Paul Hamilton, our Technical Director, was asked by Tomorrow’s FM magazine about the importance of putting good environmental intentions into solid practice. Here’s what he said, which published in the March edition of the magazine:
Have you taken a look at your company environmental policy lately?
If it’s a living, breathing document that gets revised regularly – and crucially, communicated to colleagues – then, good for you.
If, however, it’s a short, vague statement untouched since 2012 – and probably peppered with pledges to ‘strive’ to do the right thing ‘wherever possible’ – the chances are, you are in trouble.
Whatever your views on climate crisis – and your ability to make a difference – your customers, partners, and suppliers are increasingly looking for everyone they deal with, commercially, to be working to minimise their impact on our planet.
Young professionals in their 20s and 30s are moving into increasing numbers of decision-making positions in our sectors and are more demanding of ethical behaviour than their older colleagues.
One recent survey by Nielsen found 66% of consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable brands – a figure that rises to three quarters among Millennials.
The promises you make in your environmental policy should be as SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound – as any other business objective.
And this need to demonstrate a robust mission and vision will only grow in importance. So, if yours is ripe for a rethink, how do you create a shining environmental policy?
Taking a detailed look at the EU’s Hierarchy of Waste would be a good starting point. Managers often put a lot of focus on recycling properly. Yet minimising the resources you use in the first place, and passing on what you no longer need for re-use, can do more to protect the environment.
Your environmental policy should tackle purchasing as a key area. What supplies do you need? Are there more sustainable alternatives available?
How far do these materials need to travel to reach you? This factor is key in the carbon footprint of any item.
Did you know that it takes 8kg of carbon to make a polycotton bedsheet and import it to the UK? And that 70% of that carbon footprint – including the use of 10,000 litres of water – is accounted for in its manufacture and transportation?
Working to limit how many sheets you order, and how long you can make each item last, can make a real, tangible contribution to your low-carbon ideals.
Some environmental improvements are easier to achieve than others. It’s very easy to make sure that cardboard and paper goes in the right bin, for recycling. We hope you already do this!
Yet as we all know, it’s harder to tackle complex components of factory equipment – perhaps including potentially harmful materials – in terms of what we use in the first place and what we do with it when we no longer need it.
Work smart. Tick off everything that’s straightforward first. Remember, every little helps. Then, when you have made this progress, you will feel more empowered to find solutions to the trickier questions.
Finally, the best environmental policy in the world is worth nothing if you don’t have your staff and other stakeholders on board. At the preparation stage, consult them. Ask for their ideas and input. Everyone will bring their own expertise and creativity and your vision will be all the richer.
Then when it comes to implementing your improvements, you already have people’s buy-in and – hopefully – careful co-operation.
Lowering a company or organisation’s carbon footprint needs everyone from the shop floor technicians to senior buyers to the finance director to pull together.
Once you are putting your good intentions into solid practice you will find you have plenty to populate an environmental policy to be proud of – to benefit your fortunes as a business, as well as the planet.
Regenex has produced a White Paper about textile waste, Love Linen Longer available to download free of charge here. A free 400kg trial of Regenex’s lifecycle-maximising stain removal treatment is also available to all new customers.