Starting an eco-revolution

By Ben Brocklesby, director at Origin.

Sustainability is top of the agenda for many British manufacturers. From the Derbyshire-based The Real Kitchen launching the first fully sustainable kitchen range made from bamboo, through to Plaswood’s new tables that are made from 100% recycled plastic, there are some really clever ways that UK companies are reducing their carbon emissions and environmental footprint.

At Origin, we are proud to be joining this eco-revolution. We are passionate about improving our standards and have made large strides across the entire business to reduce our impact. For us, the achievement of gaining the ISO 14001 accreditation shows a strong moral compass and an intent to continuously improve doing things the right way, not because we are told to do so, but because we think it’s the right thing to do. Therefore, in 2018, we implemented our environmental management system and are dedicated to improving this at every opportunity.

We are by no means the finished article. However, in 2018 we became zero-to-landfill, which is a huge achievement. The general waste we produce is incinerated to create electricity for social housing, with the leftover ashes used to make tarmac and asphalt.

On top of our accreditation and systems already in place, we have very clear environmental objectives that we are working towards as a business. We plan to reduce our electrical consumption through the use of motion-sensor lighting, replacing all light fittings with energy-efficient units, and changing all hand tools from 240v to battery.

We will reduce paper usage via the improved implementation of our online tools, such as Entropy, X3, OSS, Assure and Sage. Gas consumption will reduce due to biomass heaters being installed in the manufacturing units. The introduction of a fleet management system allows us to monitor driving habits, meaning fuel consumption will reduce dramatically. Plus, our general waste and water usage will both come down in 2019 too. Often, it is the small changes that can have the greatest impact.

With this in mind, manufacturers should continuously improve their sustainability credentials, while keeping an eye on the future. For example, Origin’s aspirational goal is to become completely self-sufficient in the energy we use.

On top of doing our duty for future generations, there are also business benefits of being more environmentally friendly. Consumers increasingly make buying decisions based on a brand’s sustainability credentials. Buyers look at the quality of products and level of service, plus an organisation’s moral compass, and use this as the deciding factor in the purchasing process.

Data from a GlobalWebIndex report in 2018 supports this, showing that millennials are more likely than any other generation (60%) to pay extra for sustainable products. With the other generations also following this pattern – 58% of Gen Z, 55% of Gen X and 46% of Baby Boomers – brands simply can’t afford to ignore this consumer drive and will be left behind if they bury their heads in the sand.

It is easy for me to talk passionately about this subject because it is something that I strongly believe in. I would caveat the above with the fact that there is no one-size-fits-all approach, and people need to find their own way.

We understand this, and therefore don’t expect each of our partners and installers to be taking the same approach. What we do hope to see is each of them looking to be better, for a far more efficient and overall ethically better way of operating.