At Auto Trader, climate change is treated as a Board-level governance issue. Our newly formed Corporate Responsibility Committee evidences our commitment to drive improvements in our environmental and wider sustainability performance and ensure as a business we are making real progress with our environmental commitments.
Our environmental commitments can be split into two main components:
1. Net zero carbon emissions
We are at the start of our carbon net zero journey but we are committed to making progress. We recognise the seriousness of the climate crisis and we have signed up to the UN’s “Climate Neutral Now” initiative and also the Science Based Targets initiative (‘SBTi’), committing to set ambitious emission reduction targets. To help us accurately assess and develop strategies to reach carbon net zero, we have undertaken further work to evaluate our emissions more comprehensively and we will use the outcome of this work to inform our goal to set a net zero target with clear interim targets to measure our progress.
Total CO2 emissions1
|Total (Scope 1 & 2)||311||336||587||665|
|Total (Scopes 1, 2 & 3)||6,763||10,094|
1. Scopes 1 and 2 are reported in tonnes of CO2 equivalent.
2. Absolute carbon emissions divided by revenue in millions.
We have a well-established Sustainability Network comprised of passionate employees with a goal of making life at AutoTrader more sustainable. The Network is sponsored by our Commercial Director, Ian Plummer. The Network meets monthly and since its creation has built a wider network of over 200 people who all now share and implement sustainability ideas. They aim to increase awareness and encourage positive changes for individuals, as well as in our offices, in a bid to reduce our overall environmental impact. Since the group started, they have made positive changes such as: getting rid of single use plastic takeaway boxes in the Manchester canteen; producing branded reusable water and coffee cups for staff to reduce single use plastic cups; starting a plastic recycling bag system to reduce people getting bags when they buy their lunch; and introducing more environmentally friendly menu options in the canteen and for catered lunches for meetings, i.e. cooking with ingredients that have lower food miles, less meat, and more vegan options. We also use Fruitful Office to deliver fruit to our offices each week. The company plants one tree in Malawi for every order of fruit they receive. The trees help the organisation to mitigate the effects of global warming and deforestation, providing incomes to local communities.
We embarked on our carbon literacy training early in 2019. The training is structured to scale our impact from global to individual. One of the most effective parts of the course is making the connections between individuals and the impact of climate change. By the end of the training our Carbon Heroes (what we like to call our carbon literate colleagues) commit to a group commitment focused on making climate positive changes within our business. They also make personal commitments. These have ranged from changing energy suppliers, to commuting differently and reducing unnecessary travel. The groups have been working on meat free Mondays in our canteen, raising carbon footprint awareness and looking at our business travel policy. We have also planted a tree in the UK for every person who has completed the carbon literacy training.
18% of our business has now been through the training as at 31 March 2021. We also have a group of accredited Carbon Heroes who will become our next generation of facilitators to ensure that more of our business can experience the training. We want to reach every person in our business so it is vital we continue at pace to run sessions and aim to train 50% of our employees over the next financial year. As well as training our employees, we also plan to support Cooler Projects to create a carbon literacy toolkit with members of the automotive retail industry. The toolkit will be made available to all retailers and the charity will also offer training to accredit trainers from different retailer businesses.
As an operator of an online marketplace, we have a relatively small carbon footprint. Our offices in London and Manchester are both highly graded by the BREEAM standard, which sets best practice standards for the environmental performance of buildings through design, specification, construction and operation. Our London office has an ‘outstanding’ rating, and our Manchester office an ‘excellent’ rating. All our offices (with the exception of one subsidiary office) use greener energy suppliers and as our employees return to the office, we will reinstate our operational initiatives to reduce our emissions: we have invested in video conferencing equipment in our London and Manchester offices, installing clickshare and polystudio in our offices to facilitate enhanced virtual meetings and collaborative online working; the use of passive infrared sensor lighting in the London office which is activated by movement; and switching off electrical items while the office is closed. As a technology business, one of our main components of waste generated in operations is the disposal of technology equipment such as laptops. We are now working with local programmes to repurpose laptops. We have greatly reduced the use of paper in our offices by reducing the number of printers and removing waste bins by desks. Where possible, we have replaced paper-based communications with online digital alternatives, including marketing reports and communications to employees, customers and shareholders. 95% of our invoices are delivered via e-billing and nearly all of our supplier invoices are received by email. We operate recycling systems in the offices established with local authorities and recycling schemes to encourage less waste.
Health and safety
We are committed to maintaining a safe workplace for our employees, customers and visitors and anyone affected by our business’s activities. It is therefore our policy that all of the Group’s facilities, products and services comply with applicable laws and regulations governing safety and quality. During the financial year 2021, there were no major injuries reported under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations.
2. Supporting car buyers
Our success comes from a breadth of expertise and we want to combine that with our voice to influence the automotive industry to support urgent action to tackle the climate crisis. We can also use our data and partnerships to upskill our customers on alternatively fuelled vehicles (‘AFVs’) and help consumers make more informed choices to improve outcomes for the environment.
Promoting the advancement of new technologies and cleaner, more efficient fuel types is an important issue for us. That’s why we actively support the industry’s efforts to increase the consumer adoption of AFVs. We regularly meet with various Government departments, including HM Treasury and the Department for Transport’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles, to share our data and insights to help guide policy around the topic; we also support the industry trade bodies with their initiatives.
On our marketplace, we have taken steps to make it easier for car buyers to search for AFVs by improving search filters to include battery range, charge time and quick charge time which also appears on full page adverts. We have also introduced a new electric vehicle hub and regularly publish articles and videos on electric vehicles. Through our acquisition of KeeResources we now have data tools that enable manufacturers to promote their electric vehicles as a viable alternative to petrol and diesel engined cars by highlighting the total cost of ownership.
We are working with academic institutions to develop our understanding around electrification. Over the coming months we will support retailers through EV training and detailed pricing EV data as well as increasing our data sharing with Government and industry bodies to help ensure public policy is based on the latest insight.