How sustainable is Stedin Group?

One planet thinking

We only have one planet. The rapid exhaustion of our planet’s resources and growing divide between haves and have-nots signal clear limits to our current culture of growth and consumption. We must make do with the only planet we have and limit the environmental impact of our business operations, acknowledging planetary boundaries. This is the essence of One Planet Thinking.

We have identified the four key areas in which our operations have the greatest impact: climate change, raw material consumption, clean air and an inclusive society. We are committed to reducing and – where necessary – offsetting our impact in those areas. We aim to increase our positive impact and lead the business sector by example with regard to an inclusive society.

Climate change

Our planet is heating up as a result of greenhouse gas emissions. This could have disastrous effects in the long term. The international climate agreement enshrines our joint commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and halt this warming process. The Netherlands has introduced a national Energy Agreement as a part of the effort to reach this goal.

As a Dutch company with a societal role, Stedin also contributes to these climate targets. We do so by reducing the amount of CO2 emitted as a result of our business operations, and are working to be climate-neutral by 2030. We aim to reduce our emissions as much as possible and offset where necessary.

Reducing our CO2 emissions

Grid losses are by far the greatest factor in our overall CO2 emissions. Grid losses arise during the transport of electricity: the greater the distance, the greater the loss. We also lose electricity because people fail to pay for the electricity they use, often due to fraud. We must purchase electricity to compensate for these electricity losses. If we purchase grey power for this purpose, we will emit 500,000 tonnes of CO2. We are thus mainly greening our grid losses through the purchase of Dutch wind energy and offsetting where necessary through the purchase of Guarantees of Origin. We also emit CO2 through our buildings and vehicle fleet. Increasing the sustainability of our real estate portfolio has been factored into all renovation plans. Measures have been taken or scheduled at all locations. Although some buildings are already energy-positive, this cannot be achieved under all circumstances. We are ultimately aiming to reduce our locations’ emissions to near 0 by 2030. As a part of this effort, we are also working to gain greater insight into our CO2 performance. For example, our carbon footprint will serve as a basis for further improvement and reduction projects.

Raw material consumption

Stedin purchases numerous products, such as tubing, pipes, cables and transformers. These products contain raw materials such as copper, aluminium and plastics. As many raw materials are becoming scarcer, acquiring them often has highly detrimental consequences for humans and the environment. We are literally reaching our planetary boundaries. Stedin takes a responsible approach to raw materials, both in order to ensure optimal sustainability and reduce costs. We strive to use recycled raw materials where possible. Once raw materials have been used, they are reused as far as possible without loss of value. If any waste streams are created, they will be redeployed to the highest grade possible or recycled.

We aim to have gained insight into all our raw material flows and their respective impacts before 2020. We also aim to have implemented circular business operations by 2030. This will involve minimising raw material consumption while maximising value retention.

Implementing circular business operations

A solid procurement policy based on the use of a material passport and related ‘circular procurement’ KPI should help ensure optimal transparency. This material passport will offer insight into the raw materials and other materials contained in each purchased product, the extent to which these products contain recycled materials and extent to which the product or material can be recycled after its useful life. This will allow us to determine the extent of Stedin’s circularity. In the period up until 2020, we will mainly be working with suppliers to gain greater insight on these aspects. We will then be applying circularity as a tendering requirement (where possible) from 2020 onwards.

We will provide all households we serve the option of installing a smart meter before 2020 as a part of the Fair Meter Project. Naturally, smart meters also contain raw materials that are increasingly scarce, sourced from conflict zones or manufactured under dangerous or unfair working conditions. This prompted Stedin and its partners to develop a smart meter called Fair Meter: a smart meter that consumes minimal energy, is 100% fair and made of recycled materials. In addition to contributing to the circular economy, the meter offers valuable lessons on greening our manufacturing process in collaboration with suppliers. See the FAIR METER website for more details on the initiative. Lessons learned can also be applied to other product groups, such as cables and transformers.

Clean air

With 1280 vans, 600 passenger cars and 220 private lease vehicles, Stedin operates one of the largest corporate vehicle fleets in the Randstad region. These vehicles emit particulate matter: tiny dust particles with negative health effects. The energy we purchase and systems we use (e.g. diesel generators) also contribute to particulate emissions. We aim to keep reducing these emissions moving forward. For example, we are working to ensure that particulate emissions caused by our vehicle fleet and energy procurement no longer exceed our planet’s limitations by 2020. We aim to do the same for our entire organisation’s particulate emissions by 2030. This will involve a reduction of at least 50% as compared to current emissions.

Achieving lower particulate emissions

The emphasis will be on reducing the amount of particulate matter emitted by our vehicle fleet. The fleet should be largely at zero emissions by 2020, and fully electrified within 5 years. This represents a considerable challenge due to the number of vehicles involved. Efforts to make our fleet more sustainable will pick up pace over the coming years as electric cars become more widely available. For example, we have entered into a partnership with Greenwheels, replaced our carpool vehicles with a 100% electric model (Renault ZOE), and provide our staff with public transport cards that allow them to travel free of charge throughout the week for both personal and business purposes. The company vehicles should follow suit as soon as possible, depending on supply. At present, 71 vehicles in our business fleet are hybrid electric, while 33 are fully electric.

Grid losses and generator units also impact our particulate emissions. Efforts to green our grid losses are also helping to reduce particulate emissions: with less fossil fuels burned during the energy generation process, a smaller amount of particulate matter is emitted.

Inclusive society

An inclusive labour market offers equal opportunities to all and excludes no one. Unfortunately, this is often not actually the case. Stedin Group is committed to working for equal opportunities and long-term employability for all. We want our workforce to reflect society, to reflect our living environment. We aim to ensure that all Stedin staff feel welcome and are treated equally regardless of their age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, background, education level or impairment. These standards are laid down in our code of conduct. By 2020, Stedin aims to employ 100 people with an occupational impairment, with 30 refugees with residence permits having started work as fitters or apprentice fitters through an apprenticeship programme.

Ensuring equal opportunities for all

Our apprenticeship programme has already helped hundreds of people without qualifications obtain a recognised vocational diploma and find paid work as fitters. A wonderful win-win situation, in other words, that also contributes to resolving our shortage of trained technical staff. A group of 10 refugees with residence permits started on a preliminary programme in the spring of 2018. The programme will prepare the group for their training as head fitters (low and medium-voltage). Our smart meter fitter project is another good case in point. In the period since 2015, we have retrained over 300* career changers for a position as smart meter fitters; 90* of this group had been unemployed for an extended period.

The Participation Act establishes a joint commitment by the government and employers and employees’ associations to offer paid work with regular employers to 125,000 people with an occupational impairment. Stedin is also committed to this goal, and is helping to improve this vulnerable group’s employability by creating various positions in our organisation.

We are also committed to the long-term employability of our employees. We believe every employee is unique, and has their own specific wishes, needs and talents. The issue of employability requires constant attention in an evolving environment. This necessitates effective dialogue with colleagues, the employee’s environment and managerial staff. We will work together to ensure equal opportunities for all.

Finally, we are teaming up with other stakeholders in the fight against energy poverty, have partnered with the JINC youth labour market initiative and actively encourage volunteer work amongst our staff.