We aim for WPP to be a low-carbon and resource-efficient Group. Our environmental strategy covers energy and climate change, resource efficiency and waste management.

Our ambitious target is to reduce our carbon emissions to 1.2 tonnes per person by 2020, a 65% reduction from our 2006 base line.

Our strategy focuses on:

  • Improving energy efficiency;
  • Reducing nonessential flights by promoting videoconferencing;
  • Purchasing renewable electricity where available;
  • Offsetting our unavoidable carbon emissions from business air travel.

Toby Barlow

Executive creative director

Team Detroit

Environment: exercising our sustainability muscle

In focus: Videoconferencing

WPP is a global business built on relationships. Face-to-face meetings are often essential, making business air travel a necessary part of the way we work. However, we recognise that extensive air travel has an impact on the environment and can affect the wellbeing of our people. Striking the right balance is important but challenging.

We aim to reduce nonessential flights – especially between our own offices – by encouraging both internal and client-facing teams to make better use of videoconferencing and other collaboration tools. We now support 542 videoconferencing (VC) units in over 150 cities in 50 countries.

We introduced a 24-hour, five-day-a-week helpdesk to support the increased number of employees using the system, and to help organise complex calls involving multiple systems, users and content types. We also launched a web portal which enables desktop, laptop, tablet and smartphone users to access our videoconferencing network from wherever they are.

In 2012, usage increased by 58% (from 2011), with half of all calls involving external links to clients and suppliers and 30% of all calls involving tablet and smartphone users.

Worldwide videoconferencing network (key cities)

Worldwide videoconferencing network (key cities)
  • New York
  • Chicago
  • Los Angeles
  • San Francisco
  • Detroit
  • São Paulo
  • London
  • Madrid
  • Barcelona
  • Cape Town
  • Mumbai
  • Delhi
  • Beijing
  • Shanghai
  • Guangzhou
  • Hong Kong
  • Singapore
  • Sydney

Key facts and data

  • 2.45

    tonnes of CO2e emitted per person in 2012 (2011: 2.44)

  • 16%

    electricity purchased from renewable sources

  • 197,041

    carbon credits bought offsetting 100% of carbon emissions from air travel in 2011 and 2012

  • 28%

    reduction in our carbon footprint per person since 2006 (target: 65% by 2020)

  • 542

    VC units supported by WPP’s videoconferencing program (2011: 400)

  • 4,886

    tonnes of waste recycled in 2012

    (2011: 5,681)


Carbon footprint chart
Paper sourcing chart

In our companies

  • Green building: Team Detroit Corporate Crossings, Dearborn, Michigan

    Team Detroit, a joint venture of WPP’s Detroit-based agencies, including JWT, Y&R, Wunderman, Ogilvy & Mather and Mindshare, takes sustainability seriously (see page 52 of the WPP Sustainability Report 2012/2013).

    It has sponsored Team Green, an internal group of employees dedicated to making their workplace more sustainable and efficient, since 2008. Now their efforts have been recognised with a ‘Smooth Operator’ EBie award from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) for most improved building.

    Initiatives by Team Green at the Dearborn offices have achieved a significant reduction on the building’s energy consumption by adjusting temperature settings, installing motion sensors for lights, and setting equipment to automatically power down at the end of every day. From 2009 to 2012, electricity consumption decreased by 33%, saving 2,150 tonnes of CO2e. Over the same period, headcount increased by 30%.

    The building now uses recycled paper, USGBC-certified cleaning supplies and has a carpooling scheme. More accessible recycling bins have resulted in an additional 230,000 kg of paper being recycled. 

    The Corporate Crossings building in Dearborn that houses Team Detroit has also received LEED Silver and Energy Star certification in recognition of its sustainable features.

  • Green building: JWT, GroupM & H+K Strategies. 160 Bloor Street East, Toronto

    In Toronto, JWT, GroupM companies and H+K Strategies partnered with their building management company, Colliers International, to create a more efficient office space with the latest green technology.

    The new space is designed with sustainability in mind, using recycled content, regional materials and FSC-certified wood. The heating and cooling system was upgraded with high-efficiency boilers and chillers and infrared scanning technology was used to identify and repair air leaks in the building’s outer shell. Motion and daylight sensors, as well as energy-efficient, low-mercury lamps were installed to limit the amount of energy wasted from lighting. 

    The building emits 25% less carbon dioxide than similar locations. To reduce water use, fixtures were upgraded and low-flow toilets introduced, saving 2 million litres annually compared with similar buildings. The building is LEED Gold certified.

    Green building: JWT, GroupM & H+K Strategies 160 Bloor Street East, Toronto
  • Greening Hill+Knowlton Strategies

    In 2012, to recognise the company’s new name and brand, Hill+Knowlton Strategies decided to take a fresh look at its environmental policy, goals and performance. The result was a renewed commitment to operate more efficiently as a company and to establish specific benchmarks in each of its 90 offices across five themes: procurement, energy, resource management, awareness and accountability.

    Green champions in each office set goals and implement measures on energy use, business travel, paper use, e-waste and recycling. To date, energy-efficient lighting and water-efficient toilets and sinks have been installed in most offices. Account teams have started rethinking business travel, making better use of technology for internal and client meetings.

    Paper use has been reduced significantly, especially in larger offices where monthly billing reports are now distributed electronically. Recycling bins have been upgraded to ensure paper, glass, plastic and cardboard are all recycled appropriately, and e-waste recycling efforts are in place in each major city to ensure computer equipment, phones and old batteries are disposed of safely and responsibly.

    Internally, H+K has hosted dozens of workshops, contests and events to raise awareness and share ideas. In addition, many H+K employees have volunteered for organised community clean-up events and environment-themed educational outreach to local schools.

  • Reducing the environmental impact of billboard campaigns

    WPP companies are finding creative ways to reduce the environmental impacts of campaign materials, and to raise consumer awareness.

    In Belgium, LDV United created a 100% recycled outdoor campaign for Lampiris, a 100% green electricity provider. The agency screen-printed the ads on other brands’ surplus posters, which otherwise would have gone to waste.

    In India over 150,000 tonnes of vinyl flex, a material used in advertising billboards, is disposed of every day. Typically this waste is burnt in landfills, contributing to air pollution. Star Jalsha, India’s leading Bengali general entertainment channel, wanted to tackle this problem by changing the way it disposed of its advertising billboards. Ogilvy & Mather Kolkata created a campaign in the spirit of Star Jalsha’s brand philosophy Chalo Paltai, which means Let’s change. Instead of sending old billboards to landfill, the vinyl flex was extracted and recycled into reusable objects like shopping bags and table mats. O&M designed the items and distributed them for free around Kolkata. Radio spots, a micro-website and Facebook were used to promote the campaign. Several prominent figures from the Bengali film industry joined the initiative. To date, Star Jalsha has recycled almost 1,700 tonnes of vinyl flex.

    In 2013, Star Jalsha won the Sustainable Marketing Excellence award at the Bloomberg Brand Leadership Awards for its Chalo Paltai initiative.


  • Campaign: Plugged In

    Client: Ford Motor Company

    WPP Company: Team Detroit Dearborn

    Ford has been developing electric vehicle technology for more than a decade and strives to continuously position their electric vehicles as a ‘real car’ alternative for their customers. In 2012, Ford was preparing to launch the Focus Electric, a 100% electric version of its new Focus hatchback. Team Detroit decided to take a unique approach by avoiding a traditional launch and partnering with Yahoo! to create a web series called Plugged In.

    Ten teams of two were recruited to explore their home city with a Focus Electric in a scavenger hunt challenge, allowing them to learn about the advantages of electric vehicles in an entertaining, real-world environment. Celebrities were enlisted to assist the teams and motivate the contestants. A branded online hub hosted the episodes and provided more information on Ford’s electric vehicle options and technology. The content was also distributed across the entire Yahoo! network.

    The campaign reached a wide net of consumers who were interested in learning more about the Focus Electric and other electric vehicle options for more sustainable living.

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