Responsible consumption

We are committed to reducing our waste and driving behaviours to a circular economy approach.

Our Steps to Zero plan also focuses on the adoption of a circular economy approach to enable a reduction in the volume of waste disposed by our customers and our own operations, reduce our overall use of new materials and provide services that promote a circular economy.

Our ambitions

  • 25 per cent reduction in waste generated and water used by 2030.
  • Complete a total review of purchase, distribution, use and disposal of packaging and single-use resources (both internal and external) by 2023.

Our commitments

We will:

  • reduce the volume of natural resources consumed by our operations;
  • reduce the use of single-use items across our business, and support our customers to do the same;
  • adapt our behaviours, considering the life-cycle cost and waste hierarchy before purchasing and disposing of items; and
  • keep products, equipment and infrastructure in use for longer, to minimise resource inputs and the associated creation of waste, pollution and emissions.

Our progress

During FY2021-22, Royal Mail generated 40,000 tonnes of waste, comparable to the prior year. 

We are committed to reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill by Royal Mail. This year, 2% of waste went to landfill. Around 3% of the waste we generated during the year was considered hazardous. This waste stems from vehicle and building maintenance and cleaning products used in our buildings. Over the last year the total amount of waste the Group recycled accounted for 77% of total waste produced. 

We are targeting a 15% reduction in total waste generated and water consumed by 2025, and a total review of the purchase, distribution, use and disposal of packaging and single-use resources by FY2022-23.

We baled 4,700 tonnes of cardboard during the course of the year. Baling ensures that more good-quality, usable material is fed into recycling as a raw material.

Elastic bands are used to hold bundles of mail together. Royal Mail recognises that the littering of elastic bands on streets of the UK is a potential risk to wildlife and the environment. Royal Mail has steadily reduced elastic band usage by over 30% in the last five years, purchasing around 304 million bands in FY2021-22, compared with 437 million in FY2017-18.

We know there is still potential to further reduce the number of elastic bands we use and the number that end up littered. Elastic band reuse will continue to be a focus in FY2022-23 with an awareness campaign that includes Royal Mail TV guidance, a video series for Royal Mail colleagues. Additionally, we plan to trial elastic band alternatives such as self-gripping straps which was a suggestion by one of our posties.

We are committed to reducing our water use by 25% by 2030. Our water consumption is largely for domestic purposes, such as washroom facilities, and vehicle and equipment cleaning. During the year, Royal Mail used 1,305,660m³ of water, an 8% decrease from the previous year, which has been delivered through the implementation of water efficiency measures alongside data monitoring.

A total of 19 of Royal Mail’s high-water consuming locations have been fitted with water saving measures including aerating taps, urinal controls and low-flow shower heads this year. In FY2022-23, a further 65 locations will be surveyed with plans to implement additional water efficiency improvements throughout our estate.

Feature: The Queen's Green Canopy 

The Queen’s Green Canopy (QGC) is a unique, UK-wide tree planting initiative created to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022, by inviting people to “Plant a Tree for the Jubilee.” Royal Mail is proud to be the Founding Platinum Supporter of The QGC. To mark the launch, Royal Mail has planted mature trees across all nations of the UK at four Royal Mail sites. 

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Royal Mail staff planting a tree at Swansea Mail Centre