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Climate conscious pensions: the next step in our green ambition

Earlier this year we chose to switch to a new pension platform, allowing our team to choose from a wide option of green pension plans. We explore the lack of ethical transparency offered by standard pension plans, and how we can make a difference.


We are all investors in the global economy. Most of us make monthly pension investments throughout our lives. While that money waits for us to retire, it is used to fuel growth and investment across the economy.

Yet there is often a lack of transparency over what investments make up a pension fund’s portfolio.

Image of trees growing on stacks of coins
Earlier this year we switched to a self-invested personal pension plan for more climate-friendly finances

In addition to supporting global climate action through our work, our green ambition sets out Itad’s plan to reduce our own environmental impact. Since forming in 2019, our Green Team has grown from grass roots initiatives such as office swap shops and meat-free lunches to achieving carbon neutrality for Itad in 2021.

Read the blog: How Earthly is helping Itad go carbon neutral

Unhappy with the inability to ensure our pension plans aligned with our green ambition, the Green Team led Itad’s collective decision to switch to AGEON’s Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP). The SIPP offers freedom to decide where our money is invested and a greater choice of higher quality ethical and sustainable funds.

How do you know if your money is being ethically invested?

Pension funds across the 35 countries that make up the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development account for US$ 36 trillion worth of investment. This is a huge contribution to the global economy, but it is spread across the whole stock market and most of these funds have no ethical or sustainable criteria.

Imagine the potential impact if all this was divested from fossil fuels, deforestation and other environmentally harmful investments.

“Making your pension green is 21x more powerful than giving up flying, going veggie and switching energy provider.” – Make Money Matter

Even traditional ‘ethical funds’ risk ‘greenwashing’ with weak exclusion criteria and minimum transparency, making it impossible to know what environmental impact our pensions are having, or whether they are aligned more broadly to Itad’s values.

What’s different about a SIPP?

A SIPP works largely the same as a standard pension fund, accruing a pot of money through monthly contributions, with one key difference: you manage where your money is being invested.

Our team are now able to make an informed choice about where their personal pensions are invested, ensuring our money isn’t fuelling climate change and instead promoting sustainable, green initiatives. As calls grow to divest pension funds from fossil fuels, every year there are more green and ethical funds available, with stronger criteria for what counts as a ‘green’ investor.

What else can I do?

Switching to a SIPP sends a clear message: we care about how ethically our money is being invested. And the more people prioritising green pensions the more power this message has to make lasting impact on the way investments are made, globally.

However, it’s not the only thing you can do to support climate positive investments. Our Green Team shares two more small actions you can make today.

1. Write to your MP

Pushing politicians to divest from fossil fuels is an important first step to creating a political system that requires:

  • transparency from private pension funds as to where they’re putting our money, and
  • Divestment from polluters and investment in sustainable futures.

2. Switch to an ethical bank.

Every penny in your bank account is being constantly invested, hedged and re-invested, fuelling large parts of the economy. Between 2015 and 2016, banks invested US$ 1.9 trillion into fossil fuel extraction. However, the Good Shopping Guide has a list of ethical banks for a more sustainable choice.

We can’t save the world with isolated individual actions, so put your efforts into changing the system!

What’s next for Itad’s green team?

We continue to ask: how do we do business in a more environmentally conscious way? 

Our green team is identifying new ways to improve our internal systems to encourage greener practices and raise the awareness and skills of internal staff to adopt these new practices and policies.

We are also focusing on mainstreaming climate change and biodiversity considerations into our technical work, and developing materials to support others in our sector to improve their own practices.

Keep an eye out for more on our green agenda in the coming months.

Read more from our green team: