Vaultex’s Grass Roots Environmental Innovation: Green Path

Project Owner: Vaultex UK

Between 2015 and 2019, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) at Vaultex enjoyed rapid growth due to dedicated resource and investment. By 2019 we hit a plateau, we had expanded to a 5 pillar strategy and felt the big ticket items had been achieved. So we launched our Green Path campaign – a people focused initiative aimed at finding new ways to make a positive environmental impact whilst up-skilling our people through involvement, increasing employee engagement and improving our processes. Who better to suggest improvements than the experts that handle our materials day-in, day-out?

The Green Path campaign was launched as a competition with three categories; land, plastic and sea to align with the UN sustainable development goals, in which our people could win holiday time or gift vouchers if their idea could be implemented. We had 60 entries – so it was impossible to choose just one winner per category! The Green Path campaign is now in its third cycle and a dedicated team has been assembled to ensure effective implementation of ideas throughout the business.

So far, we have implemented around 20 different initiatives – the most successful of which we’ll report here. From those initiatives we’ve been able to find and implement reusable alternatives for plastic bags and seals, enhance our processes to reduce paper and energy consumption and reduce nationwide note wrapper consumption by working with one of our partner banks.

In regulated industries like ours it is sometimes difficult to open a forum for change when we are limited as to what we can change. It may sometimes become easier not to open forums, to avoid the eventuality that we have to say ‘no’ due to factors beyond our control; as that can naturally lead to disappointment and disengagement for our people.

For Vaultex, this was the first time we’ve started an open conversation around improving our processes on such a wide scale – every single employee was invited to contribute and no idea was off the table. Improving our environmental impact is a board level focus and since our signing of the UK Cash Industry Environmental Charter in January 2021, one which we’ve been collaborating on at an industry level. Our people are seeing their ideas go from a small spark at floor level to lighting fires across the industry.

    • We reduced the amount of waste going to landfill by 13% over two years by switching our strategy from attempting to recycle increasingly unmarketable plastic, to sending it to specialist plastic processing plants who could repurpose it.
    • We reduced our energy consumption by 32% over four years by significant investment in a Building Energy Management system allowing us to pinpoint areas of high consumption with real time data and make appropriate behaviour changes across our operational footprint
    • Written into all policies was that all coin route documentation data should be kept for seven years based on previous interpretations of data protection regulations. To overcome online storage restrictions, we reduced storage requirements from 7 years to 1 year, then created a bespoke IT solution moving from paper storage to online without creating FTE requirement.
    • Moved from plastic seals to secure cashier workstations, to padlocks. Saving 2.6 tonnes of plastic per year
    • As a result of Green Path, since 12th July 2021 all of one product type belonging to one of our partner banks have been without plastic coated note wrappers. The result has been the saving of 4.14 million note wrappers per year.
    • Every time a Vaultex cashier moves away from their workstation they must ensure their cash is secure. As part of the Green Path initiative, many cashiers reported the significant number of plastic seals used in a day and the need for a better solution. Vaultex has invested in numerical padlocks for every cash processor. This apparently small internal change has made a massive impact saving 430,000 single use plastic seals a year, equating to 2.6 tonnes of plastic. Aside from the significant environmental benefit of the change, it also saved Vaultex an average of £15,000 a year – money that can now be reinvested back into environmental initiatives.
    • Vaultex’s internal processes used a significant number of single use plastic bags for workstation coins. The bags would be sealed, transferred from the cash centres to their accompanying coin departments, opened and emptied before being thrown away. One Green Path idea suggested introducing a reusable cloth coin bag for these internal transfers. The change, which was implemented in August 2020, has resulted in a saving of 215,500 single use plastic bags a year, equating to 3.75 tonnes of plastic
    • Another idea was to utilise the ‘scan-to-file’ printer function for coin route sheet instead of printing them off. After an initial trial period this approach was rolled this out to all sites in January 2021 saving 25,000 sheets of A4 paper a year.
    • A Team Leader at Kings Cross, suggested removing the second ATM countback stickers which has now led to a reduction in the number of stickers of 619,000 a year.
    • A Woolston supervisor suggested removing multiple automatic print-outs that were subsequently shredded or disposed of. The initiative reduced how much paper, ink and energy was used by the printers.
    • Another idea implemented was our move to natural rubber bands which degrade faster. Vaultex are currently exploring the possibility of a recycling scheme in which our partner banks return rubber bands for reuse, so elastic bands are continuously reused in a loop.
    • We’re proud to have maintained a zero to landfill approach for all our IT & Telephony equipment since 2016. However in 2021 during the pandemic and as a result of Green Path, we began working with Revive-IT to repurpose our old equipment to provide people in local social mobility coldspots much needed access to resources for home-schooling.


Awards | Currency Awards 2022


Best New Innovation (Banknotes or Coin)


Finalist | Nominee | Winner