Yorkshire Water uses environmental profit & loss

21st May 2014

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  • Water ,
  • Ecosystems ,
  • Biodiversity ,
  • Natural resources ,
  • Supply chain


Jessica Rick

Yorkshire Water has developed an environmental profit and loss (EP&L) account to ensure sustainability is embedded into its "core business strategy"

The utility firm is the first UK water company to adopt the EP&L approach pioneered in 2011 by PUMA. EP&L places a financial value on all of an organisation’s environmental impacts, both negative and positive.

Yorkshire Water’s EP&L account not only monetises the firm’s water abstraction and sewerage activities, but also its impacts in terms of greenhouse-gas emissions, land use and waste disposal, and its supply chain.

The EP&L, which was created by data firm Trucost, has also given Yorkshire Water a better understanding of the local impacts of its abstraction activities, as it applies different valuations depending on water scarcity in the region.

Yorkshire Water says the EP&L is being used to inform its 25-year corporate strategy and has helped in the company’s discussions with regulators Ofwat and the Environment Agency over water resources, and how to ensure future supplies while also protecting the environment.

“The EP&L provides a fast view of our environmental impacts that can be easily understood by everyone, from suppliers, customers and regulators to our own board members and business managers,” says Simon Barnes, programme director at Yorkshire Water. “It highlights risks and opportunities that drive our long-term business strategy, and is key to the delivery of our strategic business objectives.”

Barnes argues that the EP&L approach is really helpful for the private sector in ensuring natural capital is considered alongside traditional businesses concerns.

“I am fundamentally of the belief that business has the main role in making a difference on sustainability. The EP&L provides a powerful tool to help us embed sustainability into our core business strategy,” he comments.

In April, Yorkshire Water was ranked sixth out of England’s 21 water companies for its long-term approach to sustainability issues.

The assessment by a coalition of environment charities, including WWF-UK, RSPB and Waterwise, examined water companies’ proposed business plans for 2015–20 in terms of how they considered 10 environment issues, including reducing abstraction from sensitive areas and considering demand reduction measures.

Yorkshire Water was found to have plans that would result in “good progress” in eight of the 10 measures, while overall, just 57% of the companies had similarly ambitious plans to cut the number of damaging abstraction licences they hold and only one-third had plans to ensure less water is taken from vulnerable environments.

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