Reducing our impact on the environment
At SNCF, we’re working to reduce the environmental impact of our operations. Key efforts include:
- bringing our facilities into compliance with environmental standards
- reducing inputs, pollution and nuisances
- consuming less energy and raw materials
- protecting biodiversity
Little by little, a network of environmental advocates has emerged within our business units. We’re professionalizing their role through an environmental management training programme that increases their awareness of key issues.
To reduce our environmental impact, we’ve made major commitments in three areas: working to preserve the climate and promote the energy transition, containing our environmental footprint, and growing the circular economy.
Key action areas
With 30,000 km of track, 3,029 stations and some 50 industrial facilities, SNCF interacts directly with a wide range of ecosystems. For years we’ve worked to understand how our presence affects biodiversity so we can do a better job of preserving it, in areas ranging from maintenance to employee training to keeping vegetation healthy.
For years, we’ve been lowering noise levels for our customers, our employees, and local communities. Efforts include limiting and reducing noise from infrastructure, rolling stock, stations, fixed installations and industrial processes such as track works. We’re also working to improve passenger perceptions and make our trains more comfortable inside.
Preserving water and soil quality
We’re committed to conserving water by reducing:
- water consumption
- pollution from maintenance workshops and other industrial activities
- the impact of development and rail infrastructure projects that pass through aquatic environments
In September 2016 we formalized this commitment by approving a new water policy that sets goals for 2020.
Improving indoor air quality
We’ve launched a programme to improve air quality inside stations by taking measurements in 25 different facilities. We’ll collect data through 2018, and once our understanding is complete, we’ll begin considering new solutions, including high-performance ventilation systems.
A new credo
Since the end of 2013, SNCF has adopted the principles of the circular economy: better design, less consumption and better recycling.
We’re also applying these concepts to waste management by recycling workwear, recovering waste from stations and trains, and recycling infrastructure components such as rails, sleepers and ballast.
What is the circular economy?
A circular economy works like a natural ecosystem: nothing is lost and everything is transformed. Its primary aim is to conserve resources—by ecodesigning goods and services, recycling materials and more—and limit waste, especially in industry.
Making a difference
As part of our circular economy policy, we’ve launched a number of initiatives that are already achieving measurable successes:
- our paper plan calls for cutting paper consumption by 30% between 2015 and 2017, with gradual introduction of recycled paper at all SNCF sites
- by reclaiming rails, sleepers, ballast and other discarded components, we’re securing our supplies of raw materials and developing high-quality “downstream” channels
- we’re recycling electrical products and electronics through partnerships with several environmental organizations and entities in the social and socially responsible economy.