Paper, water and waste

In the second phase of our Greenhouse Neutral Programme, we expanded the scope of our emissions accounting to include copy paper use, water consumption and waste disposal, and are committed to offsetting these emissions.

The overview of all our emissions sources (see table in “CO2 emissions and underlying environmental data”) shows that paper, water and waste are of much less significance in our business than other environmental impacts. Furthermore, it is difficult for us to influence water use and waste generation at locations where we rent office space. However, in the office buildings we own we ensure appliances meet high standards of water efficiency.

Paper use, on the other hand, is much more responsive to managerial action. Although we have not set any quantitative targets, we have taken a number of measures to reduce the average amount of paper used by our employees in recent years. Through our Group Document Induction Process, employees can use a coordinated scanning service wherever they need it, and double-sided printing is set as the default option on our computers. Furthermore, by using a “gamification” approach in 2014, we encouraged our employees to compete as teams against each other to see who could achieve the biggest cut in paper consumption. In total, we managed to reduce our paper use by 11.5% per employee since 2014, and by 32.4% since 2013.

Concerning the ecological quality of the paper we use, our Group Sourcing Policy and our “minimum standard for copy paper” make clear demands: All our locations are required to give priority to recycled and/or FSC-labelled paper and to avoid paper made from virgin fibres (see “Sustainable construction and Swiss Re Next”). In 2015, the share of recycled paper fell slightly from 70% to 68%, while that of FSC-labelled paper increased from 94% to 97%.

Waste generation decreased by 16.1% per employee in 2015, while water consumption remained stable. It needs to be stressed, though, that data quality is moderate at best for both categories.