The Wickes name goes as far back as 1854, when Henry Dunn Wickes and his brother started a modest operation in the local lumber business in Michigan, USA. We are taking positive steps to improve energy efficiency and reduce waste from our stores, offices and distribution centres, whilst making a concerted effort to source our materials and products from environmentally responsible suppliers and manufacturers. Through the Responsible Business Strategy, Wickes has positioned the Environment as one of its 3 key pillars, alongside People and Homes. We have committed to decarbonising our sites, transport and operations, to fight climate change and protect the natural environment. We will do this by being a net-zero business by 2040, setting Science-Based Targets, and removing operational waste from our business. Wickes has set the following targets, which can be found under the Responsible Business pages in our Annual Report:
- Develop a net-zero pathway to support the BRC Climate Action Roadmap.
- Commit to set Science-Based Targets in 2022.
- Set targets to increase our operational recycling rates and reduce our waste to landfill.
Protecting the environment isn’t just about reducing our carbon emissions. It’s about how we use our resources like water efficiently, limit the waste we produce and how it is managed, and protect natural environments and biodiversity.
Our first full carbon footprinting exercise allows us to better understand where our emissions are coming from and what we need to do to reduce them in line with the BRC Climate Action Roadmap. Our carbon footprint stands at 2,346,057 tonnes CO2e, with the vast majority of emissions coming from our Scope 3, totalling 2,309,079 tCO2e. This is due to the products we sell and their lifetime use. Our Scope 1 and 2 operational emissions stand at 36,978 tCO2e and are fairly evenly split between the electricity we use to keep the lights on, the gas we use to heat our stores and the vehicles we use to transport our goods.
Decarbonising our estate over the coming years will be a priority, and we are setting out our plans to achieve this goal. When we renew our energy contracts in 2023, we will be switching to a green electricity contract, ensuring all of our stores, distribution centres and support centres will be powered by renewable electricity. We will be reducing our absolute gas emissions through improved heating controls and management. We are also trialling new electric heating systems in our stores, as a potential alternative to gas heating systems in the future.
We transport and deliver a lot of products, not only to restock our stores, but also to deliver directly to customers. This means we cover a lot of miles in the process, around 14 million miles a year. In order to reach all of our customers across the UK, we rely on a variety of distribution partners and vehicles. Most of our distribution network relies on HGVs (heavy goods vehicles), as electric and hybrid technology currently doesn't have the range to support our needs and the charging infrastructure for these vehicles is still in development. However, we are exploring new low-carbon vehicle technologies such as electric vans for shorter routes, and we are getting ready to test hydrogenated vegetable oil (HVO) in 2022.
We also acknowledge that our own charging infrastructure requires improvement. We currently have electric vehicle chargers at our Support Centre and one of our distribution centres. We will be working with our landlords to explore the integration of electric vehicle charging stations across our estate.
We produce a lot of waste through our operations and installations, around 44,600 tonnes a year, and managing this is a huge area of focus for us. We recycle 91% of our waste, and send 5% for energy recovery. We aim to send as little waste to landfill as possible; however, for some waste streams in our business there is currently no alternative, meaning a small amount, around 3.5% is still sent to landfill. Our ambition is to ensure everything that can be diverted from landfill will be either recycled or incinerated to generate energy. There is more we can do with our waste and in 2022 we will be looking to set operational recycling targets across our stores and landfill reduction targets.
This is an area of our strategy that is still in its infancy. We spent 2021 consolidating our water suppliers and billing so we can paint an accurate picture of our consumption. Our aim is to review this data, and work with a new single supplier for our estate, to set water reduction targets that match our other ambitions. Although we do not expect our water consumption to be high, we know that water stresses will become more prevalent in the UK as temperatures rise, and we will make sure we do our part to relieve these pressures.
British Retail Consortium Climate Action Roadmap
Wickes is a signatory of the British Retail Consortium Climate Action Roadmap, which is a commitment to net zero across Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions by 2040. The Roadmap sets out five pathways to decarbonisation which we will be addressing across our business. Over the next year we will develop a roadmap to deliver this target, aligned to the 5 pathways of:
- Placing GHG data at the core of business decisions
- Operating efficient sites powered by renewables
- Moving to low carbon logistics
- Sourcing sustainably
- Helping our employees and customers live low carbon lifestyles
Homes for the Future
According to the British Retail Consortium, the UK's homes contribute up to 25% of the UK's carbon emissions, and the challenge of retrofitting these homes with sustainable technologies remains one of the largest in achieving the UK's net zero targets. Wickes will look to help to address these challenges, as well as ensure our products are responsibly sourced and sustainable.
Wickes sells a wide range of products that are both responsibly sourced and support sustainable homes and living. All our timber products are responsibly sourced and certified; we offer customers peat free compost, and a variety of smart heating and lighting solutions to make homes more energy efficient. We have also developed project pages on our customer website that support customers with their energy efficiency home improvement projects, including insulation, lighting and smart homes.
With thousands of products of all shapes and sizes, packaging is an essential part of our business. We also recognise that we need to work hard to improve and reduce packaging in our business, and have set ourselves some challenging packaging improvement and reduction targets over the next few years.
By 2023, we will eliminate all unnecessary packaging across our business. This target is designed to focus our teams on efficient packaging strategies, and looks to make an absolute reduction in our packaging volumes.
By 2025, all our packaging will be easy to recycle or reuse. This target will focus on the materials we use in our packaging – moving away from unrecyclable materials such as PVC and polystyrene, to those that offer the opportunity for a second lease of life as either future packaging materials, construction materials, or those that are biodegradable. Also, by 2025, 50% of our customer plastic and paper packaging will come from recycled materials. This target aims to reduce the use of virgin materials within our packaging strategy.
To support these targets we have built a new packaging management system, which allows us to monitor and manage the packaging within our business, and work with our suppliers and colleagues to understand and reduce its impact.