Severn Trent Services (STS) carbon, sustainability and the Carbon Task Force

Mike Williamson, the Head of Operating Services, offers his thoughts on COP26 and what we’re doing to help.

COP 26 has come to an end. Lots of negotiation, some agreements were reached, and compromises were made. It was great to see the world’s leaders (and a lot of business leaders too) come together, but it still feels like there is a way to go if we’re going to work collectively and collaboratively to protect our planet for the generations that will follow us.

This was the first COP that I felt properly connected to. The UK location and the commitment from our political leaders may have helped, but it also helps to have a personal connection. And recently I’ve been inspired by the commitments from our company Severn Trent by the potential for the water and wastewater sector to be able to change our future and by the opportunity this presents us to provide improved services and products for customers. This led to me, through curiosity and a desire to do more, to join the Net Zero Task Force for Small Businesses.

The Net Zero Task Force for Small Businesses is a Government task force, led by Andrew Griffith MP and his team of highly dedicated civil servants. It involves like-minded companies and institutions, who volunteered to come together and help spread the message about net zero for businesses and why it’s a good thing for the business, the environment, the economy and employees.

Being part of the task force was fantastic. I saw the passion that others have for the subject and I learnt a lot. I also learnt that there’s loads more to do here. It is easier for a massive company to make commitments and then resource them, it’s not as easy if you are a smaller company and you’re worried about the costs and benefits. Overall, I realised that the only way we are going to tackle this problem is by learning as much as we can and supporting each other as we change how we do things.

So, what can we do? The good news is, there’s an awful lot. If we start at the individual, for example, I hadn’t realised how wasteful it was to boil more water in the kettle than you need for the morning cuppa (I should have done, I just didn’t really think it through). At work we can do more – light switches and computer screens must be switched off when we aren’t using them (especially at the end of a day in the office) and we should be thinking through how we spend our energy generally. On operations we should be looking at our processes, our assets, our products and thinking through how much they cost in terms of energy. For our customers we can improve things too. We are brilliant at being efficient with our money, spending it wisely and focussing on delivering quality for our customers. Alongside this we should also be asking ourselves, all the time, are we brilliant at managing energy and carbon emissions.

The great news is, we are one of the leading lights in the sector. Severn Trent Plc set bold, ambitious targets relating to carbon use and renewable energy before many others, and this helped change the landscape across the sector and to some extent in the FTSE 100. We should feel proud. But we will now need to make good on those promises both internally and externally and this is where STS can really make a difference. We have the capability to advise and then deliver carbon reduction for anyone who operates water and waste water assets (and this is most organisations in the UK) This will require innovation, creativity, a desire to learn and achieve, but most of all it will require activity and a passion to make a difference. I’m up for the challenge. I want us to be more sustainable as a business and I want us to help other businesses become more sustainable. With our expertise in consulting on and designing, building, operating and maintaining water and waste assets I know we can make a huge difference for people and businesses across the UK and in turn help the UK achieve its COP26 commitments.

If you want to follow our journey keep an eye on the ST Services LinkedIn page.