Environmental Responsibility

Energy and Emissions

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change declared in their Fifth Assessment Report that their findings conclude that human influence on the global climate is clear and growing with a 95 percent confidence that humans are the primary cause of global warming in the last 60 years*. Among other factors, greenhouse gas emissions from burning of fuels and deforestation are contributing to the change currently taking place across the globe.

* IPCC Fifth Assessment Report


At Univar, we believe that as a business with strong ethical and responsible principles, we should take action to mitigate our impacts on climate change. Through assessing our current impacts and identifying abatement action on fuel and resource use, we are committed to reducing our contribution to this global issue.

Our current targets relating specifically to energy consumption and emissions are to reduce our absolute emissions year-on-year. Our operations and EHS team have been working to reduce our impact on the environment through means appropriate to each operation throughout 2016. As part of this, we have implemented multiple energy saving and carbon abatement measures at numerous sites in 2016, including replacing industrial boilers, installing LED lighting, incentivizing car sharing and use of public transport, and improving route optimization to reduce fuel consumption.

We are pleased to announce that this year we have achieved our year-on-year targets to reduce both our total energy use and total emissions.

The figures below provide a breakdown of our energy use and emissions from 2015 to 2016.

Univar global energy consumption 2015-2016

Univar global emissions 2015-2016

Univar Scope 1 and 2 energy and emissions 2015-2016

Our absolute energy use has decreased by 42,898 MWh from 2015, a significant reduction of 7.85 percent. Our absolute emissions have fallen by 4,153 tCO2e since 2015, marking a 3.02 percent reduction.

To provide consistency and to enable further comparability over time, we are reporting our intensity ratios on a global basis on a full-time employee equivalent (FTE) and metric tons (MT) dispatched metrics.

Univar  energy consumption and emissions intensity ratios 2015-2016

Not only have we improved on our energy use and emissions performance in absolute terms, but we have also reduced our intensity metrics of energy consumed per employee and per metric tonne dispatched. While our intensity metric of emissions per employee rose by 1.4 percent, our overall trends in 2016 were encouraging and we are confident that we will continue to make further reductions in absolute and intensity based figures. At Univar, we see our improvements as an opportunity to further responsible practices throughout the business and our wider value chain. 

Below is a detailed breakdown of Univar’s 2016 energy use and emissions by source and scope, including data for our 2015 base year.

Detail of energy use and emissions by source and scope

In addition to the energy and fuel reductions brought about by our energy efficiency installations and initiatives, other factors influenced our progress. The most significant change in 2016 was due to a 41 percent reduction in natural gas consumption, the majority of which occurred in the Unites States and is partly attributed to a record warm winter in comparison to a colder than average winter in 2015.

Managing Our Transport Sustainably


As a world leader in chemical distribution, a significant proportion of our fuel use and emissions comes from road transport activities. Univar sees clear opportunities to reduce our impact in this area by investing in systems and changing behaviors. During the last year, Univar developed and implemented a transport management system in our USA business that optimizes routes and tracks driver speed, acceleration, breaking and driving habits, all of which impact fuel consumption. Across the region, this has led to a 12 percent improvement in commercial fleet miles per gallon and equivalent emissions reductions, increasing value, on-time delivery and safety.

Sustainable Mobility Plan, Iberia


Univar recognizes that a one-size-fits-all approach to achieving our sustainability goals is not always the most effective way to reduce our impacts. In the spirit of our One Univar strategic priority, we embrace the geographic and business diversity of our organization to implement changes most effectively, sharing knowledge and learning for our mutual success.

In Spain and Portugal, local teams implemented sustainable transportation plans through employee training and by providing information on alternative commuter travel solutions. As a result of this program, 100 percent of employees underwent driving efficiency training and 59 percent of participants are either car sharing, using public transport or walking to work. Furthermore, most of Univar’s Europe, Middle East and Africa operations have implemented car leasing criteria to ensure vehicles have emissions no greater than 130g/km CO2.

Going forward, we are looking to increase participation in this initiative and will incentivize alternative transportation solutions for commuting to make such solutions even more for attractive for employees.

Univar set a global baseline for energy and emissions based 2015 data, allowing us to carry out short-term, useful reduction calculations. Although Univar has been collecting and assessing our energy and emissions data since 2007 in some regions, 2015 was the first year in which data from our global sites was sufficiently complete and transparent.

In 2016, we revised the emissions factors that we use to calculate our total metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e). As a result, we restated our 2015 base year by retrospectively applying the previous year’s factors from the same source of emissions factors used for 2016. This has increased the consistency of our approach and comparability over time.

Our energy and emissions data collection methodology has been guided by the GHG Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard. Data has been collated for all operational sites and significant offices for 2016, and emission calculations are based on 2016 UK Government GHG factors for all conversions with the exception of non-UK electricity, which has been calculated using 2015 UK Government GHG factors. Our energy and emissions relate to our scope 1 (direct) and scope 2 (indirect) emissions. Where appropriate, we have made informed estimations for a small number of sites. At present we do not collect data on or report our scope 3 emissions. However, as part of our sustainability agenda progression, we will continue to review our scope.

Univar is improving how we actively assess the performance of each office and country in which we operate. Identifying changes over time is key to monitoring progress. Cited below is our comprehensive performance that captures more than 99.9 percent of our operations (on a per FTE basis).