Emissions in the water industry

The water industry makes up around 1% of the UK’s annual carbon footprint, so it's important that water companies play their part in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. 

Deck chairs

But where do these emissions come from? Having a good understanding of where our greenhouse gases come from is crucial to making as many reductions as we can. You find out about some of the big sources of our greenhouse gases here.

Operational Emissions

Operational Emissions are emitted through our everyday processes and activities.


Electricity We use electricity for part of water treatment process and pumping water, as well as powering our offices, buildings and electric vehicles.
Process Emissions Process emissions are released when chemical changes are made to raw materials. Over half of our carbon footprint is made up of process emissions. Methane and nitrous oxide are released as a result of complex treatment methods like anaerobic digestion and ozonation.
Transport Fuel We are currently in the process of switching to zero-carbon vehicles, but at the moment most of our vehicles run on diesel or petrol. Our vehicles go on callouts across Yorkshire everyday. 
Gas Oil Gas oil is the commercial version of diesel – we use it a lot in heating systems for remote sites and sometimes in electric generators.
Natural Gas We use gas for some wastewater treatment processes and to heat our buildings.

Capital Emissions

Capital Emissions come from our building works and construction projects.


Electricity We use a lot of electricity for our building works and construction projects. Electricity is the largest source of our capital emissions.
Concrete Concrete is a very important material in the construction of buildings and sewer systems. Unfortunately it is very carbon intensive to produce. Concrete alone accounts for approximately 8% of the world’s carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere.
Metal Metal is another important construction material, and along with concrete is one of our biggest sources of capital carbon emissions. These emissions come from mining the ore from the ground, shipping it to the factory and turning it into a material we can use.
Fuels The equipment and vehicles our partners and ourselves use are mostly run on fossil fuels like diesel. We are moving towards low-carbon and zero-carbon technologies to lower these emissions.

Land Emissions

The land we own can deteriorate and release greenhouse gases. 


Peatland Peat is formed from decaying vegetation and organic matter. If it's left to deteriorate it can release a lot of carbon dioxide, but if it's well-maintained it can absorb it.
Moorland Moorlands emit as much carbon dioxide as peatlands, but they do still contribute to our land emissions.
Agricultural Land Agricultural land, particularly pastoral land used for farming, is another contributor to our land emissions.
Woodland Woodlands, along with peatlands, are a fantastic way to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. We are currently in the process of an ambitious project to plant one million new trees by 2028!