UK & Ireland waste and recycling

Our approach to waste management

We manage all waste from our buildings according to the recognised principles of the ‘waste hierarchy’, with our first priority being to use products, processes and services that eliminate waste. We then look to minimise the waste we generate, recycling and reusing materials wherever possible. Our aim is to use waste disposal methods with the lowest environmental impact wherever possible.

We’re constantly seeking ways to improve performance by reviewing our processes, and work closely with our service partners to find more sustainable solutions for our waste streams.

Since 2014 our UK operations have been certified to the Carbon Trust Standard for Waste, providing independent verification of our actions to measure, manage and reduce waste output, year on year.

Some of the measures we are using to manage our waste streams include:

  • A UK-wide plastics reduction strategy to ensure we minimise single-use plastics in our workplaces across all office functions
  • Replacing all disposable cups on our working floors with reusable cups and bottles for all on-site employees
  • Providing an environmental gift pack to all new employees to help them reduce their consumption of disposable cups and plastic bags when working in our offices
  • Using biodegradable catering consumables (eg, cutlery, food packaging) in all our in-house restaurants, coffee shops and deli bars
  • Disposing of food waste from our London, Birmingham and Liverpool offices via anaerobic digestion to generate biofuels and fertilisers
  • Turning used cooking oil from our London restaurants into biodiesel
  • Sending used coffee grounds for processing into biofuels and bio-chemicals
  • Donating unsold food items from our London coffee bars to charities for the homeless and vulnerably housed
  • Implementing a ‘green tariff’ pricing structure at our on-site coffee shops – people buying a hot drink in a disposable cup pay a premium, a proportion of which is donated to charity
  • Employing ‘follow-me’ on-demand printing to reduce paper and toner consumption and cut waste from unclaimed documents
  • Having bin-less desks, providing on-floor recycling stations and employing a best practice waste segregation scheme in consultation with industry experts
  • Defaulting our printers to double-sided black and white print, reducing toner and paper use
  • Using on-site filtered water bottling facilities and reusable glass bottles for hospitality services in our London, Luton and Birmingham offices
  • Sourcing stationery items made with sustainable, biodegradable or recycled content wherever possible
  • Providing online statements for staff with a corporate credit card to decrease printing and paper consumption
  • Requiring all staff to log photocopy and printer usage via an individual user-account system
  • Working with contractors to minimise waste from construction and refurbishment projects, maximising reuse and recycling of materials and items from office fit-outs
  • Running an environmental communications programme to raise awareness of the importance of minimising waste and maximising recycling.

Download our UK & Ireland Environmental Sustainability Overview FY2018 (PDF, 749K).

Performance against our FY2018 targets

By FY2020 reduce waste generated per head by 10% (compared to base year FY15): In FY2018 waste generated per FTE fell 28% compared to the base year (FY2015). We saw the benefits of a slow-down in the clearance of our archives as this project matured and the switch to ‘follow-me’ printing from on-floor devices, both of which led to a significant reduction in confidential and paper waste. We expect to see further decreases in our absolute and relative waste metrics during FY2019 as the effects of our plastics reduction strategy are felt.

Continue to monitor waste to ensure zero to landfill (in offices where EY controls the building services and local waste recycling facilities exist): In FY2018 our calculated waste recycling ratio was 92.9%. The firm continued to develop initiatives to ensure waste was diverted from landfill and moved up the waste hierarchy, including the expansion of our coffee grounds recycling scheme and the introduction of disposable cup recycling in our 25CP site, in addition to working with landlords.

Waste data

View our comprehensive waste data table (PDF, 15K).

Please also refer to information on our emissions and our approach to environmental data measurement and reporting.