climate crisis.  We have a responsibility to reduce and eventually to reverse the impact we’re having on our planet and are determined that everyone in the Wates Group will do what is necessary to make a real and lasting difference.”

John Dunne, Group Health, Safety, Environment and Quality Director, added: “It’s no secret that we work in one of the least environmentally sustainable industries in the world. According to the Construction Climate Challenge, our sector is responsible for up to 50 per cent of climate change, 40 per cent of energy usage and 50 per cent of landfill waste.

“At Wates, we know that this cannot continue. We are choosing to take a leading role in reducing our industry’s environmental impact. We work with a diverse range of public and private sector partners and businesses of all sizes are part of our supply chain. A key part of achieving zero harm to the environment will be working collaboratively with these partners.  Our strategy will focus our attentions and energies on achieving zero waste, zero carbon and positive nature enhancement by 2025; and everyone has a vital role to play in achieving it.”

According to Wates, in 2019 it offset 1,042 tonnes of CO2 by supporting international offset projects and enhanced the UK environment by planting 5,230 trees, while 74% of the electricity it used came from renewable sources.

And the firm has had success with other targets. Following the 2016 launch of a five-year programme to achieve zero harm in safety by 2020, Wates has seen a huge drop in the frequency rate of accidents (AFR), with the last recorded figures showing the RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations) AFR down 26% from 2017.