This is an interesting report because it shows how a range of big ideas are being pulled together to provide a coherent framework towards achieving a more sustainable water sector in Scotland. 

Sustainability and Climate Change – Scottish Water – Sustainability report

Scottish Water ‘Our purpose is to support the protection of public health and the environment through providing high quality affordable drinking water and safely managing society’s waste water. We do this whilst ensuring our services are affordable and support Scotland’s economy. Water and waste water services are vital to a sustainable society. Our challenge is to find ways to be increasingly sustainable in how we deliver those services. Our Sustainability Reports, published on this page, show examples of some of our achievements in supporting a sustainable Scotland. They also contain our annual Carbon Footprint Reports.

2016 Sustainability Report

We are delighted to share highlights from our 2016 Sustainability Report:

  • Our carbon footprint has reduced, supported by the decarbonisation of the electricity grid.
  • Working in partnership to develop sustainable solutions for Scotland starts to target renewable heat and waste oil opportunities.
  • Development Centres are up and running, allowing the safe testing of new or innovative technologies that will support sustainable services in future.

Our Sustainability Report for 2016  has the theme ‘Circular Economy’. A circular economy is an alternative to a traditional linear economy (make – use – dispose) in which products and materials are kept in a high value state of use for as long as possible, then recovered and regenerated at the end of each service life (make – use – repair – re-use – recycle). Examples of circular thinking that we describe in our report include:

  • The heat from wastewater scheme recently installed at Borders College in Galashiels
  • A waste oil recycling scheme being run in partnership with Sainsbury’s
  • Use of treated sewage sludge in land reclamation or as a soil improver for agricultural land
  • Anaerobic digestion of food waste to generate renewable electricity

The report also provides details of our annual carbon footprint.

Carbon Footprint

We monitor and report our annual operational carbon footprint to help us understand how our emissions of greenhouse gases are accounted for by the different processes and activities within the business. Knowing our carbon footprint allows us to efficiently manage these emissions and to benchmark ourselves against the UK water industry as a whole.

After rising in 2014/15 due to an increase in the carbon intensity of grid electricity, our annual carbon footprint fell by 14,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) to 390,000 tCO2e, a reduction of 3.5%. A reduction in grid carbon intensity was one of the main reasons behind this fall.

Since we began monitoring and reporting our carbon footprint in 2006/07, our annual emissions have fallen by almost 16%.

The graph below shows the reduction in our footprint since 2006/07. It is notable that this long term downward trend has been achieved alongside continued investment to deliver higher service levels, meet growth in demand and improve statutory compliance 

Two other articles on this theme 

Decarbonising Water

This article from Utility Week, looks at what water companies are doing to reduce carbon emissions.

Water Company Renewable Energy – What’s the target?  With energy bills being one of the biggest water company overheads (50% by some estimates) the target the companies are setting for becoming self sufficient are interesting as a range of comments providing the context to recent renewables investment highlights. The growing technical expertise of water companies with AD, solar and wind and considerable land and reservoir resources to hand is a major opportunity. Interestingly this provides the backdrop discussion to many of the news items on water company investment in renewables but also begs a question of whether water companies should be more ambitious both in terms of their targets.

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