Resource use and waste

Our approach
As an office-based company, our resource use and waste generation are relatively low. However, we spend over $9 billion with suppliers of goods and services each year, related to both our own business as well as the work we do for clients. So using fewer resources and producing less waste are clearly an opportunity to reduce costs, both for ourselves and for our clients.

Our strategy to reduce our resources and waste footprint is three-fold:
  • Use natural resources as efficiently as possible by reducing unnecessary consumption wherever feasible.
  • Promote the use of sustainable and renewable resources by encouraging our operating companies to use preferred suppliers selected by WPP across key areas of spend.
  • Reduce the amount of waste we send to landfill by encouraging local arrangements for computer and furniture re-use and establishing recycling contracts for electronic waste and standard office consumables.
What we're doing
Paper sourcing and use:
In 2012, 31% of the paper we used for copying and printing contained at least 50% post-consumer recycled fiber. Our target is to increase that percentage to 50% by 2015. We have established preferred suppliers of recycled paper in our major markets, which our operating companies are encouraged to use. Our managed print program helps us to reduce paper use by 20 to 30% per location.

Water use:
In 2009, we launched a water conservation strategy that targets our largest locations in areas of waster scarcity. At 11 key locations, we are measuring our water consumption and establishing pilot projects for water conservation. Our target is to reduce water use per person by 20% by 2015 to 11.7 cubic meters. Our water conservation guidelines help our operating companies to reduce water use. We will use what we learn at these locations to inform how we manage water in other offices located in areas of water scarcity.

Office waste:
We have established preferred suppliers of recycling services for waste paper and standard office consumables in our major markets, which our operating companies are encouraged to use.

IT waste:
Our goal is for obsolete IT equipment to be refurnished and sold for reuse or, if this is not possible, to be broken down for recycling. Disposal is a last resort and must be done in compliance with local environmental regulations and data security best practice. We appointed global IT vendors to manage our obsolete IT equipment, including laptops, desktops and servers in 2012.
We use mobile technology extensively and handsets are frequently upgraded. We have established preferred suppliers of recycling services for mobile phones in our major markets, which our operating companies are encouraged to use.

Our performance
For a full summary of our progress in these areas, read our latest Sustainability Report. The tables below provide key performance data on paper and waste since 2008 and on water since 2010:

Paper sourcing
  2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
% paper purchased with at least 50%
post consumer recycled fiber
31% 38% 36% 32% 31%

Recycled waste(tonnes)*
  2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Paper and cardboard
4,027 3,428 3,973 4,739 4,027
IT equipment
(incl. computers and mobile phones)
147 126 103 88 147
Other waste recycled
712 973 603 774 712
Total 4,886 4,527 4,679 5,571 4,886

*The majority of our offices are leased and situated in shared buildings, making it difficult to track waste generation. However, data collection is improving and we will publish data on our waste generation when we feel confident about its quality.

Water use at key locations in areas of water scarcity (cubic meters)
  2010 2011 2012
Water use per person

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For more information see the latest Sustainability Report