McLaren: Director of Sustainability Kim Wilson explains team's upcoming goals and push for more environmental awareness

Earlier this week, we travelled to McLaren’s Technology Centre in Woking to take a look at the new liveries for their Extreme E and Formula E entries and also to speak to Kim Wilson, the group’s Director of Sustainability.

Having joined towards the end of 2021, Kim has led McLaren to produce a first-of-its-kind in motorsport sustainability report, which shows what McLaren are doing with their aims to play their part in the fight for the climate, and also what they aim to do in the future.

At the event, Kim spoke to Give Me Sport’s George Dagless among the reporters to discuss some of the key topics to come from the report:

First of all, Kim, what are your goals for the next 12 months on the back of the report ahead of next years?

“In the report, we talked about our four pillars. So if I go through each of those: In terms of net zero, we signed up to the science based targets initiative.

“Now, that’s a commitment, we’ve got to get our targets validated. And so that’s a really big goal for us to say, a third party has said, ‘yes, we’re on the right track to playing our part in reducing our emissions towards a 1.5 degree world.’

“In terms of circular economy, there are two things that I really want to achieve. One is to get a project off the ground that is really now starting to address our ambition of a fully circular Formula One car coming in 2030. So that at the moment is a concept, we’ve got to get that going, and that will involve partnerships that will involve all sorts of research and development, and it’s a long-term goal.

“The other thing under circular economy is we have a good handle of our waste data. But we still have more work to do. And we need to do that end to end audit of where we can do better in terms of not just not sending waste to landfill, which we’ve achieved since 2016, which is great, but also how do we create more circular groups with materials and experiment more with alternative materials, particularly around the competence area?

“In terms of diversity, I think it’s continuing on the path that we are on with our STEM programmes and with McLaren Racing Engage. And a big part of that is also extending that into the US for our IndyCar team.

“And then in terms of health and well-being, we think we’ve got a good programme in place, but we really do want to get that externally validated. So that’s where we are looking to get that validation from a mental health perspective by signing up to the Workplace Well-Being Index and getting that benchmark done.”

Formula 1 has stated aims of being Net Zero Carbon by 2030, how much collaboration with the sport and the other teams does McLaren have on this issue?

“We’re absolutely supportive of Formula One, and we’re working hand in hand with them, in terms of both of us having fully committed to playing our part in taking climate action and achieving zero. We have slightly different scope and boundaries. So for us as we’re looking at it from a wider organisation than just Formula One, whereas they’re looking at it from the one management perspective.

“We very much overlap on certain topics. We’re working together, particularly on freight, and logistics, because that’s where we overlap. We are fully committed to reducing our emissions on things like our factory, our buildings, and the areas that are within our common scope and we have a sustainability forum that all the teams are part of and we meet on a monthly basis.

“We’re wanting to publish a sustainability report that is trying to hold ourselves to the highest standards. And you will have seen in the report that also I personally said I would love to collaborate with the other teams and put competition aside because if we work together on sustainability, then we raise the bar and everybody wins.”

Do you expect more Director of Sustainability to be appointed in F1 teams?

“So yeah, I am the first director of sustainability to be appointed with a Formula One team, and I really hope that others will follow. The point is not to have, you know, a big team because I think this is about embedding it into the culture and making sustainability part of everyone’s job. I often joke that my mark of success is when I’m not needed anymore!

“But in the same way that a lot of organisations have a central HR team or a central safety team, there is somebody who needs to continually drive the agenda forward.

“I think the other area, of course, is having real expertise in diversity, equality and inclusion, what I would say is that the way we look at sustainability within car racing as three pillars; social, economic, and environment.

“I think the sweet spot is when you’ve got somebody who’s looking at the holistic agenda, because our economic performance of our team and of all motorsport teams is completely reliant on the social environmental sustainability agendas, and when you can bring them all together I think that’s when you’re successful.”

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