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Sustainability-focused law firm reduces carbon emissions by 45% during lockdown

Sustainability is firmly at the top of the agenda, from Boris Johnson’s ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution to Bill Gates’ new book “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster”. However, it is down to individuals and businesses to really commit to saving the planet through their day-to-day operations. Ann Barrasso, operations director at Roythornes, explains how the law firm is reducing its carbon footprint by making small changes every day.

“As professionals, and as people, sustainability is important to the Roythornes team. It’s very easy to commit to vague goals and unrealistic targets over a ten- or even twenty-year period, but in order to have strong green credentials and initiate real change, we need to incorporate green changes into our everyday practice.

“One of the key pledges made by the team in 2019 was to reduce our paper usage by 5%. The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent national lockdowns forced paperless working into corporate life. We’ve all had to find new ways of operating and to think differently about how documents are read, signed and delivered when working remotely.

“As a result, by incorporating paperless working into everyday life, it enabled us to reduce our carbon emissions by an astounding 45% between October 2019 and December 2020. Since we started using electronic forms rather than paper-based forms, we have produced more than 200,000 bills, credit notes, or internal finance notifications, saving just under half a million sheets of paper, not to mention mitigating the emissions of running the printer and producing the ink.

“These small swaps pave the way to reducing your environmental impact daily. During this time, we also held more than 1,300 Microsoft Teams meetings, saving energy on travel and office heating and lighting. Roythornes also switched to Teams telephony to reduce the electricity consumption from desktop telephones and we will be recycling the old handsets.

“Even before lockdown, we were committed to making green changes in our offices. At our Spalding HQ we purchase 100% renewable energy, create 90% recyclable waste and installed LED lighting in 2018 to make the office as environmentally friendly as possible.

“While we’re proud of these small swaps – we saved seven tonnes of carbon emissions over the last environmental audit year – there’s always more to be done, starting with our inboxes. Electronic communication has its own carbon footprint and studies have suggested that everyone cutting back by just one email per day could save 16,000 tonnes of carbon –the equivalent of more than 80,000 flights from London to Madrid.

“Inevitably, email communication doubled between January and December 2020 and although the reduced paper is a great start, we’ve committed to reducing the number of unnecessary emails sent in 2021.

“It’s time to think outside of the box when considering how to mitigate your environmental impact as a business. From employing the use of electric vehicles, to making sure your recycling processes are up to scratch, we have a corporate and personal responsibility to reduce carbon emissions and we’re looking forward to continuing with our environmental pledges.”