Tackling climate change

Our business strategy to become a re-manufacturer, clean energy provider and innovator will reduce the UK’s reliance on fossil fuels.

It will also reduce our own exposure to fluctuating energy prices. By working at the heart of the water–energy–waste nexus, we are helping to tackle climate change. We remain one of the few net carbon creditors in the UK government’s Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme, achieving net emissions of -269,000 tonnes CO2 – emissions saved from the atmosphere as a result of our circular economy approach.

Our carbon footprint

Our direct emissions (excluding Veolia Water, which merged with Veolia Environmental Services in 2013) decreased in 2013 mainly due to a 17% reduction in methane emissions from landfill. Indirect emissions from electricity consumption remained steady, despite an 8% increase in the overall waste managed. We avoided a further 8% of emissions thanks to more efficient recovery of materials including glass, plastics and metals.

The Water operations generated 48,500 MWh of renewable energy from biogas and biomass, reducing its direct and indirect emissions by over 15,000 tonnes CO2e and exporting some of the electricity to the national grid.

Greenhouse gas emissions (tonnes CO2e)

  2011 Veolia
2012 Veolia
2013 Veolia
2013 Veolia Water**
Direct emissions (scope 1)
(tonnes CO2e)
1,159,905 1,202,345 1,133,663 5,428
Indirect emissions (scope 2)
(tonnes CO2e)
26,416 31,837 32,766 36,613
Avoided emissions
(tonnes CO2e)
1,069,245 1,168,953 1,202,780 134

Direct ‘scope 1’ emissions are those associated with fuel consumption and positive emissions of carbon (for example from vehicles, the operation of materials recovery facilities (MRF) and fugitive methane emissions from landfill).

Indirect ‘scope 2’ emissions are those associated with electricity consumption at facilities.

Avoided emissions are due to recovering materials for recycling at MRFs, recovering electricity and heat for export at Energy Recovery Facilities and recovering electricity for export from landfills.

*Veolia Environmental Services’ footprint has been restated for all years to account for material changes to the conversion factors provided by Defra for company reporting purposes.
**These are the baseline emissions since the regulated part of the business was sold in June 2012. Future annual emissions will be compared against this baseline.

For more environmental data, please visit our environmental performance data page.

What’s the difference between CO2 and CO2e?

On this page you’ll see references both to CO2 and to CO2e. CO2 is carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas emitted as a result of burning fossil fuels such as oil, coal and natural gas.
However, carbon dioxide isn’t the only greenhouse gas, so CO2e – or carbon dioxide equivalent – is used to measure emissions of other greenhouse gases.

Making carbon savings

We are proud to report that the carbon emissions saved from recovering materials and the export of energy has exceeded those emitted in all of our recycling and waste operations in 2013. We are continually striving to optimise efficiencies in order to improve our carbon footprint, and this is demonstrated by the improvement in the carbon performance ratio from 2011 to 2013.

 “Veolia is a business that thrives on helping other companies to reduce their own environmental impact, so it is great to see them continue to hold the Carbon Trust Standard, which was first achieved by Veolia in 2010. This certification recognises Veolia’s achievements in reducing carbon emissions year on year, through measures such as increased landfill gas recovery.”
Darran Messem, Managing Director – Certification, The Carbon Trust


Carbon performance ratio

The carbon performance ratio (CPR) is the calculation of avoided emissions divided by direct + indirect emissions. When the CPR is greater than 1, the carbon emitted is offset by the carbon avoided.

  2011 2012 2013
Carbon performance ratio
0.90 0.95 1.03

Recovering methane from landfill sites


We have adopted technologies to capture methane generated from landfill sites, achieving a capture rate of 86%. In order to capture further methane emitted, at the majority of our internally operated sites we have deployed systems which should allow further collection by automatically varying the rate of extraction depending on the quantity and quality of methane being emitted.