Civic Enterprise Leeds (CEL) developing services during a pandemic to support the climate emergency


To help deliver the council’s aim of becoming carbon neutral by 2030 to combat climate change. This is being delivered through the increased use of electric vehicles now travelling over 150,000 miles a year sustainably along with efficiency reviews of all services to reduce waste.


Following Leeds City Council’s declaration of a climate emergency in March 2019, CEL has become a key partner in delivering necessary changes to tackle climate change and achieve the carbon neutral target.

What has been delivered?

As business plans developed to meet new needs we continued to incorporate the climate emergency and adjust provision where possible. We also continued to work on delivering our targets in line with this as soon as businesses had been adjusted and were running effectively. Over the past 12 months:

  • Fleet Services continues to expand the Green Fleet of council vehicles. There are now 333 electric vehicles in place and increased electric charging points in council locations.
  • EV infrastructure – we have installed 89 home charges for LCC staff who have access to an electric LCC vehicle. 95 EV charging points installed across 10 council depots.
  • Electric and hybrid HGV’s are being explored by Fleet Services as the next development step.
  • Feasibility study has commenced in relation to green diesel within the fleet.
  • Presto ‘Meals at Home’ adapted their operation to move away from mobile chef diesel vehicles to a more sustainable fleet of electric vehicles. This involved investment in cooking equipment, training staff in new ways of working and a full ‘route review’ to ensure journeys are efficient with mileage cut. These changes have made a real difference to the carbon footprint of the operation with journeys totalling over 150,000 miles a year now conducted in electric vehicles at no detriment to service users.
  • Route reviews and investment in planning tools have taken place or are planned in services such as passenger transport and Leeds Building Services. This has already significantly reduced trips, vehicles required and overall miles travelled.
  • In-sourced confidential waste has added very few additional miles travelled across the city as these are managed alongside existing regular site visits.
  • The in-sourcing of waste contracts took place in January 2020. This saw a change in approach to waste management with bin lifts completed as needed, as opposed to a standard frequency when part-filled are picked up as a matter of course. This has reduced trips by 25% or circa 11,000 trips per year.
  • Cleaning/facilities management utilise donations from tenants and void properties which are to a good standard, arranging collection and delivery to six key charities within the city, reducing landfill and allowing items to be reused.
  • All aspects of LBS partnered designs incorporate sustainable ethos’ planned into projects from the earliest planning stages and focusing on key areas such as lifecycle embodied energy.
  • CEL committed to zero waste on food by redirecting over two and a half thousand sandwiches to NHS staff working under extreme pressures during the initial weeks of the pandemic.
  • Catering Leeds has continued to work on their ‘Planet Friendly’ menus for schools. This includes:
  • Working with local suppliers to reduce unnecessary food miles and making the most of seasonally available fruit and vegetables and embedding these into our menus
  • A meat balancing programme - adjusted menus typically now include two meat-free days per week. In addition, our meat-based dishes have smaller proportions of meat which are balanced out with plant based proteins such as pulses and grains which are working well.
  • Investment in equipment rather than using disposable dishes. Where disposables are essential for food safety or Covid requirements, we have introduced compostable options instead.

What was the impact/next steps ?

All the above activity continues to support the development of service, the education of our workforce and the overall council aim of being carbon neutral by 2030.