Endesa has just launched the ‘Plásticos ZERO’ initiative, focused on reducing the company's plastic consumption as far as possible within the next five years. This initiative, which is part of Endesa’s Sustainability Plan, begins by reducing plastic by 28% in 2019, with the aim being to achieve a 75% reduction by 2023. This initiative also raises awareness about better use of resources, will encourage employees to reuse and recycle, and will prevent 15 tonnes of plastic waste and 57 tonnes of CO2 emissions, which is equivalent to the emissions of 28 internal-combustion cars over the course of a year.
It is a participative project born of the initiative of a group of employees, who, concerned with stemming the plastic tide, suggested that the company introduce concrete measures to reduce plastic consumption at its work centres. As the result of this suggestion, the decision was made to enact an effective plan based on reducing plastic waste, not only in workplaces but across the whole company, in line with Endesa's support of the Circular Economy.
Endesa’s offices are implementing the first stages of this plan, focusing on eliminating single-use plastics – that is, plastic items which are designed to be disposable. One of the most positive actions, in this sense, has been to remove all plastic bottles from vending machines, replacing them with mixed cardboard cartons, eliminating over 400,000 plastic bottles per year across all of Endesa’s workspaces and offices. Each carton represents a 40% reduction in environmental impact, as compared to a traditional plastic bottle.
In addition, every employee has been given a glass water bottle, with the intention being that they should reuse it every day, thus helping to drive down plastic waste still further. By substituting non-recyclable plastic bottles with reusable glass bottles, we save 10 kg of CO2 per employee per year. For Endesa’s head office in Madrid, this equates to a total of 25.3 tonnes a year.
Other actions which are currently gearing up include the elimination of all plastic cups and stirrers from the coffee machines, replacing them with alternatives made from compostable materials. This strategy will prevent the waste of over a million plastic cups every year. In addition, staff will be able to use their own cups at the coffee machines. Many cups will be substituted with others that are less harmful to the environment. For example, in buildings which have a catering service, all disposable cups, cutlery and crockery are to be replaced by compostable takeaway versions, and all employees will be given reusable tupperware-style containers, which can be used at least 20 times.
The first measures to be adopted will reshape Endesa's internal practices, as 58% of plastic waste from our offices comes from plastic generated in catering and vending machines, but ‘Plásticos Zero’ will be rolled out to all areas of the company by 2023, meaning Endesa's customers will also benefit, and a substantial environmental improvement will be made.
Commitments under the UN Global Compact
All the measures mentioned above underline Endesa's commitment to sustainable activity. Endesa has fully embraced the main international frameworks of reference promulgated by the United Nations in regard to sustainability, as we should do as a key operator in building a new and sustainable global energy model. Thus, we remain firmly committed to the Ten Principles of the Global Compact, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Endesa’s ‘Plásticos Zero’ plan is in line with these objectives: specifically, reducing plastic packaging in accordance with SDG 12: ‘Responsible Consumption and Production’, as its objective is to do more and better things with fewer resources.
In this sense, Endesa's initiatives are ahead of the regulation passed by the European Parliament banning single-use plastic from 2021. According to EU calculations, such plastics account for almost 70% of plastic waste polluting waters and beaches in the region, and the aim of the measures taken is to eradicate the use of plastic items, replacing them with alternatives, which already exist, that do not damage the environment.
In line with this regulation, Endesa’s intention is for the measures linked to the ‘Plásticos Zero’ initiative to also inspire a cultural shift amongst its employees in relation to the use of plastics, so they continue reducing their plastic use even outside the workplace, and could lead to a “significant” reduction in the polluting impact of plastics on the environment.