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Marshalls reduces carbon footprint by 50% as it launches challenge to competitors to set science based targets

Published: 20 July 2021 - Neil Mead

Leading hard landscaping business Marshalls has announced it has reduced its carbon footprint by 50% since 2008 with a target for a 40% reduction in carbon per tonne of production by 2030 having been approved by the Science Based Targets initiative.

 

The company first published its carbon data back in 2004 and is the only UK construction materials manufacturer to have its targets approved by the Science Based Targets initiative in line with the goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement. It has today launched the Marshalls Climate Challenge e-book challenging its competitors and the rest of the construction industry to join them on the road to net-zero.

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) is a joint initiative by CDP, the UN Global Compact, the World Resources Institute and WWF whose aim is to increase corporate ambition on climate action by mobilising companies to set greenhouse gas emission reduction targets consistent with the level of decarbonisation required by science to limit warming to well below 2°C compared to preindustrial temperatures and pursuing efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C.

Marshalls, which manufactures over 5,000 hard landscaping and building products, is now calling on its competitors and other construction businesses to take meaningful action and set true, deliverable targets on reducing the industry’s carbon production, which currently makes up 19% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Marshalls’ Group Sustainability Director, Chris Harrop OBE, said: “We know the construction industry is one of the biggest global producers of carbon. We have an enormous role to play in helping to achieve the targets set out in the Paris Agreement, which is why we have set science-based targets that are stretching but achievable and will make a real difference.

The story in the UK for construction is not a good one. Just when we should be making serious inroads into carbon emissions, the sector has seen its emissions rise by 45% since 1990.

“Currently the earth is expected to reach a temperature increase of 1.5°C in less than 12 years, the consequences of which will ultimately lead to significant, detrimental and irreversible change to the planet we live on. The construction industry must act now.”

As the UK’s leading concrete and natural stone product manufacturer, Marshalls has been aware of its potential impact for a long time. Since 2004, it has strived to reduce carbon intensive cement in its concrete products without impacting on the lifespan of the product. Its initiatives to date have included:

  • Introducing renewable energy across all production sites
  • Reducing cement content in concrete block paving products by 60%
  • Introducing Euro 6 vehicles as standard across its fleet
  • Introducing solar panels at two sites, with a commitment to one major solar project per year going forward

Alongside setting its own science-based targets, Marshalls has also called for the industry to put an end to greenwashing by setting its own targets for mitigating climate change and to publishing validated results.

As Chris Harrop explains, a lack of use of the consistent, industry-wide standards can lead to misleading information for customers and end users. He says: "If a manufacturer offers a product that has a worse carbon footprint than one measured against a standard methodology to calculate carbon footprints, it's easy for them to simply create a methodology for measuring that product."

That’s why Marshalls is such a strong proponent of PAS2050, the Specification for the assessment of the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of goods and services sponsored by the UK Government with the co-operation of organisations such as The World Resources Institute/ The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WRI/WBCSD), ISO (International Organisation for Standardization) and the European Commission.

It is that lack of consistency that Marshalls suggests leads some organisations to implement well intentioned policies and launch products that have little real impact on climate change and carbon reduction while other, less scrupulous organisations actively greenwash messages for short term commercial advantage.

Chris Harrop continues: "The biggest single thing that would make it easier to make an informed decision is consistency. We need to get to a point where everybody is on an even playing field, where everybody is open, honest, transparent and consistent about what they're measuring."

To download the full e-book or read the Marshalls Carbon Manifesto, visit  Marshalls' Climate Challenge.

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