Environmental Policy

Environmental Sustainability Strategy and Action Plan 2023/4

Policy agreed by the Trustee Board of Citizens Advice Oxford on: 13th September 2023

Introduction

The 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report warned that the current global target of an 80% cut in carbon emissions by 2050 is not enough to avert catastrophic temperature change. According to the report, it is essential that global temperature change is limited to 1.5 ̊C, and, to ensure this, rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society are required.

Oxford was the first city in the UK to hold a Citizens Assembly on climate change (in 2019), and in February 2021 was one of the first UK City Councils to declare an aspiration to become Net Zero by 2040, ten years earlier than the UK Government’s stated 2050 Net Zero goal.

Citizens Advice Oxford (CAO) is determined to play its part in making Oxford a more environmentally sustainable place for future generations. We are fully committed to reducing both our own environmental impact as well as to integrating education and supporting National Citizens Advice’s campaign through our energy advice projects and research and campaigns work.

Scope

  • This strategy addresses all the relevant aspects of the operation of CAO.
  • It applies to all CAO employees, volunteers, trustees and premises, to services, agency staff, apprentices, students, interns, secondees and contractors funded by our service.

This strategy demonstrates how we will:

  • lead by example to deliver sound environmental outcomes by managing and mitigating, as far as possible, the impact of our activities on the environment;
  • integrate key environmental considerations into our operational and policy decisions so that we can continue to be a responsible recipient of public and charitable funding;
  • work towards reducing our absolute carbon footprint from a baseline in 2019 whilst providing a service that maintains the highest standards of confidentiality through careful disposal of sensitive information.

Wider links

This strategy supports the Government’s key priority areas around the environment.It will also support Oxford City Council’s specific Net Zero targets.

Our aim

“To reduce our impact on the environment at source through prioritising energy efficiency and efficient resource use throughout our operations, reducing travel and waste, and promoting education and awareness of good environmental behaviours amongst our staff”.

Themed objectives to achieve our aim

To achieve this aim, the following themed objectives have been identified for application in our offices, at outreaches and to be encouraged for those who work from home.

Minimising waste/Recycling of materials

  • We will seek to reduce the quantity of supplies and products used.
  • We will ensure the maximum recycling of paper (subject to confidentiality), cardboard, glass, plastic, tins, batteries and printer cartridges. Where specific recycling bins are used, these will be labelled appropriately.

Disposal of waste

  • We encourage the reuse and repair of products, to avoid premature disposal.
  • Redundant IT and other office equipment will be donated to other users or recycled once data has been removed in line with information assurance and confidentiality policies.

Transport

  • Work from home to be actively supported to minimise transport needs and to assist people to work where they live
  • Where possible, and especially for larger groups, meetings will be held by videoconference rather than face to face. Although we understand the need for some regular face-to-face contact for the wellbeing of staff and volunteers.
  • Whenever possible, CAO staff and trustees will use public transport (bus and train) or bicycle.
  • Car sharing will be encouraged whenever possible and car travel will be restricted to essential trips only.
  • All training venues and meeting locations will be easily accessible by public transport.

Use of energy - switch to a renewable energy tariff

  • We will work with our landlords to reduce the amount of energy used within our premises, and aim to influence them to switch to a renewable energy (green) tariff for our electricity supply.
  • Energy efficiency and saving measures in the office include
    • Turning lights, computers, printers and photocopiers off when not in use or at the end of the working day, as relevant
    • Requesting our landlord uses energy and water saving measures eg LED light bulbs where our premises allow it
    • Printing only when necessary.

Use of water

  • Staff to report water leaks and dripping taps immediately.
  • Staff and volunteers to employ water saving measures eg to limit the use of water when washing up - to use the dishwasher or sink in the most appropriate way to save water and energy

Suppliers and purchasing

  • We will reuse existing products and buy second hand or refurbished products where practical and cost effective.
  • When selecting financial products including pension schemes, the ethical/sustainability practices of the companies shortlisted will be considered
  • We aim to work with suppliers who adhere to sound ethical practices and have a clear Environmental Policy in place, including the use of products that are produced in an environmentally sustainable manner, and are repairable, non-toxic, reusable or recyclable.

Awareness and education

  • As we know that if our team are well informed they are more likely to assist in reducing our overall environmental impact, we will train all staff and volunteers on their roles and responsibilities in delivering on the above objectives, and maximising the impact of these.
  • We will aim to keep up to date with the latest in best environmental practice in the workplace, and seek to update and introduce any new policies that become relevant.

Delivering the strategy

The strategy will be overseen by our Citizens Advice Oxford Sustainability Sub Group, who will provide the overall CAO strategic direction. The group is led by Sophie Brooks, a trustee who is also a professional Sustainability Consultant.

Christine O’Hare, CAO Chief Officer will be accountable for ensuring that the strategy is delivered.

The action plan

The themed objectives will be delivered through an annual action plan. Holly Probert, our Office Manager, will be responsible for overseeing the day-to-day delivery of this action plan.

Action plan outcomes

Each set of actions relating to the themed action plan will have a baseline, with outcome measures and targets to monitor progress. These will be compared to a baseline position which is also outlined in the action plan.

Review

The strategy and action plan will be reviewed by the CAO Sustainability Sub Group on an annual basis.

 

1 Further information can be found at http://ww2.defra.gov.uk/environment/economy/

 

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