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We’re a big operation, with around 800 different UK sites, 4000 vans, 186,000kms of network and over 14,000 staff and we’re taking responsibility for growing our business in a sustainable way. This includes responsibly managing the environmental impacts of our business operations.


Our carbon emissions and the waste that we generate are our biggest impacts in this area, so our targets reflect this. We also know that our direct marketing is a real issue for people so this is something we want to improve on.

How we did

Energy efficiency


Reduce our total energy consumption by 3%.


In 2012, our energy consumption increased by 2% compared to 2011, but overall we have reduced our energy consumption by 2% against our 2007 baseline figure.

Carbon 2015


15% reduction in total gross carbon emissions (Scope 1 and 2 – our direct and indirect emissions) by 2015 against our 2007 baseline.


We have reduced our carbon emissions by 2% against our gross 2007 baseline.

However if we take into account our commitment to purchasing 100% Climate Change Levy exempt renewable energy, this reduces our net carbon emissions by 84% to 42,862 tonnes.

Based on an assessment of our 2011 data, our carbon footprint is calculated to ± 7% for Scope 1 & 2. We believe this figure is robust as the majority of the data is collected from meter readings. The smallest theoretical error margin using the Green House Gas Protocol published methodology is 5% as all sources have a minimum error margin of 5% unless the CO2 is directly monitored. As the main source of emissions for Virgin Media comes from Scope 2, direct monitoring of these sources is not currently feasible.

Climate Change Levy exemption means that we have purchased our electricity from a tariff comprising energy from zero or low carbon sources with renewable obligation certification.

Carbon 2013


Deliver a 4% reduction in CO2/RGU (an RGU is a revenue-generating unit, such as Broadband, Phone or TV) against 2011 figures


In 2012 we reduced CO2/RGU by 0.3% compared to 2011. This equates to 20.0175kg CO2e/RGU, which is a reduction of 0.083kg compared to 2011.

RGU stands for Revenue Generating Unit and gives an indication of how many different services we’re providing to our customers. Our long-term target is to reduce our carbon emissions by 15% by 2015, based on an absolute 2007 baseline. But as a rapidly growing business, we also report our carbon emissions relative to RGU – along with our revenue (£m).



Ensure 45% of waste is recycled at sites with recycling facilities and 30% of our total waste is recycled across all sites.


We recycled 65% of our waste across our core sites and 60% of our waste across all of our sites.

Van fleet


Further improve the average miles per gallon of our van fleet by 5%.


We improved the average miles per gallon for our van fleet by 17% in 2012, from an average of 23 MPG in 2011 to 26 MPG in 2012.

Car fleet


Reduce the average gCO2/km of our car fleet by 20% by the end of Q1 2013.


We reduced the average gCO2/km of our car fleet from 139g to 112g - an improvement of around 24%


Behind the targets

Energy consumption

The energy required to power our digital network is our biggest source of carbon emissions – after all, we have over 58,000 street cabinets. Other sources include our vehicle fleet, our diesel generators and the electricity used in our offices and stores. We have a long-term target to reduce these emissions by 15% by 2015, against a 2007 baseline.

Our energy usage split in 2012

In 2012, total energy consumption increased by 2% by compared to 2011, so we missed our target to reduce our total energy consumption by 3%. The main reason for this increase was the extra electricity needed to power the doubling of our customers’ broadband speeds.

Our focus for 2013 will be to continue our work to upgrade and install energy management controls at key sites, like our Swansea site.


Compared to 2011, our gross carbon footprint (scopes 1 & 2) increased by 2% in 2012. In the longer term, we’ve achieved a 2% reduction against our 2007 baseline. You can see all our carbon emissions data here.

There were a number of reasons why our carbon emissions increased in 2012. Most significantly, these included an increase in electricity consumption to power the doubling of broadband speeds for our customers, and an increase in the size of our fleet by 1000 vehicles.

Our net carbon footprint takes into account the amount of electricity we use from renewable sources. While we do not have any directly owned or controlled renewable energy sources, at the end of 2012, 93% of our electricity is sourced from 100% Climate Change Levy (CCL) exempt sources, so in 2012 our net carbon emissions are 42,862 tonnes. Climate Change Levy exemption means that we have purchased our electricity from a tariff comprising energy from zero or low carbon sources with renewable obligation certification.

Our carbon footprint

Scope 1 and 2 gross carbon emissions (tonnes CO2e)
Scope 1 and 2 net carbon emissions (tonnes CO2e)
Tonnes CO2e relative to £million revenue

In 2013, we are changing the way we structure our targets to reduce our carbon emissions. Instead of measuring our carbon emissions against Revenue Generating Units (RGU), which gives an indication of how many different services we’re providing to our customers, we will measure carbon emissions against our revenue (£m). This is because we believe revenue will give us a more accurate picture of business growth.

We recognise that as we get closer to 2015, we’re going to find it hard to meet our long-term carbon target but remain committed to doing our best. We’re discussing the best approach with the CR Committee and will review with Liberty Global as our merger completes.

Our fleet

By the end of 2012 we had nearly 4000 vehicles in our fleet and had clocked up around 26 million miles on the road, so improving the efficiency of our fleet is a big focus.

We’re driving down the average miles per gallon of our van fleet by replacing older vans with more fuel efficient models that use stop-start technology, and reducing the weight of our vans by changing the materials used to fit them out. We’ve also made more improvements to how we plan routes, by installing a new, smarter tracking system.

Carbon emissions from company vehicles

In 2012 we started a replacement programme for our car fleet. Our vehicle choice of Ford Focus Zetec was based on vehicle performance as well as environmental impact and business needs. At 99gCO2/km, the new Ford Focus Zetec is significantly more efficient that our previous vehicles. By the end of March 2013, we had replaced 700 cars and reduced the average gCO2/km of our entire fleet to 112g.

With reduced investment through 2013 and no further major vehicle replacement programmes planned, we will focus on improving vehicle performance using technology and training. Our Van Driver of the Year initiative incentivises efficient driving, with the chance to win a holiday to Europe and a UK weekend break to help drive engagement.

Waste & recycling

We’re working to reduce the environmental impact of our paper use and improve recycling. You can see all our waste data here.

In 2012, we changed our waste supplier to help increase the amount of office waste that gets recycled. Our new supplier recovers recyclable material from our general waste that would have previously gone to landfill, so that by the end of 2012, we recycled 65% of our waste across our core sites and 60% of our waste across all of our sites.

We also extended our ‘feed the monsters’ recycling initiative right across our logistics supply chain, helping us to collect scrap cable, waste electrical items, paper, polystyrene, plastics and even coffee cups at each of our 53 ‘Little Red Sheds’ - local distribution points for our install technicians. With the help of our logistics team, we’ve significantly reduced the amount of waste sent to landfill, from 127 tonnes in January to 20 tonnes in December 2012 – an 84% reduction month on month. As well as reducing our environmental impact, this initiative is also saving Virgin Media around £17,000 per month.

In 2013, we’ll continue to look for new ways to reduce the amount of waste we create as a business. This will include investigating the opportunity to introduce a food waste disposal stream with our onsite restaurants and reviewing how we manage waste at technical sites that aren’t part of our Little Red Shed initiative.

Paper use

At Virgin Media, we use a lot of paper – over 14,000 tonnes in 2012. We use paper inside our business and to help communicate the latest deals and offers to our customers, through direct mail and door drops, and we’re working hard to make sure this is responsibly managed.

99% of the paper we use for marketing communications comes from a sustainably managed forest, with 97% from an FSC certified source and 2% from a PEFC certified source. All of our marketing communications can be recycled. And we have implemented a closed-loop recycling system for our internal paper, which means the paper we use in our offices is collected and recycled into new paper.