As one of the UK's leading full-service City law firms, Travers Smith recognises that it has a responsibility to protect the environment; a responsibility we are proud of and take seriously.
Back in 2003, after conducting a detailed assessment of the Firm's environmental impact, we became one of the first law firms in the UK to introduce an environmental management system (EMS). We have continued to develop and expand our Energy Management System (EMS).
Our Environment Committee has representation from facilities management, the partnership, associates, trainees and wider business teams. Our Sustainability and Health & Safety officer is responsible for the management and implementation of our EMS and provides regular reports to both the Environment Committee and Environmental Board. Both the Committee and Board are jointly responsible for setting strategic environmental goals and targets.
The key objective is to accelerate progress in the climate transition by inspiring ambition for change and supporting ways to achieve this.
This is achieved through a range of measures designed to minimise Travers Smith's environmental impact, including reducing our carbon footprint and meeting the environmental policy objectives outlined below.
Environmental Policy overview
At Travers Smith we have adopted a holistic approach to promoting waste recycling and energy reduction; our two main areas of environmental impact.
To achieve this we aim to:
- minimise our energy consumption
- review other indirect emissions which occur at sources not owned or controlled by Travers Smith by working with our suppliers
- utilise recycling options by splitting our waste at source into nine different waste streams
- source recycled and sustainable products where possible and discuss environmental considerations with our suppliers more generally
- promote awareness of environmental best practice among our employees and clients through communications and events
- regularly review our EMS
- communicate our environmental aims both internally and externally and collaborate more with wider environmental initiatives
- encourage and motivate our staff to be involved in new initiatives
- set achievable objectives to minimise the Firm's environmental impact and measure the Firm's progress against these objectives
- review and update this environmental policy statement at regular intervals.
We are constantly working with both our recycling and cleaning company to look at ways to continually improve and maximise the environmental value of recycling.
By working with companies that choose the best recycling plants we are able to turn paper, plastics and metals into high quality products.
This creates a circular economy where waste is used in place of raw materials to make products, we all use, we are reducing the environmental impact of our waste and helping to fight against climate change.
An example of this is our wastepaper recycling programme. All our wastepaper is sent to a facility for shredding and then the waste product is despatched to a Paper Mill at which point it is turned into toilet paper. These are the toilets rolls we use throughout our premises.
All our waste is split into nine different streams at the point of disposal. With more emphasis on splitting streams we are one of the first organisations to exceed the required six categories for separation of waste (due to become UK Law in early 2023). In 2018, the Firm introduced new recycling bins in our staff restaurant and every kitchen, as well as additional recycling stations on all floors, allowing staff to split rubbish into general waste, plastic, cans and cardboard, compostable containers and take-away cups, food and glass.
The coffee grouts are collected from the Hospitality pantries, Kitchen and the barista station in our café, Braithwaite's, and made into Biofuel.
In January 2020 Braithwaite's removed all single-use plastic and replaced it with reusable alternatives. In addition, staff are also now entitled to a discount on purchases of hot drinks if they bring in their own re-usable cup/mug.
Due to COVID-19 related disruptions this year, our offices have remained partially closed for a large part of 2020 and 2021. This has resulted in some temporary changes to the way Braithwaite's work, which included the introduction of a new compostable line of take-away containers, cups and packaging allowing us to meet Government's guidelines. This position will be re-visited later in 2021 in order to ensure that we continue to make the best decisions, both in the interest of staff safety as well as in order to protect the environment.
Here are a few helpful steps we would recommend members of staff should follow to reduce waste and stop cross contamination:
- use your own or the Firm's ceramic/re-usable coffee cups, plates or cutlery wherever possible
- all disposable coffee cups (purchased from outside Travers Smith) should go into the newly introduced compostable waste bin
- use waste bins provided and split waste accordingly
- rinse out any containers before placing in the recycling bins
- if food packaging cannot be cleaned/rinsed then place in general waste
- depleted batteries should be disposed of using the recycling bins situated in Braithwaite's and General Office
- speak to the Facilities team to arrange the recycling of clothing items or electrical equipment
- please use the newly introduced blue bins for the recycling of glass bottles.
We are fully committed to achieving 'nil to landfill', and therefore are also recycling confidential waste, batteries, toner and cartridges, fluorescent tubes, other electrical waste.
Travers Smith was awarded a Recycling Gold Standard Award in 2017 by waste management company First Mile. Out of 20,000 commercial customers in London, the Firm finished in third place with 98 per cent of our waste being recycled. The circular economy national recycling target is 44% due to rise to 65% in 2035 so this highlights what a great achievement this was.
All the Firm's general waste is sent to the Belvedere Incinerator, which converts the waste into clean energy to power up to 100,000 homes every year. The leftover ash is turned into products to be used to build roads all over the UK.
Chemical Free Daily Clean
Our Facilities team have been working with our cleaning contractor to develop a chemical free daily cleaning regime. By removing the need to use chemicals, artificial fragrance molecules and preservatives we are removing the negative impact chemicals have on the environment and our staff.
The cleaning programme meets WELL buildings criteria for improving health and wellbeing as it does not affect people's endocrinological and nervous system balance and is currently the most environmentally aware process.
We are committed to reducing our paper consumption and have introduced a number of initiatives such as 'follow-me-print' to help achieve this goal, which requires staff to re-confirm they want an item printed after it is sent to one of our floors' multi-function printers.
To help reduce our paper consumption Print Services have made double sided printing the automatic default setting for all printing.
In addition, over the course of 2020 we have seen a reduction in paper printing across the Firm, which is largely attributable to the COVID-19 lockdown and changing work habits. This has also translated to a reduction in paper usage for the majority of our staff working from home, which we hope will drive further change in paper usage upon a wider return to the office.
All our paper is Forest Stewardship Council certified giving us the confidence that we at Travers Smith are helping our forests survive for generations to come.
Our built environment and energy consumption
We recognise that our built environment (i.e. our offices and facilities) affects our carbon footprint in a significant way.
With this in mind, during the refurbishment of our London offices, real consideration was given to the most energy efficient building management systems and products that we could implement. This includes dedicated technology that manages air (sampling system), water, heating, air-conditioning and our electrical system.
We will be issuing a quarterly report on the effects of the following activities on our carbon footprint: energy usage; waste and recycling; stationery; and business travel. This report will allow us to develop targets and actions to support our continued approach to carbon reduction within the business and its practices.
Our office is supported by a number of other environmentally friendly products and processes such as:
- LED luminaires and a light control system with motion sensors
- energy efficient heating and cooling systems with energy efficient fans
- air volume monitoring to reduce consumption
- improved insulation to existing structure, façade and ceiling voids.
We use a third party to procure green energy contracts. Energy monitoring reports and market watch reports are produced on a regular basis and are reviewed by the Travers Smith Facilities team.
As part of our energy efficiency drive, Travers Smith is committed to meeting the requirements of ISO 50001 – an internationally recognised accreditation that requires the use of an energy management system with a main purpose of using energy more efficiently. The standard is based on a management model of continual improvement, requiring the development and updating of an energy policy, establishing goals to meet the policy, utilising data to meet such goals and measuring policy effectiveness.
We are in the process of setting the strategic objective within the ISO 50001 for 2021. The implementation of the ISO strategy will continue throughout 2021. An external audit is planned midway in 2021. A successful audit will result in us receiving our accreditation.
Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) is the UK Governments name of the replacement legislation to a number of existing programmes covering energy and carbon reporting. We have made our submission on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions under Scopes 1 and 2 in line with SECR requirements'. Reporting on Scope 1 and 2 are mandatory and covers direct greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from premises' energy consumption, purchasing utilities and direct business travel.
Given our longer-term ambitions to expand on our annual GHG reporting we are developing a plan that considers Scope 3, which covers in-direct emissions. This will allow us to assess the magnitude of greenhouse gas emissions sources that are associated with the activities of the business, but not directly generated by the business or the energy it uses. This will also provide a comprehensive carbon footprint that can act as a baseline for a Net Zero Strategy.
Whilst, physically speaking, Travers Smith has a limited international footprint, our business and clients are global. Given this reality, the partners and other members of staff are required to take short and long-haul flights from time to time.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, we already looked to limit unnecessary international trips. We will be considering over the coming year ways to further reduce our impact in this regard as and when business travel begins to be safe again. This includes continuing to encourage virtual meetings as well as rail travel (where appropriate and safe to do so), and the possible introduction of carbon offsetting.
Travers Smith Kitchen and Braithwaite's
Our commitment to sustainability is bolstered by the Travers Smith Kitchen and Braithwaite's, the staff café, which came in-house in September 2020. The Kitchen currently holds a 2* rating (out of 3*) from the Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) due to its commitment to using local and seasonal produce, serving more vegetables, less and better quality meat, responsibly sourced fish and supporting global farmers as well as the local community. The last SRA rating was in 2019 but due to COVID-19 pandemic, the next rating assessment has been postponed until mid-year 2021. The Kitchen team, supported by Paul Mullis, are in a strong position to gain 3*.
As part of taking Braithwaite's in-house the focus has been on 'Re-opening Right'. As part of this, there has been an extensive procurement process with QNine, looking at all food suppliers and their sustainability credentials. Supply and delivery can be co-ordinated with the Kitchen, reducing the carbon footprint of deliveries. The team works closely with Facilities to ensure practices are as sustainable as possible. We now use eco-friendly cleaning products and water saving devices have been introduced. We are also actively reviewing other ways to reduce our impact, including energy usage.
Natural resources are valued. The Kitchen and Braithwaite's are careful to avoid food waste and to reduce, reuse and recycle whenever possible. Examples include using beeswax wrappers instead of cling film, sending candle ends to be recycled in Devon and reducing unnecessary packaging on food that comes in. Food waste is monitored at every stage of the production and consumption cycle. All the team are trained in ways to best reduce food waste at every point; for example, making stocks, preserving, freezing and utilising recipes that use parts of vegetables that are often thrown away. The Kitchen use their Instagram and Hub pages to further educate and influence people as to how they can more easily reduce food waste at home.
At the point when the COVID-19 tier restrictions are relaxed, the Kitchen and Front of House teams will be planning to work with our Major Charity Partner for 2020-22, The Felix Project, on various surplus food initiatives and programmes.
Our wider approach to sustainability and corporate social responsibility
We work alongside our clients on environmentally friendly initiatives. For example, as part of our work for the London Wildlife Trust, a team of 13 volunteers took part in a conservation day at the Camley Street nature reserve.
We continue to participate in the Legal Sustainability Alliance Group, having won the Legal Sustainability Alliance Award in Environmental Responsibility in 2010. We are committed to working along-side the LSA and other UK-based law firms in order to improve the legal community's environmental sustainability.
We are looking to become an executive member by continuing to share best practice, ideas and provide support to other LSA members.
As part of our 2020 Environmental Awareness Week, we hosted virtual sessions on the importance of reducing food waste, insights into environmentally friendly Firm developments and a discussion of the impact of "fast fashion" on the environment. We also hosted a session showing us what happens to our recycling, the problems with waste contamination and highlighting what more we all need to do to ensure we are recycling correctly.
More generally, the Firm continues to be fully committed to promoting sustainable business and CSR.
Every two years we select a major charity partner (MCP) to support as a Firm. Along with financial support, we also work closely with our MCP to identify additional ways we can provide real and tangible value, such as pro bono legal advice and volunteering and engagement opportunities. Our MCP for 2020-22 is The Felix Project.
We launched our own Sustainable Business hub in June 2020, which includes resources designed to help businesses anticipate regulatory developments, proactively manage risk and achieve sustainable business objectives.
For more information on our CSR programme, please click here.
Looking to the future
Whilst great progress has already been made at Travers Smith to help protect the environment, the Firm recognises that sustainability must be an ongoing objective in order to have a real environmental impact. This objective is all the more important in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on our lives and wellbeing.
We are fully committed to meeting this challenge and actively encourage all current and future members of the Travers Smith team to join us in meeting our goals.
For further details on Travers Smith's environmental initiatives, please contact our Sustainability and Health & Safety Officer, Paul Mullis.
Last updated: July 2021