In 2012, we launched the Think Big Blueprint, our first sustainability plan that set big, ambitious goals that we hoped would transform our role in the world around us. We set three goals and 40 commitments, and gave ourselves three years to achieve them.
The idea at the heart of the Blueprint is that not only do we need to continuously improve our own social and environmental impacts, we also have a unique opportunity to inspire and enable millions of others to live more sustainable lives through our products and services.
One of the things I’m personally most proud of is our work with young people. Our goal, by 2015, is to help 1 million young people develop skills for life and lead community projects across the UK. That’s the equivalent of the entire population of Birmingham! And by June 2014, we were two-thirds of the way there already.
I’ve seen for myself the amazing impact we’re having — day in, day out — whether that’s through our grant-giving programme, Think Big Youth; our work-experience partnership, GoThinkBig; or the coding and Internet skills we equip secondary school children with through Think Big School.
We’ve also seen great innovation in how we tackle our target of helping 10 million customers live in easier, more sustainable ways. We’ve pioneered a new market for charger-free phones; launched Eco Rating 2.0 — an industry standard to help consumers understand the sustainability of their mobile devices; and O2 Recycle had a record year.
However, it’s looking unlikely that we will be able to meet our goal of delivering carbon benefits to customers that are 10 times the impact of our network by 2015. While we’re extremely proud of the way we’re managing our own environmental impacts — whether it’s reducing water consumption per person by 29%, buying 97% of our electricity from green tariffs, or reducing relative carbon emissions by 76% — we could never have met our ten-times carbon goal on our own. It required significant innovation and the uptake of new digital products and services. Nonetheless, business projections on our carbon performance suggest we can expect to achieve savings greater than those of our network carbon impact.
We fundamentally believe that a digital society is a lower-carbon one and the future looks encouraging. Digital services such as fleet management, machine-to-machine connectivity, handset recycling, removing chargers out of the box and flexi-working initiatives will all have a role to play. And of course, winning the UK Government’s smart meter contract will have a significant impact on how O2 can support the move to a lower-carbon society.
We are proud that we set bold goals and our external stakeholder panel has consistently backed our ambition. Inevitably, driving this level of change is demanding. Technological innovation has to go hand in hand with behaviour change. Realising the full potential of the digital revolution ultimately rests on our ability as humans to transform the way we live and work. We believe the Blueprint continues to demonstrate how a business can embrace this challenge.