The direct environmental impact of Signet's operations is considered to be relatively low compared to many business sectors and to other retailers. An environmental impact review confirmed that:
Notwithstanding the above, Signet takes its environmental performance seriously and seeks opportunities to improve it.
Signet recognises that there is now broad international scientific consensus that man-made emissions of greenhouse gases are contributing to climate change, and that the economic costs of inaction far outweigh the costs of action. Further, the Group recognises that to combat climate change effectively action is required from all levels of society. Consequently, Signet is committed to playing a role in the transition to a lower carbon economy.
The Group has therefore begun the process of mapping climate change risks and opportunities to the business. The Group in 2007/08 continued to collect baseline data for energy usage and has expanded the greenhouse gas inventory to include emissions from business travel. This process helped to enhance environmental management systems and validate the previous year's results as a basis for setting credible future performance targets. The Group continues to identify and implement initiatives to reduce energy usage.
During 2008/09 the Group will continue to collect and assess baseline data for energy use and greenhouse gas emissions and increase the scope of that collection process and review the methodology of the collection processes. The Group is focused on improving data to establish a more accurate emissions baseline. It is intended that this information will then be used to further develop the Group's carbon reduction management plan, which will include performance targets.
The Group has been implementing eco-efficiency initiatives to reduce energy use since 2003 and continues to assess further opportunities to minimise resource use. Energy use in Signet's retail stores accounts for a large proportion of its climate impact. To address this the Group is testing different energy efficient technology options for the building fabrics, lighting, heating and cooling and energy management in its stores. Over the past year the Group has undertaken a review of energy efficiency opportunities in the new model UK store designs and also undertook energy audits in representative stores in the US.
To ensure that the Group follows best practice in the management of its climate change impacts, it is currently assessing its position in relation to the climate change criteria introduced by FTSE4Good in February 2007. Although this criteria are currently not applicable to Signet because the business is not categorised as high or medium impact, Signet recognises the Index as a measure of best practice and continues to assess its position in relation to compliance.
As the subject of climate change rises up the corporate agenda, driven by the gravity of the issue, increasingly it becomes important to enlist employees in the undertaking. This is especially so as there is evidence that employees themselves are showing a growing appetite to both better understand this complex issue and learn what they can do to reduce their own carbon footprints. As Signet seeks to strengthen its own response to the climate change challenge, primarily by focusing initially on the reduction of carbon emissions, in due course it intends increasingly to engage employees more directly on the subject of climate change. Therefore the Group is working to develop an employee engagement action plan specifically related to the issue of climate change.
Environmental data has been collated and trend data across environmental performance indicators is now available from 2002 to 2006 at Group and divisional level, both as absolute and ratio values.
In 2007/08 the Group continued to collect baseline data for energy usage, greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption and waste disposal. This continuous monitoring has allowed analysis of trends across environmental key performance indicators. Between 2004 and 2006 the data shows a reduction in Group energy use, greenhouse gas emissions and water across a range of business metrics including turnover, shop floor area and employee numbers.
Work is being undertaken in both of the UK and US business divisions to identify opportunities to further reduce our energy consumption. The UK division is working with the Carbon Trust to gain expert advice on potential carbon reduction opportunities specific to its business. The Carbon Trust was set up by the Government in 2001 to accelerate the move to a low carbon economy by working with organisations to reduce carbon emissions and develop commercial low carbon technologies.
The US division has engaged a consulting firm to identify energy saving opportunities. In the US a detailed lighting analysis has been conducted and as part of a store and real estate project, obsolete ballasts have been replaced with new energy efficiency ballasts. A light standard, based on industry standards, has been set for the US divisional office and a lighting replacement programme began at the end of December 2006 for three buildings at the US divisional office and was completed during 2007/08. A number of other initiatives have also commenced relating to in-store energy efficiency programmes concerning light fixtures, reflective roofing materials and store signage. Moisture sensors have been installed in the irrigation system to conserve water use. The US divisional office recycling programme was also expanded.
Further, the Group continues to work within the CRJP, the Jewelers of America, the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, the WDC, the Madison Dialogue and the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance and with other jewellery retailers in exploring ways in which the jewellery industry can use its influence to improve environmental performance related to mining.