Sustainable operations

HSBC plays a key part in supporting the transition to a low-carbon economy, both via our own operations and by helping customers to reduce their own emissions. We believe it is important to lead by example. For this reason, we have a series of goals to help us achieve a reduction in our environmental impact.

The goals cover energy efficiency, waste reduction and recycling, decarbonising our electricity consumption by purchasing renewable energy, making buildings and data centres more environmentally friendly, reducing water and sustainably sourcing all paper.

The goals and targets were originally set in 2012. We updated our goals and made them more ambitious in 2017, however, as we had already met several of them or were on track to achieve them before the 2020 target date.

We continue to work with our employees, collaborate with suppliers and their supply chains, and run an eco-fund to trial innovative approaches to help achieve our targets.

HSBC continues to improve its environmental performance. In 2017, our operational sustainability efforts resulted in us scoring an A- (a leadership score) with CDP (previously known as the Carbon Disclosure Project), a not-for-profit organisation that rates companies and governments on how they are tackling the climate change challenge.

Progress against our key targets

2020 Goal (set from 2011 baseline) Progress to date (2017)
CO2 Emissions (tonnes per FTE) 2.0 2.49
Electricity from renewables* 100%** 27%**
Energy reduction 1.2 MWh per FTE (20% of baseline) 0.99 MWh per FTE (16%)
Waste reduction 75% of baseline 60%
Paper reduction 66% of baseline 64%
Water reduction 50% of baseline 40%

* Electricity in entire operations (meaning financial or managerial responsibilities)
** 100% goal is 2030, with interim goal of 90% by 2025

Carbon emissions

We aim to cut our annual carbon emissions per employee from 3.5 tonnes in 2011 to 2.0 tonnes by 2020. This target was updated in 2017 from an original goal of 2.5 tonnes.

Our energy use reduced by 9 per cent in 2017 and this, along with renewable energy purchases, reduced our 2017 annual carbon emissions per employee to 2.49 tonnes.

Targeting 100 per cent renewables

In 2017, HSBC joined RE100, a group of businesses committed to sourcing 100 per cent of their electricity from renewables by 2030. Our intention is to achieve this through power purchase agreements, rather than using green tariffs or offsetting.

By the end of 2017, we had signed agreements to purchase 27 per cent of our global electricity from renewable sources building a diversified portfolio of wind and solar projects across various countries.

Read Andy Maguire, Group Chief Operating Officer, HSBC, discussing why and how HSBC targets 100 per cent renewables.


We aim to reduce waste by 75 per cent by 2020 compared with our 2011 benchmark, up from an original target of 50 per cent. By the end of 2017 we had reduced waste by 60 per cent. This includes reducing our use of plastic in our offices, focusing on single-use plastic.

We also aim to cut paper use by 66 per cent, up from a target of 50 per cent. By the end of 2017, we had reduced overall paper use by 64 per cent, while certified sustainably sourced paper accounted for 93 per cent of all paper used by HSBC. Read our Paper Sourcing Policy PDF 23KB .

Supply chains

We continued to ensure adherence to our updated Ethical and Environmental Code of Conduct for Suppliers and partnered with a specialist consultancy to undertake risk assessments of all large new suppliers and any suppliers who had contracts renewed. We constantly review our supplier relationships and require them, through adherence to our Code of Conduct and ongoing dialogue, to support our operational sustainability goals and to ensure modern slavery and human rights violations are not present within our extended supply chain.


We have trained more than 2,000 senior managers, clients and suppliers through HSBC’s Sustainability Leadership Programme since 2009. Participants are expected to embed sustainability into decision-making and project delivery in the businesses and functions where they work. Online courses about our approach to sustainability are also available to all employees through our HSBC University training platform.

In addition to reducing our impact on the environment, our operational sustainability strategy allows us to engage our customers and clients in supporting and financing their transition to a low-carbon, sustainable way of doing business.

Full details of our environmental impact and community investment data can be found in our Key Facts 2017 document PDF 77KB .

Did you find this page useful?

Why didn't you find this page useful?

Thank you. We appreciate you taking the time to give us feedback.

News and insight

Who cares wins

Businesses must adapt to the rise of the green and socially-conscious young consumer.

A car charging at an electric point in a rural location

Road-testing the electric dream

Why is HSBC’s Global Head of Research planning to travel across Europe in an electric car?

Businesses seek green gains

Businesses can benefit financially by encouraging their suppliers to be more sustainable.