Proactive engagement with our portfolio

Once invested, we use our influence with portfolio companies with a view to ensuring, over the life of the investment, that they have a proportionate sustainability strategy in place. This involves:

  • board or management-level responsibility and appropriate governance and reporting structures to manage ESG risks and opportunities that may impact their business over
    the holding period;
  • considering the ESG and sustainability factors that have the potential to impact their business on a regular basis;
  • measuring their carbon footprint (Scope 1 and 2 at a minimum) and considering appropriate reduction targets;
  • ensuring they are well prepared to meet regulatory requirements; and
  • considering all stakeholders in their management of ESG and sustainability issues and communicate transparently.

We also leverage our knowledge and expertise across our portfolio and facilitate the sharing of best practice, either through relevant introductions, or through thematic forums, such as the plastics, carbon and CIO roundtables we held for our portfolio companies in 2019, 2021 and 2023.

In addition, ESG is frequently on the agenda of portfolio events, such as our biennial CEO and chair forums, where it is addressed through expert presentations or panel discussions involving portfolio company management teams. For example, ESG was a key agenda item at our portfolio company CEO and chair forum in October 2022, where five portfolio company CEOs from across the Private Equity and Infrastructure portfolios shared their experiences and the benefits of embedding sustainability into their operations.

In the case studies that follow, we show examples of how we have engaged with portfolio companies and supported their actions across a number of material ESG themes.


of portfolio companies with board or management team specific responsibility for ESG management and compliance1


of portfolio companies publish sustainability reports1
  1 Excluding PPP project investments and some legacy minority and other minority investments where we have limited influence. 


Proactive engagement with our portfolio


Action, our largest portfolio company, is a pan-European non-food discount retailer with over 2,250 stores in 11 countries. Sustainability is an integral aspect of Action’s strategy. It is committed to making sustainability accessible for everyone by continually investing to improve the quality and sustainability of its products and stores.

Action’s Sustainability Programme is structured around the four pillars of people, planet, product and partnership, each with clear and measurable KPIs and targets. We highlight below the progress Action has made on some of its priorities.

Progress on material topic: GHG emissions reduction

Key commitments Progress to 2022
60% reduction in Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2030 (2021 baseline)
  • 40% reduction in Scope 1 and 2 emissions in 2022 compared to 2021
  • 85% of stores disconnected from gas grid
  • 90% of electricity used or consumed from renewable sources
  • 95% of stores fitted with LED lights

Action is committed to reducing the absolute emissions from its own operations and to decreasing the impact the company has on the environment. In support of this, it has set an ambitious reduction target with several initiatives underway, including disconnecting its store base from the gas grid, installing solar panels on some distribution centres and stores, procuring electricity from renewable sources, as well as various other energy efficiency measures, such as the installation of LED lights in stores.

Action is also working to reduce the emissions associated with its logistics and delivered a 13% reduction in transportation emissions from its own trucks in 2022, driven primarily by piloting the use of biofuels. In 2023, Action will take this further by piloting the use of electric trucks. The company has entered into a collaboration with key logistics partner Maersk to lower the emissions of its sea freight operations through Maersk’s ECO Delivery programme, which involves the replacement of fossil fuels with ISCC certified green fuels. This will result in the reduction of Action’s Scope 3 emissions by an estimated 29,000 tonnes of CO2 in the current calendar year.

Importantly, Action is in the process of calculating its Scope 3 emissions to determine future targets and reduction strategies throughout the value chain.

Progress on material topic: responsible sourcing

Key commitments

Progress to 2022
100% sustainably sourced cotton by 2023
  • 90% of cotton sustainably sourced (BCI/organic/recycled)
100% sustainably sourced cocoa for private label products by 2023
  • 100% of own brand chocolate sourced with Fairtrade cocoa
100% sustainably sourced timber by 2024
  • 92% of timber products sustainably sourced (FSC/PEFC)
100% private label and white label Tier 1 supply chain transparency by 2025
  • Launched partnership with ImpactBuying to improve supply chain transparency across product categories
  • Engaged the consultancy firm Enact to assess and improve supplier due diligence practices
  • 100% private label product transparency (Tier 1 suppliers) achieved in 2022
  • 98% of direct import factories in high-risk countries assessed on social impacts through social audits and spot checks
  • Piloted the amfori BEPI assessment

Action has a global supply chain and is committed to sourcing its products responsibly with consideration for the environment, human and labour rights. The company uses a number of tools to achieve this ambition, including:

  • an ethical sourcing policy, accepted by suppliers and which is built upon recognised international frameworks;
  • responsible sourcing policies for timber products, cotton, cocoa, chemicals, plastics and packaging, implemented through third-party certification with partners such as FSC, Better Cotton and Fairtrade; and
  • robust due diligence procedures on suppliers and factories, including a programme of social audits and spot checks applied to direct import suppliers, which can result in remediation actions or in the termination of supplier relationships.

Progress on material topic: product circularity and sustainable packaging

Key commitments Progress to 2022
100% recyclable packaging by 2025 (excluding A-brands)
25% weight reduction target for the primary packaging of its fixed assortment (private and white label products) by 2025 (from 2019 baseline)
  • Completed circularity baseline assessments for all 14 product categories
  • Improved 10 category scores from original baselines
  • Currently assessing a product circularity goal
  • 100% of private label packaging recyclable (no PVC or black plastics)
  • Launched sustainable packaging policy to aid buyers in purchasing decisions

Action strives to improve product circularity, which is managed per product category. It has completed circular baseline assessments for each of its 14 product categories and set targets to improve
the circularity scoring of each of these.

Its Buying and Quality teams have been supported by Circle Economy, a circularity specialist, to improve their awareness and implementation of circularity through product sourcing. Action has also implemented policies for unsold and damaged goods which are separated into resaleable products or waste, which is separated and re-used where possible.

The company also aims to mitigate the negative impact caused by pollution from packaging by increasing the use of renewable materials, reducing the weight and improving the recyclability
of packaging. Action’s commitments on these topics are set out in the table above.


TCR is an independent lessor of airport ground support equipment (‘GSE’) and operates at over 180 airports across the world. It aims to ensure that the equipment rented to its customers at airports is available and in good working condition to fulfil its mission: securing swift, on-time, safe and efficient ground handling operations whilst reducing costs for its customers and its environmental impact.

TCR identified GHG emissions and health and safety as the two most relevant ESG issues in a materiality assessment carried out in 2019. The outcome of this survey shaped TCR’s sustainability strategy which was developed in 2021 and is now fully embedded within the organisation.

Progress on material topic: GHG emissions reduction

TCR determined that nearly two thirds of its carbon footprint in 2021 was linked to the utilisation of GSE by its customers, or the fuel combustion of GSE it rents out. TCR focused its efforts on supporting its customers in reducing GHG emissions from the utilisation of its fleet by:

  • optimising the use of GSE, eg reduction of idle running and use of telematics;
  • optimising the fleet size, eg ‘pooling’ projects to share equipment between customers; and
  • encouraging the procurement of green GSE and converting existing diesel GSE to alternative energy sources.

To encourage its customers to adopt green GSE, TCR proposes and procures alternative low-carbon equipment wherever possible, particularly on GSE categories identified as high emitting (such as buses, ground power units and pushback tractors).

It is helping customers in implementing electric GSE replacement plans where airport charging infrastructure allows, and working on a diesel-to-electric GSE conversion strategy where replacement is not feasible. TCR’s objective is for 60% of new GSE capex investments to be green by 2030 (vs 22% today).

Progress on material topic: health and safety

TCR monitors health and safety performance on a monthly basis and has seen a decreasing incident trend since 3i Infrastructure plc’s initial investment in 2016. In the early years of its ownership, 3i ensured TCR’s management made safety a priority for the business, requesting increased resources, improved reporting and safety to be discussed first at each board meeting. Safety gradually became part of the company’s culture and embedded into the organisation. The health and safety management at TCR became more proactive, with the introduction of additional training, inspections and monitoring of leading indicators at regional and country level.

Safety remains an important topic of attention. In 2021 the business launched quarterly group safety newsletters, participated in international safety campaigns, ran a group-wide campaign with regards to tyre handling, organised internal awareness initiatives and implemented a new occupational health and safety management platform with additional functionality to further reduce incidents in the workplace.

This was supplemented in 2022 with the launch of the ‘TCR Academy’, an online tool which includes resources on safety standards, as well as with a campaign to promote increased safety awareness among employees.

TCR has also established a set of standards and processes to ensure the safety of its customers’ employees, from GSE procurement, where the highest specification standards are chosen, through to operations, where training programmes are provided to end users, and maintenance, where assets are being maintained properly, in time and to the highest standards. TCR is also ensuring its customers have the tools to report any defect or safety issue in the most efficient way possible.


Evernex is the European leader in third-party IT infrastructure maintenance, providing services to over 10,000 customers globally by supporting critical IT systems used in data centres such as servers, storage and network hardware. The service model offers a circular IT solution incorporating the principles of repair, reuse and recycling by extending equipment life by up to 15 years, refurbishing spare parts for reuse and offering a WEEE (Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment) compliant recycling service to prevent end-of-life equipment from becoming landfill waste.

Eighty percent of equipment’s lifetime emissions come from the manufacturing process. Evernex supports its customers to reduce waste and their carbon footprint while reducing opex and capex, by managing the lifecycle of their existing equipment. In 2021, the company provided service to nearly 360,000 assets worldwide and prevented the emission of c.114,000 tCO2e by delaying or avoiding equipment upgrades.

Progress on material topic: circular spare parts and recycling

Evernex buys and refurbishes second- hand parts and reuses components where possible, enabling the company to act as a worldwide broker of refurbished spares, including parts that are no longer available from the original manufacturer. Currently, 30% of the components received by Evernex as ’IT waste’ are reused, representing more than 142,000 spare parts and more than 6,000 servers put back in service every year.

The remaining 70% contains valuable minerals such as steel and ores which are separated into secondary raw materials which re-enter the production cycle. Overall, 95% of computer equipment waste received by the company is recycled (500 tonnes). The company has over 330 stocking locations and 850,000 IT parts in stock globally, ensuring that customers have access to the spare parts they need locally, with minimal carbon impact from delivery. Shipments from the warehouse to stocking locations are grouped as much as possible to enable both efficiency and reduced environmental impact.

To support future growth in its recycling activities, in October 2022 Evernex opened a new 6,000m2 facility in Mitry-Compans, France. The opening of this facility, the largest reconditioning and recycling site for second-hand parts in EMEA, represents a key pillar of the company’s strategy by significantly increasing capacity for future recycling. Spare part processing capacity has potential to increase by 30%, while storage capacity will also increase by 40%.

As well as increasing capacity for recycling, a key objective of the new site was to create a positive environment for employees by improving working and safety conditions, enabling both performance and creativity of employees, and supporting the development of a strong corporate culture. A multi-functional project team conducted a review of each step in the production process to determine improvement opportunities, with changes implemented to improve efficiency and/or safety. One example included designing bespoke movable workstations which enable employees to safely assemble and move heavy equipment, eliminating any requirement for technicians to lift and carry products across the facility themselves.

Progress on material topic: GHG emissions reduction

Evernex was selected by ADEME, the French Agency for Ecological Transition, to join a three-year programme to establish a climate strategy, transition plan and decarbonisation roadmap. In 2022 the company completed the first year of the ‘ACT’ – Assessing Low Carbon Transition programme which involved establishing a full baseline and conducting an initial maturity assessment. This assessment demonstrated that most of Evernex’s emissions are derived from Scope 3 and over 90% result from the supply chain, sourcing and delivering materials, and shipping parts to customers. Analysis also demonstrated the benefits of Evernex’s reliance on second-hand spare parts, leading to 6,570 tCO2e of avoided emissions compared to buying new ones.

Currently in the second year of the ACT programme, Evernex is training its executive committee, building a reduction trajectory and action plan to achieve it, and establishing ongoing carbon performance KPIs in line with external frameworks which include TCFD, CDP and the SBTi.

Evernex’s customers are provided with Carbon Footprint Reduction certificates to raise awareness of the decarbonisation benefits provided through the Sustainable IT maintenance programme.

Audley Travel

Founded in 1996, Audley is the UK market leader in tailor- made travel. Since 3i invested it has made significant progress in developing its approach to sustainability. Progress on material topic: GHG emissions reduction Audley has taken steps to assess and reduce its corporate carbon footprint over many years, for example by moving all offices to renewable energy tariffs, reducing energy consumption, and installing electric car charging points and solar panels at its headquarters.

Progress on material topic: GHG emissions reduction

Audley has taken steps to assess and reduce its corporate carbon footprint over many years, for example by moving all offices to renewable energy tariffs, reducing energy consumption, and installing electric car charging points and solar panels at its headquarters.

As a result the company was able to deliver a c.50% reduction in Scope 1 and c.83% reduction in Scope 2 emissions between 2019 and 2022.

In 2022 Audley measured its Scope 3 emissions associated with client trips, including an assessment of the total distance travelled and hotel stays in each location.

Audley has used this data to identify ways to reduce its Scope 3 intensity, and has set a goal to reduce the carbon footprint of its trips on a per person per day basis. It intends to achieve this by working with local partners to identify changes including the use of more electric vehicles for transfers, and supporting accommodation and cruise providers to explore ways to reduce their emissions. Audley also continues to engage with its airline partners on their emissions reduction plans.

Audley submitted a commitment letter to the SBTi at the end of 2022. It has been awarded the silver World Responsible Tourism award for ‘Decarbonising Travel and Tourism’ in acknowledgement of its efforts to date.

Progress on material topic: responsible travel

Audley appointed a dedicated Responsible Travel and Sustainability Manager in 2019. When creating experiences, the company prefers to work with local partners where possible and offer small boutique hotels and unique local tours, leaving much-needed income within destination countries.

In addition to focusing on local experiences, Audley has taken further steps to identify experiences and accommodation that put a purposeful focus on supporting local businesses, educating staff, challenging local norms or promoting conservation and biodiversity efforts.

Any experience identified must be leading the way in the community, not just meeting a local minimum standard. By clearly identifying these accommodations and tour options, Audley can offer clients sustainable choices and allow them to make a positive contribution to the local environment or local community as part of their trip. In 2022 over 100 experiences were highlighted and Audley plans to identify at least 100 more in 2023.


Scandlines operates ferry services between Germany and Denmark, along two routes: Puttgarden-Rødby and Rostock-Gedser. Its ferry fleet includes six hybrid ferries and a freight ferry which also acts as a replacement ferry when required. In 2021, Scandlines set an ambitious target of achieving zero Scope 1 and 2 emissions on its Puttgarden-Rødby route by 2030, and on the Rostock-Gedser route and other parts of the business by 2040. It has identified environmental protection, health and safety, people and a healthy supply chain among its sustainability priorities.

Progress on material topic: GHG emissions reduction and environmental protection

Scandlines has invested significantly toward its zero direct emission vision and expects green investments to total approximately €400 million in the period from 2013 to 2024.

The four passenger ferries it operates on its Puttgarden-Rødby route were converted to hybrid ferries in 2013/14. They have now all been equipped with new thrusters, reducing CO2 emissions further and bringing down noise levels, thereby improving conditions for marine life.

The two ferries it operates on its Rostock-Gedser route were built as hybrid ferries in 2016. These newer ferries were tailor-made for the route to optimise for shallow waters and to reduce fuel consumption.

A rotor sail was installed on both ferries in 2020 and 2022 respectively, introducing wind power technology and further reducing emissions. With these ferries, fuel consumption can be reduced by two thirds per trip, per car, compared to previous ferries.

As a key step towards its net zero vision, in 2021 Scandlines ordered a new zero direct-emissions freight ferry which is expected to be commissioned on the Puttgarden-Rødby route in 2024.

Additionally, Scandlines switched all land-based electricity contracts to renewable sources in 2021, reducing the CO2 footprint of the business by more than 1,800 tonnes, and installed 34 additional charging stations for electric and hybrid cars at all its ports.

During 2022, Scandlines increased its efforts to improve emission calculations. Scandlines established its Scope 3 emission inventory confirming that purchased goods and services as well as fuel and energy-related emissions comprise most of the indirect emissions. Further, Scandlines has partnered with Reflow, a Danish climate tech start-up, to use its cutting-edge technology to produce a lifecycle assessment of the new ferry. This will allow Scandlines to run simulations of green technology so that it can develop and improve the design in the future.

Scandlines estimates that various initiatives it has implemented since 2019 have allowed it to reduce CO2 emissions by 12% per trip.

Latest Sustainability report

Sustainability section extract from 3i Group plc annual report and accounts 2024

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Hear from our portfolio companies on how we have supported them in their sustainability initiatives, from sign-posting best practice to connecting them to partners.

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