Earlier this year, Better Wholesaling Insight worked alongside JTI to undertake the largest ever sustainability research across the industry. JTI then met with a number of wholesalers and has been working closely with United Wholesale Scotland (UWS) to help the wholesaler improve its sustainability credentials.
JTI initially created a step-by-step environmental improvement plan to focus on four key areas – including employee engagement, company cars, measurement & communication, and green energy and emissions. Kirsty Rice, JTI’s Environmental Manager and author of JTI UK’s 2030 Environmental Plan, then analysed progress and advised on setting future reduction targets to further help UWS.
Finally, JTI ran a workshop on sustainability for UWS’s new Green Champions team to set them up for their sustainability journey ahead. Jason Butler and Chris Gallacher of UWS recently joined JTI’s sustainability director Ruth Forbes, to discuss the huge progress made within the four key focus areas.
“The very first thing we did was to send a sustainability survey out to all our staff,” explained Butler. “From that, we had some really quick wins such as plastic recycling stations and a reduction in our printed materials. 60% in the survey said climate change was very important to them, so we knew we were working with a passionate employee base.”
UWS then went on to form Team Green – a collection of employees across the business who received formal training and are now the main point of contact on sustainability and the key catalysts for driving sustainable change. Forbes described JTI’s similar method: “Our sustainability team isn’t responsible for our environmental targets, everyone at JTI is including our employee task force which has representatives from all over the business who work together to deliver the ambitious goals we have set.”
“Because sustainability is so important to us, we’re investing in half of our fleet of 10 lorries to go to hydrogen in partnership with a company called Arkola energy,” explained Gallacher. UWS has also improved the standard of daily vehicle checks, set MOT pass targets and introduced tracking software and KPIs for its drivers.
Measurement and communication
“It’s very important to measure your current environmental footprint,” said Forbes. “You need to understand your current situation in order to set your targets and create the action plan that will enable you to drive change and meet your long-term goals.” Prior to the partnership, UWS communicated its values through three key foundations: ‘People fit for the future’, ‘Key partnerships’ and ‘Tools and Technology’. But since its work with JTI it’s now added a fourth key pillar of ‘Sustainability.’ The wholesaler also has a longer-term plan in place and knows that by 2025, if it has solar panels installed at its branches, it’ll be able to produce 22% of its electricity on site.
“If you were to take a general wholesaler, they would always take sales and costs as general measures for business success,” explained Gallacher. “This partnership with JTI has taught me that sustainability needs to be measured as well.”
Green energy and emissions
By moving from brown to green energy UWS will save over 100,000 tonnes of carbon over two years. “As well as this, simple things like harvesting your own rainwater to clean your trucks is great from a cost-and-sustainability point of view. “Until we started to get inspiration from the likes of JTI we wouldn’t have thought about things such as this,” said Gallacher.