Daily CSR
Daily CSR

Daily CSR
Daily news about corporate social responsibility, ethics and sustainability

2022 Sustainability Initiatives: Over 50% Reduction in Single-Use Plastic and Ongoing Efforts to Shrink Water and Waste Footprint


2022 Sustainability Initiatives: Over 50% Reduction in Single-Use Plastic and Ongoing Efforts to Shrink Water and Waste Footprint
We not only develop sustainable investment strategies and innovative products aligned with our clients' environmental priorities but also actively tackle climate-related risks. Our focus extends to identifying investment opportunities in the transition to a more eco-friendly world while integrating sustainability principles into our overall business operations.
Central to our commitment is the core sustainability principle: meeting present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own. This commitment is reflected in our business practices, where we incorporate environmental considerations into company-wide processes, continually enhance our operations, and deliver tangible positive outcomes for the environment.
Our dedication to environmental preservation is rooted in the recognition that the long-term success of our business and clients is intricately tied to the health and well-being of our planet. Therefore, we pledge to safeguard the environment and minimize any adverse environmental impacts resulting from our activities.
Within the Workplace Services function at Northern Trust, we strive to reduce the negative environmental footprint of our supply chain when managing our real estate portfolio, procurement, and facilities services. The majority of our greenhouse gas emissions come from our data centers and facilities primarily located in North America. Since we began tracking our carbon footprint, calculated as the carbon dioxide equivalent of all greenhouse gases produced from our operations, we have refined our data collection processes and methodologies following the GHG Protocol.
In collaboration with building managers, Northern Trust follows environmentally friendly building strategies outlined by the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. More than 12 percent of our buildings have received LEED or Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREAM) certification. Additionally, we utilize tracking programs to monitor and manage our environmental performance and calculate our annual carbon footprint.

Recognizing that the impacts of climate extend beyond our supply chains and infrastructure, we have pledged to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, utilizing our 2019 baseline. As of December 31, 2022, we have successfully reduced emissions from our business operations by over 5 percent and lowered energy consumption by more than 30 percent.

Our collaboration with Climate Vault in 2022 focused on a two-step approach to carbon emission reduction. Climate Vault procures and "vaults" carbon emission allowances from government-regulated compliance markets, preventing them from entering the market and contributing to carbon dioxide emissions. The value of these allowances is then used to support an equivalent or greater amount of carbon removals from new carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technologies through a bi-annual grant process. Further details on our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are available in our Statement of GHG Emissions.
Additionally, we are expanding the scope of our emissions reporting to encompass additional categories, including water and waste emissions data.
Water and Waste
Our data collection on water consumption and waste in our buildings began in 2020. In 2022, 27 percent of our portfolio buildings provided water-use data, representing nearly 48 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtonCO2e)/year. This corresponds to a total water usage of 59,987 kGal or 2,528 gallons per partner.
In our Limerick office, measures have been implemented to decrease water usage, including flush timers to minimize water volume used for flushing, spring-loaded taps/faucets for automatic shut-off, and the collection of rainwater in barrels for grounds maintenance. Similarly, in Luxembourg, rainwater collectors are employed to reduce water consumption and associated costs.
In 2022, waste amounting to 6,056 MtonCO2e was recorded, equivalent to 14,580,765 kg of waste or an average of 614 kg per partner. Of the total waste, 7 percent was recycled, while 93 percent was categorized as trash. Thirty-one sites at Northern Trust, constituting 29 percent of total sites, reported actual waste data—an increase of 4 percent from 2021.
In India, all office sites have transitioned to centralized dustbins for waste disposal, resulting in an approximately 80 percent reduction in the use of plastic garbage liners. Styrofoam items have been replaced with arecanut plates and cups, while wooden, single-use cutlery has been adopted as a sustainable alternative to plastic. In both Limerick and London, the switch from paper cups to reusable travel mugs for partners has been implemented. Similarly, Dublin has replaced paper cups with porcelain mugs.

Throughout the year 2022, comprehensive initiatives have been implemented across our entire portfolio to minimize the use of single-use plastic, resulting in a reduction of more than 50 percent when compared to our benchmark. In our three Chicago offices, there has been a transition from plastic utensils and straws to compostable alternatives. Furthermore, a trial is currently underway to assess the viability of using plastic-free bin liners in specific areas, and travel mugs have been distributed to partners in our Chicago buildings to reduce reliance on single-use cups.
As part of our commitment to diminishing our water and waste footprint, we are actively collaborating with facilities teams across our portfolio to increase the number of locations providing data for our carbon emissions report.