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Sustainability and Climate Change

Trusted to serve Scotland in a changing climate

Our purpose is to support the protection of public health and the environment through providing high quality affordable drinking water and safely managing society’s waste water. We do this whilst ensuring our services are affordable and support Scotland’s economy.

Water and waste water services are vital to a sustainable society. Our challenge is to find ways to be increasingly sustainable in how we deliver those services.

Our Sustainability Reports, published on this page, show examples of some of our achievements in supporting a sustainable Scotland. They also contain our annual Carbon Footprint Reports.

 2016 Sustainability Report

We are delighted to share highlights from our 2016 Sustainability Report:

  • Our carbon footprint has reduced, supported by the decarbonisation of the electricity grid.
  • Working in partnership to develop sustainable solutions for Scotland starts to target renewable heat and waste oil opportunities.
  • Development Centres are up and running, allowing the safe testing of new or innovative technologies that will support sustainable services in future.

Our Sustainability Report for 2016  has the theme ‘Circular Economy’. A circular economy is an alternative to a traditional linear economy (make – use – dispose) in which products and materials are kept in a high value state of use for as long as possible, then recovered and regenerated at the end of each service life (make – use – repair – re-use – recycle).

Examples of circular thinking that we describe in our report include:

  • The heat from wastewater scheme recently installed at Borders College in Galashiels
  • A waste oil recycling scheme being run in partnership with Sainsbury’s
  • Use of treated sewage sludge in land reclamation or as a soil improver for agricultural land
  • Anaerobic digestion of food waste to generate renewable electricity

The report also provides details of our annual carbon footprint.

Carbon Footprint

We monitor and report our annual operational carbon footprint to help us understand how our emissions of greenhouse gases are accounted for by the different processes and activities within the business. Knowing our carbon footprint allows us to efficiently manage these emissions and to benchmark ourselves against the UK water industry as a whole.
After rising in 2014/15 due to an increase in the carbon intensity of grid electricity, our annual carbon footprint fell by 14,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) to 390,000 tCO2e, a reduction of 3.5%. A reduction in grid carbon intensity was one of the main reasons behind this fall.


Since we began monitoring and reporting our carbon footprint in 2006/07, our annual emissions have fallen by almost 16%.


The graph below shows the reduction in our footprint since 2006/07. It is notable that this long term downward trend has been achieved alongside continued investment to deliver higher service levels, meet growth in demand and improve statutory compliance.

Annual operational carbon footprints 2006/07 to 2015/16


Further details of our 201516 carbon footprint can be found in our Sustainability Report 2016 (pdf).

Scottish Water is committed to managing emissions and to ensuring all parts of our business consider carbon and wider sustainability within decisions and actions. To this end we are currently developing our updated Carbon Management Plan to encourage and track actions that each area of Scottish Water can undertake to help mitigate our emissions.  Our Carbon Management Plan is due to be published during early 2017; in the meantime our Carbon Plan 2010 is available.

Read our Q and A for our approach to carbon.

If you have any further questions or comments, please Contact Us.

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