Our Stories

Boots UK Champions Change for World Environment Day

05 June 2018

Today, Tuesday 5th June, is World Environment Day, the United Nation's most important day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the protection of our environment. To mark the occasion, we are taking a look back at how the business has been championing change and providing innovative, sustainable solutions for over a century.

At Boots UK, we aim to build happy, healthy and more sustainable communities. We have long recognised the importance of protecting our environment in order to achieve this ambition, which is reflected in our four key areas of Corporate Social Responsibility: Community, Marketplace, Workplace and Environment. CSR activities and targets throughout the business are aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs)1, which we are committed to supporting. By championing for change and through living our business values of trust, care, innovation, partnership and dedication, we have made great progress and achieved some fantastic results.

During fiscal 2017 Boots UK achieved its CO2 reduction target three years ahead of schedule, cutting emissions by 33 percent2. We had committed to a target of 30 percent emissions reduction by 2020, as part of the Mayday network of businesses that responded to a challenge from His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales to tackle climate change3. We have been members of the Mayday network since 2007, and ‘energy and carbon management’ continues to be one of our main corporate social responsibility priorities.

As the UK’s leading health and beauty retailer, we also understand the importance of product sustainability. In line with United Nation’s theme for this World Environment Day, Boots has put measures in place to help #BeatPlasticPollution. Last year we changed Boots Brand cotton bud stems from plastic to rolled paper. In 2015 we removed plastic microbeads from rinse off products ahead of the UK ban and, in 2006, we were one of the first companies to use recycled plastic in toiletry bottles.

And our commitment to operating as a socially responsible business goes right back to the start of the 20th century. Boots introduced the recycling of its paper and packaging during the First World War and since then we have worked to further reduce our impact on the environment through implementing additional initiatives. For example, bottle salvage began in the 1940s, when a bottle washing machine was installed at the Beeston site – it sorted and washed dispensary and medicine bottles and returned them to the warehouse for re-use.

The Salvage Department at Beeston, 1953: two men operating a mechanical tipper emptying paper and cardboard onto a bench for sorting.

Bottle Washing, D48, 1950s


The business has also long taken an innovative approach to sustainable energy solutions, generating our own energy since 1915 when our first Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Plant was constructed at the Island Street site in Nottingham. The plant was considered unique in design due to its compactness, and made the most efficient use of energy by utilising the steam power for a number of purposes. Boots continued to generate its own energy when moving to the new site at Beeston, where in 1997 we opened our innovative Energy Centre. As part of our commitment to constant environmental improvements, the plant is equipped with modern gas turbines and advanced computer technology and is environmentally cleaner, producing fewer emissions.

EG Phillips, electrical engineer, 1917, “"When this scheme was first formulated, the idea was to supply from a centralised plant, all steam required for power generation purposes, steam for manufacturing purposes, and the heating of buildings, etc, the generation of electrical energy at the lowest cost possible."

The control room at D200 Energy Centre, 1997

As a retailer with a 170 year heritage that everyone knows and trusts, we want to be a business that is working on a wider scale to help address environmental challenges. Today our corporate social responsibility priorities include waste, transport, and more! At Boots, we don’t consider each environmental issue in isolation. We recognise that they can often be interrelated, as well as extremely complex, and this guides our holistic approach to sustainable decision making throughout our business. Through this innovative and holistic approach, we hope to bring lasting, mutual benefits to our business and the world in which we all live.


To learn more about what we do, visit: http://www.boots-uk.com/corporate-social-responsibility/what-we-do/environment/

For more information on World Environment Day, see http://worldenvironmentday.global/en





1 https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/

2  Fiscal 2017, in Boots stores that were open in 2005, based on the most recent UK conversion factors for greenhouse gas reporting

3 The Prince’s May Day Network consists of over 3,800 businesses committed to working collaboratively to tackle climate change, helping to build a sustainable future for our planet.