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. In 2012, we set ourselves 10 strategic targets to reduce the environmental and ethical impacts of our operations by 2020.

The targets include reducing our carbon emissions, energy, waste, water and paper. We also set goals to increase recycling, procure electricity from renewable sources and commission buildings to the highest sustainability standards.

We reached three of our targets ahead of schedule, and in 2017 made our carbon emissions, waste, paper and renewables targets more ambitious.

We continue to work on environmental performance in our operations and strive to be a leader in this field. We work with our employees, collaborate closely with strategic suppliers and run an eco-fund trialling innovative approaches to help achieve our targets.

As we get closer to our target year of 2020, we continue to review performance towards our goals while anticipating the next phase of our operational sustainability strategy.

Progress against our key targets

Goal
 
2020 target (set from 2011 baseline) Progress to date (2018)
Commentary
CO2 Emissions reduction¹
2.0 CO2 tonnes per full-time equivalent employee (FTE)
2.39 CO2 tonnes per FTE
We continue to reduce our carbon emissions by reducing our energy consumption, being more efficient in our buildings, working with our strategic partners, and focusing on our renewable procurement strategy.
Electricity from renewables²
100% by 2030, 90% by 2025³
29%³
We are an active member of RE100, a group of businesses committed to sourcing 100 per cent of their electricity from renewable sources.
Energy reduction
1.2 MWh per FTE: this is equivalent to a 20% reduction on the 2011 baseline
1.17 MWh per FTE
In collaboration with our global facilities partner, we have saved approximately 600 million kWh across our operations since we set this target in 2012. This means we are 98% of the way to meeting our energy reduction goal.
Waste reduction¹
75% of baseline
63% of baseline
Waste and recycling processes differ greatly across our global estate, making these some of our most challenging goals to achieve.
Waste recycling
100%
61%
We work with our local facilities partners to find the best ways to reduce, segregate and recycle while encouraging our employees to take small actions to support our waste goals.
Paper reduction¹
66% of baseline
62% of baseline
By incorporating digital solutions across our operations, we have been able to meet our previous goal of 50% reduction in paper usage. We have stretched our target, and continue to introduce paper-free processes across the business.
Sustainably sourced paper
100%
77%
In 2018, 77% of our paper came from certified sustainable sources, down from 93% in 2017. In part, this is because one of our suppliers was unable to provide the level of proof needed to gain FSC certification in 2018. We have worked with the supplier to rectify the issue and remain committed to our goal.
Water reduction
50%
46%
We focus our water reduction strategy in water-scarce countries and continue to educate our employees and communities in which we operate about the global water challenge through the HSBC Water Programme.
Green buildings
Build 50 properties to highest environmental standards
77
We reached our goal in 2015 and continue to build new properties with such sustainability standards. In 2018, we opened our new HSBC UK headquarters, which was built to a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold standard, making it the first building in Birmingham to be constructed to this standard. In 2019, we opened our new UAE headquarters with a LEED Gold standard.
Data centres efficiency
1.50 Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE)
1.53
We continue to explore metrics to help better understand the efficiency of the IT estate and find ways to make our data centres more efficient.

Reducing 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.

In 2018, our energy use reduced by 4 per cent from 2017, and is now down 35 per cent from our 2011 baseline. This, along with renewable energy purchases, reduced our 2018 annual carbon emissions per employee to 2.39 tonnes. Since 2011, our carbon emissions have fallen by 30 per cent per FTE. In 2018, our total CO2 emissions were 559,000 tonnes. PwC perform a limited assurance on our carbon emissions reporting. The assurance letters can be found on the ESG reporting and policies page.

Carbon emissions per employee

Total carbon emissions

Our renewable electricity challenge

Since 2012, our renewable electricity strategy has evolved from purchasing renewable energy credits to influencing the markets in which we operate by sourcing electricity through power purchase agreements (‘PPAs’) that provide additional renewable energy to a country’s energy mix. In 2017, we committed to ensuring that 100 per cent of our electricity was sourced from renewable sources by 2030, with an interim commitment of 90 per cent by 2025. Between 2012 and the end of 2018, we contracted up to 29 per cent of our electricity consumption through PPAs in various countries. As we strive to achieve our goal, we are conscious of the challenges this will present, such as in some markets where PPAs are currently unavailable and where our consumption may be too small for projects.

We are members of global initiatives, such as RE100, a global initiative uniting more than 100 influential businesses committed to 100 per cent renewable electricity, that aim to create a united corporate voice to influence countries’ policy to open markets.

Our waste challenge

Our initial 2020 target was to reduce our total waste by 50 per cent from our 2011 baseline. This was achieved in 2015, and then stretched to reduce by 75 per cent from this 2011 baseline. At 2018, we had reduced total waste by 63 per cent. Our recycling target is for 100 per cent of our office and electronic waste to be recycled by 2020. Since 2011, we have recycled 61 per cent of our office waste. Our stretch targets will be a challenge to achieve. As we continue to reduce our total waste, it becomes increasingly difficult to increase or maintain recycling levels. With differences within cities and buildings, we continue to address the waste challenge by finding ways to reduce waste, segregate and recycle. Most importantly, we continue to engage with our employees to better explain and further educate on local waste and recycling challenges.

We also aim to cut paper use by 66 per cent, up from a target of 50 per cent. By the end of 2018, we had reduced overall paper use by 62 per cent, while certified sustainably sourced paper accounted for 77 per cent of all paper used by HSBC. Read our Paper Sourcing Policy (PDF 23KB).

Working with our 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.

Sustainability training and engagement

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.

Further details of our Social and Environmental Key Facts can be found under ESG reporting and policies.

Notes:
1. Several goals were achieved since 2011 and stretched as follows: (i) CO2 emissions reduction 2020 target was set at 2.5 CO2 tonnes/FTE until 2017, when the target was stretched to 2.0 CO2 tonnes/FTE; (ii) Waste reduction 2020 target was set at 50% until 2017, when the target was stretched to 75%, and (iii) Paper reduction target was set at 50% until 2017, when the target was stretched to 66%
2. Electricity in entire operations
3. 100% is our target for 2030, with an interim goal of 90% by 2025

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