PwC to call on clients to think before you fly

by James Murray,

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16 Oct 2012

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PWC IS TO LAUNCH  a campaign to try to encourage clients to avoid a tenth of their business flights.

The Big Four firm will formally launch the "one in 10 eco-delivery challenge" later this year in a move designed to encourage clients to think about whether some meetings require business flights or can be conducted using video or web conferencing, Accountancy Age's sister publication reports.

The inspiration for the campaign came after PwC confirmed client-related travel was the one area where the firm had failed to meet sustainability targets set back in 2007 and lapsed this summer.

"We had a target to cut client-related travel 25%, but in fact it has risen 62% over the period," admitted head of corporate sustainability Bridget Jackson.

"We've experienced greater internationalisation of the business and the UK has a big role in supporting markets in India, Middle East and Africa, all of which led to more travel. But we are going to have to tackle it, so we are asking clients to work with us to identify meetings that we can do without travel."

The increase in client-related travel is the one blot in an otherwise impressive copy-book for PwC, which saw the firm comfortably exceed targets for reduced energy use, waste production and internal travel.

A target to reduce travel to internal meetings by 45% was smashed as the deployment of video and web conferencing technology enabled a 73% cut in travel, while the level of waste per head being produced by the company has also fallen 27%.

Jackson said in addition to curbing waste levels by working with suppliers to remove unnecessary packaging and switching to double-sided printing, the company had taken a number of innovative steps to slash the level of waste being sent to landfill.

"We're working with Kimberly Clark to turn all shredded paper from our offices into paper towels, which we then use," she said, adding a similar project to turn waste cooking oil into biofuel for the company's CHP unit and soap for its bathrooms was also proving successful.

"They create great word of mouth in the office and demonstrate that core sustainability concept of closed loop thinking in a way people can see and understand."

Perhaps most significantly, the company has confirmed it has reduced energy use by 29% between 2007 and 2012, saving £7m on its energy bills and a further £250,000 through not having to buy as many carbon offsets to attain carbon-neutral status.

Jackson explained the steep reductions in energy use had been delivered through a range of high- and low-tech initiatives, ranging from deploying voltage optimisation technology, which has cut office energy use by 9%, to shifting cleaning rotas so that lighting and heating can be turned off earlier at night, cutting bills by 12%.

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