Greening the island
“Island communities are often pioneers for sustainability. Perhaps it’s the fact that we are so closely connected to the ocean that surrounds us, or our compelling sense of community.” We speak to Jersey Post about their road to carbon neutrality and playing a part in Jersey’s sustainable future.
This article is taken from the Summer 2022 edition of Mail & Express Review.
Jersey Posts’ sustainability journey began back in 2016 when they started to electrify their 120-strong vehicle fleet, by introducing 15 Nissan e-NV200 electric vehicles – each van reducing their carbon emissions by 95%. Jersey Post was one of the first large businesses in Jersey to make this commitment, earning them the Green Fleet Award for the Private Sector Fleet of the Year in 2016.
David McGrath, Group Marketing Director at Jersey Post comments: “As a postal business we have the ongoing challenge of delivering approximately 90,000 items daily, which equates to our vans travelling approximately 675,000 miles per annum. We understand the role we play in protecting our Island and its people and ultimately, we aim to keep our carbon emissions as low as possible.”
Jersey Post’s investment in zero and low-emission vehicles is an ongoing programme. Today Jersey Post’s fleet is 70% electric and boasts 75 electric vans, 34 electric bikes and 27 bicycles. In 2020, at the height of the pandemic, Jersey Post delivered three million parcels by electric fleet. “The rest of our vehicles only now use Biofuel, which is scientifically proven to be a carbon reducer, helping Jersey Post towards its overall goal to be carbon neutral on-island by 2030,” David comments.
Over the last year Jersey Post has continued to look at replacement technology, including the adoption of electric bikes to complete mail rounds and the company has also switched to energy efficient LED lighting across their premises.
Getting the facts
Having the right data at your fingertips is crucial for achieving carbon footprint reductions. With this in mind, in 2021, Jersey Post employed the services of Sheena Brockie, a local business consultant, to audit the Post’s carbon footprint and help initiate the correct environmental strategies for the business.
In Jersey the majority of everything islanders need for day-to-day living is imported. 95% of food is imported, electricity is imported from France and petrol, diesel, oil and gas are also imported. Additionally, although water is processed on the island, there are limited reserves. “We recognise that in order to be more sustainable we need to look at the resources we use, how we use them and follow a rapid decarbonisation away from fossil fuels,” Sheena says.
The carbon audits will enable Jersey Post to measure direct greenhouse gas emissions that are owned and controlled by Jersey Post, as well as indirect greenhouse gas emissions from purchased energy sources. The final phase of the audit records the bigger picture emissions from a variety of scopes, including supply and treatment of water, staff commute, mail travel and materials.
Sheena is an avid environmentalist and shares that Jersey boasts 51 ecological or geological protected sites of special interest, is home to 4 protected coastlines and is expanding its marine protected areas, allowing sustainable fishing in a way that marine biodiversity thrives.
“Protecting and enhancing our island and the special qualities that make it home are major drivers for human actions.” Sheena says. “As an island business, Jersey Post recognises they have a part to play in our sustainable future,” she adds.
David agrees: “We want our customers to know that we, too, care for our island and take responsibility for our part in protecting it, our people and the planet. Our commitment to this vision is what I am most proud of,” he says.
Stakeholders, in the form of employees, board members, management teams, suppliers and customers are all drivers to creating a successful Sustainability Strategy.
David says: “Your people are your greatest asset, and they need to be engaged and drive the initiative with you. Protecting our environment is not a trend, and therefore you must ensure your approach to sustainability lives and breathes throughout your organisation.”
In 2020 Jersey Post set up an in-house Eco Team to play their part in protecting the environment, build an awareness help drive changes. The aim of the team is to help staff to feel empowered to take the necessary actions to effect real change – both within the business and in the home too.
The voluntary team consists of people from across the business with a passion for all things eco. They help to both drive and communicate Jersey Post’s environmental vision and teach others across the business about sustainable development, including ways to help the environment at work through programs, initiatives and educational experiences.
Reka Wilso, Digital Product Development Executive at Jersey Post and part of the Eco team, commented: “Working in technology, it didn’t always seem straightforward getting involved with sustainability initiatives. Still, through my previous work with a wildlife conservation trust, I have learned that we can all do something to protect our world, no matter what our industry or role is. So, when the opportunity arose to join the Eco team at JPG, I didn’t think twice. It is a great honour to be involved, and there is so much the team have achieved. I am excited to the year ahead and support innovation in green technology helping both our island and our world.’’
Breaking bad habits, whether at home, travelling, shopping, or the workplace, is a topic of much discussion at Jersey Post. “We are seeing an increased focus from everyone across the business on the importance of changing our environmental behaviours,” says David. “A sense of pride and passion for what we are achieving and a collective push to reduce our impacts on the natural environment is becoming the norm, and we are proud of that,” he adds.
Within the business Jersey Post have also taken many environmentally conscious steps, including the reduction of printed marketing materials, introducing the use of biodegradable elastic bands, removal of single use plastics from our canteen, and we continue to offer accessible recycling bins and battery recycling facilities.
As part of Jersey Post’s environmental strategies, the Company encourages the wider community to take part in our climate saving initiative to reduce ‘miles travelled’ for missed deliveries. “We offer, and have frequently advertised, our alternative delivery services which help to negate unnecessary travel within Jersey.” In 2021, 50% of Jersey households are recorded as using Jersey Post’s SecureDrop service while the remaining residents frequently used its 24/7 parcel locker service, offering over 500 parcel lockers across six locations. “Each service plays a vital role in taking us closer to our commitment of being carbon neutral on island by 2030,” David adds.
The pandemic has played a big role in encouraging more companies to examine how they are operating. Sheena explains: The two main positives that seem to have come out of living through a pandemic is the sense of community and a re-connection to nature. When we were forced to slow down and take stock, the effect of our actions on our living planet became clear. There was no going back to ‘normal’ – it was time for a new type of normal.”
Throughout 2021, Jersey Post engaged staff in various strategies to become more energy efficient and reduce its reliance on natural resources. Hybrid working was initiated, and this reduced employee miles travelled, the company also eliminated non-essential business travel with a Microsoft Teams call first approach. Jersey Post also continued with its ongoing initiatives including a ‘school bus’ transporting staff to and from work and a cycle to work.
But Jersey Post’s efforts are not limited to the island. David says: “With 40% of our business not even touching Jersey, we are also conscious that we need to look at our carbon neutral plans on a global scale, and as such our target is to be net-zero carbon emissions globally, by 2040. We continually work to optimise transport across the Jersey Post Group, to ensure it is as efficient as possible throughout our global network.”
Jersey Post also hopes to use the Eco Team’s sphere of influence to encourage their customers and suppliers on their own sustainability journey. To start with they want to encourage suppliers to work towards environmental sustainability accreditation. In the longer term, Jersey Post aims to establish a procurement policy that includes sustainability as part of the decision-making process.
And this shift to more sustainable operations is being seen across the sector, driven by environmental targets set by the the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) , UPU and Post Europ. The logistics industry as a whole is now looking towards utilising sustainable fuels across air, ocean and road freight, by adopting clean fuel and looking at technological solutions as the way forward in truly eliminating emissions from transport and logistics businesses.
David says the only way forward is working in collaboration. “We do not want to work alone to achieve our goals and part of the strategy going forward for Jersey Post is to build relationships with other businesses, communities, and individuals, in a way we can utilise technology and innovation to meet our zero-carbon emission target. However, we recognise we have a long way to go.”