Our environmental response

The entire world is acutely aware of the enormous impact that climate change is having on our planet. Every time we charge our phones, open a laptop and do a Google search or take a trip in a car or on a plane, there’s a cost to the Earth as a little more of the ‘greenhouse gas’, carbon dioxide (CO2), is emitted into the atmosphere.

The electricity we all consume is produced in large part by processes that emit carbon dioxide. The same goes for gas and indeed water too. Moreover, every item we buy and use, wear or consume in any way, similarly takes large amounts of energy to grow or manufacture, distribute, deliver to us and, ultimately, dispose of.

As a sizeable organisation delivering a range of face-to-face and online services across the UK and beyond, the activities AbilityNet undertakes also produce carbon dioxide.

Minimising our environmental impact

AbilityNet has an Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) policy that informs everything we do. In terms of minimising the impact of our activities on the environment, our policy is clear and emphatic; “We seek to minimise our environmental footprint, consistent with delivering our charitable goals and the safe and efficient conduct of our operations.” Our policy includes:

  • A ‘remote first’ approach to the delivery of our services wherever appropriate, and to all internal meetings (making them hybrid as needed between teams/offices)
  • Having a similar approach to all events we organise and those we attend
  • Encouraging the use of public transport wherever reasonable, an active ‘Cycle to work’ scheme and the option of home working
  • Minimising our office space and endeavouring to choose greener (BREEAM-compliant) spaces, close to public transport routes, wherever possible
  • Considering environmental factors and the eco-commitment of our service providers when making procurement decisions
  • Powering off all work devices at home and in the office when not in use – even modern standby modes consume around a third of the power of a device in normal use – and only printing when absolutely necessary

We also encourage awareness of personal choices which our employees can make in issues such as:

  • Food choices (did you know that meat accounts for 50% of our food's CO2 production and only 20% of our calories?) and endeavouring to minimise food waste
  • Being thoughtful about travel choices for commuting and other work-related trips
  • Avoiding unnecessary heating or cooling, whether at home or in the office 
  • Supporting community recycling schemes such as “Terracycle

Addressing our carbon footprint

Despite all the above, we obviously still produce CO2 emissions each working day of the year. With the careful use of tools and a few educated assumptions, we can arrive at a total for this output (measured in metric tons of CO2).

This year (2022) we have taken our first step towards offsetting our annual CO2 outputs (and addressing our emissions legacy) by supporting one of the several accredited schemes that exist to actively extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

After much research - and after receiving advice from a leading industry expert in climate consultancy - we chose a project from a supplier that complies with the Carbon Credit Quality Initiative and began our journey towards not only being carbon-neutral (also known as ‘Net zero’) but addressing our historical emissions too.

The project we chose concentrates on reforestation in the jungles of Sumatra, as well as the building and maintaining of a hydro-electric dam. The reforestation will grow and manage trees that capture carbon dioxide, whilst the dam produces clean energy for thousands of homes that have traditionally relied on the burning of wood for light and cooking.

This first investment will help ‘capture’ the carbon represented by not only our entire activity of 2022, but will also offset several years of historical output.

As a charity we must, of course, proceed with the utmost fiscal prudence. Nevertheless, we are extremely proud to have enhanced our established environmental policies with such an active approach to achieving ‘Net zero’ in the years to come.

Related resources

  • Social: The significant benefit to our stakeholders, driven and informed by our social policy, is outlined in our annual AbilityNet Impact Report, last published in March 2022
  • Governance: We have outlined our approach to good governance (including oversight, articles of memorandum and audit process etc) on our governance page
Default content