Not long out of university and a year into my role at Bioregional, I felt privileged to be given such an integral role in producing B&Q’s One Planet Home Action Plan in 2007. Ten years later, the One Planet Home programme has seen incredible achievements, including a 41% reduction in its total carbon footprint.

Ten years of One Planet Living - B&Q One Planet Annual Review 2016/17

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Since 2007, leading UK home improvement retailer B&Q has been using One Planet Living to accelerate its move towards sustainability. Its Annual Review 2016/17 celebrates this decade of commitment

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A saving of 762,546 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions through a 41% reduction in B&Q’s absolute carbon footprint

Reducing costs by £164m through better energy, transport and waste management

99% diversion of waste from landfill

As an environmentalist who wants to bring sustainability into the mainstream, I was excited to get started in 2007 by helping Bioregional use its One Planet Living framework with a business for the first time. Rachel Bradley, the Sustainability Manager, was my window into the world of B&Q and together we improved our understanding of the key sustainability issues for their business.

This enabled us to set stretching targets, based on climate science, resource scarcity and best practice standards. We’ve worked in partnership since to deliver progress, with several key ingredients emerging for turning our aspirations into an award-winning programme:

Creating a culture of sustainability in everyday (working) life

Several years ago, I made a list of the people I had worked with at B&Q – it was over 60 individuals from the director of logistics to the head office facilities manager and store colleagues. It was vital to understand their strategies, objectives and day-to-day roles and how we integrate sustainability into these. For example, when the facilities manager renegotiated the food contract for head office, she included a preference for free range eggs, more vegetarian options and fairly traded tea and coffee.

Credible research and analysis

Bioregional is fondly referred to by our partners as ‘the people you go to for answers to the difficult questions’. And I’ve certainly been asked some challenging questions over the years. It’s important to me and my team that we provide the best information we can to our partners to help inform their decisions and ensure we are focusing on the right things. I’m proud of the research we’ve done over the years, from assessing the embodied carbon of a B&Q store to understanding the water use of over 350 stores to establish best practice.

Getting your hands dirty

Often I find myself desk based or in meetings but I’ve learnt how important it is to also make time to get out into ‘the real world’. I’ve looked in skips to see what waste was still going to landfill, toured old and new stores to audit energy use and quizzed suppliers about challenges and opportunities. Credible research and analysis is important, but you also need real-life understanding to devise the best solutions.

For example, going to stores to see where treated wood waste was arising, helped B&Q work with suppliers on take back of certain packaging items and develop a returnable pallets scheme.

I’m immensely proud of our achievements over the past ten years and look forward to the next chapter.

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