Making McKesson UK a greener organisation

Sales and Operations Director Ashley Cowen shares his thoughts on making a positive difference to the environment and building a greener McKesson UK.

Sustainability. It’s a word that can often be thrown around, but for us it’s something that’s being fully embedded into all our business activities as we move forward. Focused on being a more responsible company, not only are we committed to creating a sustainable business for the future, we’re also taking steps to amplify our action on environmental issues to help better protect the planet.

We’ve made some big pledges so far this year. All our businesses in Europe have committed to being carbon neutral by 2030. We’ve signed up to the United Nations Global Compact Initiative and we are supporting the British Retail Consortium’s Climate Action Roadmap to get the retail industry to Net Zero by 2040.

Our journey to a greener McKesson is going to be a challenging one, and a long road lies ahead but we have a solid plan on how we get there, and we’ve already made some good progress. Our LloydsPharmacy Clinical Homecare compounding team in Harlow have managed to reduce their waste by 1.7 tons, whilst LED lighting and temperature control projects in our AAH warehouses have helped to save 316 tons of carbon dioxide – the same as driving your car to the moon and back twice.

But how do we plan to be carbon neutral by 2030?

  1. We switch to green power. We are running an initiative across McKesson Europe to gather all the power consumption from our pharmacies, offices and warehouses and move it to certified renewable energy – only buying from green sources.
  2. We train our drivers to drive more economically. We have 1,500 delivery vans travelling 75 million miles a year that currently get 24 miles to the gallon on average. That’s 3,125,000 gallons of fuel. If we can train our drivers to get 25 miles to the gallon – just 1 gallon more – we would save 125,000 gallons which is the equivalent of 700 trees.
  3. We reduce our flights. During COVID-19 we’ve reduced our flights by 90%. As things return to normal, flights will be much harder to justify and any we do take will be offset.
  4. We improve our energy management. We will assess how much energy each of our sites uses and look at ways to reduce this including installing LED lighting and solar panels.
  5. We foster green projects. We are looking at how we reduce the use of packaging in our pharmacies and damage reduction in AAH. Our team in Leeds have reduced damaged packs by 7000 per annum and we will be looking at how we replicate this at each of our distribution sites.

We will also be looking at the contractor vehicles we use and how we can reduce and minimise fuel consumption here, as well as trying to turn our diesel fleet into something more eco-friendly. With 3 vans on trial now, this is something we hope to start implementing late next year.

And as we look to next year, each of our ELT have committed to influencing change. AAH will use energy management trackers and each site will have its very own energy champion. The commercial team will be negotiating with suppliers on green deals before we buy from them and digital will be introducing e-receipts to reduce the amount of paper we use. HR are also committed to being totally paperless by April 2021 and our LloydsPharmacy stores are looking at how they recycle all cardboard by November 2021.

It’s interesting that 2020 was heralded by many as the year when environmental factors would become mainstream. With less people taking flights and more people working from home, I think there’s a lot of learnings to be taken from COVID-19 that we can implement post-pandemic. But alongside all the changes, it’s important that all our colleagues understand how they too can contribute. That’s why, across all our European businesses, we are introducing a sustainability challenge throughout the month of December. Each day we will be sharing a task for colleagues to take on to help raise awareness of the small things we can all do in our personal and working lives to reduce our environmental impact.

Small changes make a big difference, and that’s what we will be reminding colleagues of as we encourage them to get involved in this challenge and our journey to be carbon neutral.

By being responsible, taking accountability and working together we will create positive change and a greener McKesson UK.