Protecting the Environment

Energy efficiency and climate change

Whilst Oxford Instruments has a low impact on the environment with a relatively low carbon footprint, chemical and water use, we recognise the need for all businesses to be mindful of the effect they have on climate change and the planet.

Our overall policy is to minimise the environmental footprint of our operations, products and services. Our efforts are focused on more efficient energy use, with various other initiatives in place to help reduce our carbon footprint. We are currently preparing plans to meet net zero carbon by 2050.

Each site has an energy champion who is responsible for monitoring energy use, waste streams, recycling and emissions to air, water and land. They also look for innovative ways to improve our environmental footprint.

Current initiatives include energy reduction, improving local wildlife habitats by installing beehives and bird boxes and giving staff wildflower seed balls as gifts. We now offer more seasonal food with lower food miles in our canteens, have removed single-use plastics and continue to install electric car charging points at our sites. 

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions

Oxford Instruments is a global business with operations in many parts of the world. Energy consumption from 14 Company sites was monitored and forms the basis of the figures and calculations shown below. Some small sales offices where energy is less than 0.01% of the Group's total energy consumption are omitted.

The use of hydro-fluorocarbons was also monitored but the level fell below  5kg and has therefore been excluded. Emission equivalents from purchased electricity and fuel for heating or process purposes (gas and oil) are reported in tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e).

Oxford Instruments consumed a total of 11.67 GWh of energy globally during 2019/20. This figure consisted of 10.125 GWh of electricity (2018/19: 12.57 GWh), 1.032 GWh of gas (2018/19: 1.01 GWh) and 0.512 GWh of oil (2018/19: 0.5 GWh). As OI Healthcare was disposed of during the year, their consumption of 2.15 GWh of electricity has been removed from the overall figures.

The Company's chosen energy intensity measure is MWh of energy per £m of revenue. Using the above figures and revenue of £317.4m then intensity measure is as follows:

The energy intensity measure was 36.77 MWh/£m revenue (2018/19: 42.21 MWh/£m).

The Group global carbon footprint for 2019/20 was reduced to 5,382.6 tCO2e from 6,835.2 tCO2e in the previous year. However, the removal of OI Healthcare energy consumption and a reduction of GHG conversion factors for electricity from 0.2886 kg/kWh to 0.2556 kg/kWh accounted for the majority of this reduction. Energy consumption for ongoing businesses was generally flat during the year.

The Government closed the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRC) on 31 March 2019. This was superseded by the Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) regulations, which came into force from 1 April 2019. The cost of carbon compliance has been transferred to our energy bills via an increased in the Climate Change Levy. The cost burden of the above change will be neutral to the business.

SECR responsibility and methodology

The Group Health, Safety and Environment Manager is responsible for collating energy data, on a monthly basis, and reporting to the Management Board and the Oxford Instruments Board on an annual basis. He is further responsible for compiling the SECR report to submit to senior management for sign off. Data collected for compiling the SECR report is gathered by various methods, including:

  • submetering;
  • direct meter readings; and
  • direct readings from energy bills.

With regard to t carbon equivalence, the 2019 GHG conversion factors have been used:

  • Purchased grid electricity = 0.2556 kg/kWh
  • Natural gas consumption = 018385 kg/kWh
  • Gas oil consumption = 0.25676 kg/kWh


SECR carbon intensity measure from energy use

Oxford Instruments has a statutory duty to report greenhouse gas emissions as tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e). The Company's chosen carbon intensity measure for energy use is tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) per £m of revenue.

The data from the SECR report for 2019/20 gives an emissions ratio for energy of 9.17 tCO2e/£m of revenue. The UK Companies Act 2006 (Strategic Report and Directors' Report) Regulations require the SECR report to be included as part of the Directors' Report in the Report and Financial Statements. This year's Report and Financial Statement can be accessed here.

ESOS Phase 2

Under the Energy Saving Opportunities Scheme (ESOS) Phase 2, the Company was subject to an external audit of energy use and we were required to submit a report to the Environmental Agency by December 2019. An external audit took place at our NanoScience and Andor Technology businesses during November. The resulting report recommended a number of energy efficiency measures that could be adopted by the relevant businesses and these will form the basis of our energy efficiency measures for the next financial year. This report was submitted to the Environment Agency before the deadline and was accepted.

The ESOS report recommended a large number of improvements that could be implemented to reduce our carbon footprint still further. These will be considered and implemented where appropriate during the current financial year. A few examples include:

  • replace HVAC chiller and add free cooling element;
  • fit destratification fans in the production area;
  • improve compressed air management;
  • fit sub-meters to all sites for improved energy management; and
  • replace fluorescent lighting with more efficient LED lighting.

Beyond ESOS - net zero carbon by 2050

Our CEO is taking a keen interest in climate change and has raised the question as to how the business can move towards net zero carbon by 2050. During the year we have taken a proactive approach to the question and engaged an energy consultancy to assess energy efficiency at our large manufacturing facilities and propose improvements that will move us towards the 2050 goal. 

Their report recommends ways that we can make more efficient use of energy and where we can reduce our impact by implementing carbon-free power such as solar PV, wind power and ground source heat pumps. In addition, they have provided recommendations that will enable us to build low carbon facilities in the future. The ideas will be reviewed during the coming year with a view to preparing a 2050 net zero carbon plan. 

Our biggest environmental impact after energy is transport.


Air travel

We reduced the amount of air travel by 450,000 km during the year, but this is one area where we could make further improvements with the use of technology.

All our businesses have trained service engineers in the use of virtual support tools that enable remote diagnostics and repair of our systems to help our customers resolve problems without having an engineer travel to fix the problem. The coronavirus outbreak has led to much more innovation in relation to services, training and sales webinars. 

Andor Technology saw 3,000 users and potential customers attend one of their webinars. As we move into our global recovery phase following the covid-19 pandemic we are looking at all the ways we can use the new skills and capabilities  we have developed to engage with and support our customers without the need to travel, thereby reducing our environmental impact. 

Car fuel

The car fuel figures are drawn from fuel card and business mileage expense claim records.

These figures are higher than the previous year as they now contain fuel equivalent to the total mileage claims received via expense claims for the first time, in addition to the fuel from fuel cards.

The Group complies with all environmental legislation in countries where it operates. This includes European Directives such as:

  • Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE) Directive - compliance achieved in the UK by membership of B2B Compliance - an authorised compliance body. Other compliance bodies are contracted for our European operations.
  • Restriction on use of certain Hazardous Substances (RoHS) regulations - all products that were within scope and were sold into Europe since July 2017 complied with these regulations. Some of our products are outside of the RoHS scope or are covered by exemptions.
  • Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation of Chemicals (REACh) Directive. All sites are working towards compliance via their supply chains. 
  • European Waste Framework Directive. This requires the Company to enter data on parts and products that may contain Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) into a new database being set up by the European Chemical Agency (ECHA). This is known as the SCIP database and compliance is required by 5 January 2021. Sites are currently engaged in determining the best route to compliance by the deadline.

We aim to minimise our waste outputs and ensure that as little as possible goes to landfill. Several of our sites are now "zero waste to landfill" where waste is recycled either directly, e.g. cardboard, metals, wood and paper, or indirectly for non-recyclable general waste, which is sent to waste incinerator sites where it can be burned to produce energy.