We believe those with the ability to lead the way must do so.
Our future viability as a business, and as a society, depends on three pillars: people, profit and planet.
In 2020 we declared a climate emergency and committed ourselves to a radical plan to reach net zero by 2022. That’s a full 28 years ahead of the UK’s national target, and 18 years ahead of Greater Manchester’s target as a city region. In fact, it’s one of the most ambitious commitments you’ll find anywhere in the world.
Things need to change
Our current economic model is not sustainable. The amount of resources we consume has quadrupled in the last 50 years to over 100 billion tonnes annually, but less than 9% is being reused. Climate change and biodiversity loss threaten our future and the future of following generations.
These issues are soaring up the corporate agenda. Companies are facing pressure to act from the public, from their employees, from their customers, from their supply chains and from environmental legislation. Over the next decade more responsibility will be put on businesses to change than ever before.
We’re setting out to prove that even the smallest company can make an incredible contribution to environmental issues.
What do we mean by net zero?
Net zero can be defined in several ways, so we want to be clear about what we mean.
For us, net zero means we will have no negative impact on the climate through our own operations and our wider value chain by the end of 2022. This means including all three ‘Scopes’ of greenhouse gas emissions:
- Scope 1: The direct emissions from sources we control, such as our vehicles and factory heating.
- Scope 2: The indirect emissions we’re responsible for through our electricity consumption.
- Scope 3: The wider indirect emissions we’re responsible for beyond our own operations, such as the goods we purchase and the emissions of our employees when they travel to and from work.
Most organisations with net zero or ‘carbon neutral’ goals only include Scopes 1 and 2 because these are the easiest to measure and control. However, the majority of an organisation’s impact on the environment is actually in their supply chain. That’s why we have radical plans to work with our suppliers and customers to achieve environmental sustainability.
- 2015: Begin annual carbon footprinting assessments.
- 2015-2020: Make improvements to factory and fleet, including biomass heating, rooftop solar, LED lighting and smart energy-saving assets.
- 2021: Achieve net zero for Scope 1 and 2 emissions. Switch to 100% renewable electricity supply
- 2021-2022: Engage with end-to-end supply chain on carbon reduction and corporate responsibility. Offset remaining emissions through local carbon offsetting investments.
- 2022: Achieve net zero for Scope 3 emissions. Remove poor performing suppliers and customers from supply chain.
- 2023: Offer carbon neutral and circular economy products.
Our investment strategy
We are investing 10% of our turnover over 5 years to achieve our goal. To date we’ve invested £1.5 million in assets, training and other improvements. This may sound like a significant outlay, but most of our investments are actually cashflow neutral or cashflow positive:
- Our 980kW biomass burner generates ~£60,000 a year through the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme. We reinvest this income in further improvements.
- Our 246kW rooftop solar PV array is being paid for with a cashflow neutral loan over 6 years using the savings on our electricity bills. We also generate income through the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) and Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) schemes.
- Our LED lighting system is being paid for through electricity savings.
Our strategy shows that you don’t need to be a large business with significant funds to go zero carbon.
Our supply chain strategy
We cannot achieve our goal alone. Starting in 2021, we will begin an active engagement programme with our suppliers and customers to encourage and support commitments on carbon reduction, corporate responsibility and UN Sustainable Development Goals. We have already begun the process of sending out questionnaires to gather data.
We plan to offer all our stakeholders training in carbon reduction action plans and reporting. We are also conducting R&D projects to find and develop new materials that support the circular economy, and we are looking to engage with suppliers to make this happen.
We will support all our stakeholders to take action with the aim of creating a community of likeminded companies we can work with. However, if we deem a customer or supplier is failing to make progress on carbon reduction by 2022, we will not do business with them. It is a radical step, but we believe in putting our money where our mouth is.
Our approach to carbon offsetting
Unlike other businesses, we don’t believe in simply buying carbon credits from the other side of the world to offset our emissions. Taking responsibility for your actions means making changes yourself, not relying on others to do it for you. However, it isn’t possible for us to achieve net zero without some form of carbon offsetting.
We want to make sure any carbon offsetting we require is done as locally as possible. We are a member of the City of Trees 100 Trees Club here in Greater Manchester and we are currently looking for opportunities to join up with others to fund a large solar farm or tree planting exercise in Rochdale.
Sustainable Development Goals
From 2020, we’re aligning ourselves with the UN Sustainable Development Goals – 17 key agendas to end poverty, protect the planet and improve the lives and prospects of everyone, everywhere. The SDGs are an internationally-recognised blueprint to a better and more sustainable world, and the business community has a huge role to play in achieving them.
We want to see progress on all 17 goals and proudly display them on our factory floor for all to see. In terms of our own strategy, we’ve chosen to focus our efforts on three goals where we feel we can have the most impact.