ADVERTORIAL: Meet one of the ‘pioneers’ helping South West Water reach Net Zero

A dedicated group of ‘Net Zero Pioneers’ is helping the region’s water supplier with a ground-breaking plan to be Net Zero by 2030.

With the end of COP26, the issue of climate change has never been more in focus. Countries only have a limited time to act to stave off the worst effects of climate change.

This is why an enthusiastic band of South West Water employees have transformed into ‘Net Zero Pioneers’ with a mission to support the sector-wide aim of becoming Net Zero by 2030.

Waste Water Quality Technician and Net Zero Pioneer Kirstie Smith explained: “I was really inspired to act by climate change and the impact it is already having across the world.

“South West Water is uniquely placed in the Westcountry to play a leading role in not only reducing but also reversing our carbon emissions.

“Everybody at the company has an important part to play and must act collectively to protect and enhance our precious natural environment.”

Aware of the challenges

Kirstie lives near St Austell but travels all around Devon and Cornwall as part of her vital job as a Waste Water Quality Technician.

She said: “I’m on the road the majority of the time so I’ve been out all day today in the gale-force winds.

“I’ve found being a Net Zero Pioneer really refreshing as it’s given me the opportunity to network with colleagues in other areas of the business that I wouldn’t normally come into contact with.

“It’s put my actual day-to-day role in more context and I’ve become more aware of the challenges and opportunities in all areas of the firm – whether it’s operations, fleet management or construction activities.

“I’ve already discussed with my immediate team some of our aims and how we can all play our part in supporting our Net Zero pledge.”

Carbon-Busting Net Zero Plan South West Water’s Net Zero Pioneers pictured after a team day at Exeter Racecourse (Image: South West Water)

South West Water has pledged to achieve Net Zero carbon operational emissions by 2030.

Its Pioneers support the business with the development and delivery of a Carbon-Busting Net Zero Plan, and they promote and communicate the ideas with colleagues across the organisation.

Kirstie said: “The proposed changes are based around three pillars – sustainable living, championing renewables, and reversing carbon emissions.

“So our role as Net Zero Pioneers is to be the champions of our cultural changes for good and trying to take a fresh look at how we as a team think about our relationship with the environment.

“It’s a really ambitious plan and will need all of our colleagues to adapt their behaviours.”

Engaging with colleagues

The Pioneers scheme is also an opportunity for South West Water to engage with colleagues at every level of the organisation and to get their ideas on how it can implement the Carbon-Busting Net Zero Plan.

Kirstie said: “I think South West Water has been brilliant in being quite open about not having all the answers to the challenges that face them.

“They’re asking people in the business to come forward with ideas, however small or out-there they may seem because there might actually be something we can do.

“From the beginning, they were really keen to recruit a breadth of people across the business, from graduates to apprentices to senior managers.

“In fact, they were originally going to choose 10 Net Zero Pioneers but they were so impressed with the calibre of applications they actually appointed 13.”

Just the beginning South West Water is switching to a 100% electric car and van fleet by 2030

South West Water knows that the economy and wellbeing of the region is reliant on the environment.

The launch of the Net Zero Pioneers team is just the start of a series of important initiatives developed to help deliver the company’s climate ambitions.

For instance, it is well on its way to planting 250,000 trees by 2025, having hit its original target of 100,000 trees an impressive four years early, and is decarbonising its fleet, switching to a 100% electric car and van fleet by 2030.

Now it has pledged to hit Net Zero operational carbon emissions by 2030 and dedicated Pioneers like Kirstie are absolutely crucial in shaping and delivering this and helping to galvanise colleagues.

Find out more?

For further information about the Net Zero Pioneers and South West Water’s Carbon-Busting Net Zero Plan, see the website.