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How we're managing our biggest sustainability issues

How we're managing our biggest sustainability issues

At Virgin Media we don’t think that sustainability is the job of one team – we think everyone has a role to play in helping us achieve our targets. In 2013, we prioritised working on three issues – to help us establish accountability within the business and to ensure we have an action plan in place to drive change.

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Here’s why we chose these three as our initial priority issues and what we’re doing about each one:

Carbon

The energy we use to power our operations and digital network is our biggest source of carbon emissions. With increasing carbon tax, the rising cost of energy, and continued business growth we needed to drive improved performance in this area, so we’ve been working closely with teams across the business to create a carbon action plan that will help us better manage our carbon emissions in the future.

Our carbon action plan focuses on improving monitoring processes across our corporate and technical sites, ensuring more collaborative, joined-up planning and implementation of our key energy efficiency projects and, forming an energy and carbon subcommittee to monitor the progress of our project goals and targets.

Paper

Virgin Media uses a lot of paper. We know this is an area where customers would like to see improvements particularly when it comes to paper used for marketing communication - so in 2013 we established an internal working group to develop our long-term paper use strategy.

In 2014 our plan is to start rolling out a three-tiered approach for tackling our paper use, this will involve:

  1. Working to reduce the environmental impact of our paper use through optimising our production and printing processes (we already source 99% of our paper from FSC and PEFC accredited suppliers).
  2. Exploring ways to reduce the volume of mail we send to our customers, improving our targeting, optimising the distribution channels we use for our communications and improving our opt-out process.
  3. Investigating new digital ways of communicating with our current and potential customers for example through email and social media communication platforms.

Product power consumption

The energy used by our products in our customers’ homes is our biggest source of scope three carbon emissions, accounting for double the carbon emitted from our own operations. As our products get better and their functionality evolves over time, the amount of power they use typically increases as we ask them to do more. We want to do everything we can to ensure we have the most energy efficient products available.

To achieve this, we have been working with our product teams to formally integrate sustainability principles into the specification and design stages of all our products. We’ve also developed and deployed firmware upgrades for our TiVo set top boxes reducing the rate of power they consume by 30%.

In 2014 we will continue to look for new and innovative ways to improve the energy efficiency of our products and explore new ways of providing guidance and information to our customers to stimulate behaviour change and improve energy efficiency in our customers’ homes.

What’s next?

Carbon, paper use and product power consumption will remain our big areas of focus throughout 2014 – and we’ll be reporting back on our progress throughout the year ahead - so watch this space.