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18 May 2023 by News

Making sustainability meaningful and measureable

In a world where sustainability forms an important part of ESG reporting and can have a tangible commercial value on the bottom line, greenwashing is no longer an option.

Consumers are holding companies to account for the sustainability claims they make and both consumer and B2B companies are not only taking action to ensure they are driving environmental best practice, but that their supply chain is accountable too.

Credibility lies in meaningful and measurable action on climate responsibility, rather than ambitious but ambiguous pledges. Aiming for carbon neutral might sound like it ticks all the boxes on sustainability, but does it go far enough?

Here at Herbert Walkers, we work closely with our customers and recognise their genuine desire and commitment to improvements in sustainability in their supply chain, and in achieving carbon reduction goals. But we’re not just making sustainability improvements to our business to live up to our customers’ expectations, we’re delivering on carbon reduction to help us achieve our own environmental and commercial goals too.

We have made a £3 million investment in new, energy efficient and operationally high performing equipment to help us reduce energy consumption and increase our capacity without running machines for longer. But our plan for improving sustainability is not all about spending – most of it is about saving!   We continue to embed sustainability into our culture and throughout our entire operation, inviting creative ideas and sustainable solutions from across the whole business, as well as encouraging better energy saving behaviours.

Here’s a snapshot of what we’ve been up to:

  • We’re utilising expert knowledge. Working with Businesswise, a specialist in advising energy-intensive businesses, we’re monitoring and managing our energy consumption, reducing operational costs and mapping a journey to carbon neutrality. Herbert Walkers has already reduced energy use by 30% without any reduction in output – in fact, our output has increased – but we’re confident we can do more.
  • We’re reducing energy wastage. After reviewing ancillary equipment that is energy-hungry and expensive to run, we’ve installed power factor correction to improve the overall energy efficiency of equipment. It’s useful for equipment that demands large amounts of reactive power (that’s the power required for electrical equipment to function without being consumed), which is typical of motors and transformers used in industrial and manufacturing sites. Reactive power is drawn in addition to the useful power (to achieve the task at hand). The correction solution helps to improve efficiency of these energy-hungry machines to reduce energy wastage.
  • We’re scheduling shift patterns more efficiently. We’re scheduling shift patterns more efficiently to optimise machinery running time. Where some parts of our factory were on a triple shift pattern, we’ve now dropped to double day shifts across the whole factory. With careful planning and a slight change in our work mix, we’ve been able to do this without impacting our output. This means use of ancillary equipment required when any part of the factory is running – such as compressed air, waste extraction, lighting and heating – has been reduced completely, which has had a huge positive impact on our energy efficiency.
  • We’ve invested in energy-efficient equipment. Installed at our factory, as part of the £3million investment programme, is a BOBST VISIONFOIL 104 machine, capable of foiling 7,500 sheets per hour. It complements the capacity of Herbert Walkers’ three existing BOBST foiling machines. We also purchased a new Signature folder-gluer machine, a BOBST Novacut 106 ER diecutter, and various card-folding and packing machines.
  • We’re making our buildings more efficient. We’ve installed new windows throughout the office areas and replaced the factory floor to enhance the clean environment of the BRC, ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certified factory.
  • We’ve been exploring renewable energy sources. As a manufacturer, our energy consumption is our biggest environmental impact – categorised as Scope 1 emissions. We’re continuing to investigate options to use renewables at our site. Challenges of location, roof pitch, orientation and structure mean that solar panels may not be viable, but we are exploring the feasibility and keeping up to date with advances in renewables technology.
  • We’re changing our behaviour. By monitoring the use of equipment, we can see the positive impact of changes we make. For example, a small compressor which we used to leave on all weekend was drawing power even though it wasn’t in use, so we’ve switched it off.But we’re considering each piece of equipment on a case-by-case basis – where a machine takes a long-time to power-up, we can make informed decisions as to whether to switch it off and save energy or leave on standby to maximise efficiency. These insights have motivated the entire team to seek out energy-saving ideas and make suggestions.
  • We’ve established an efficiency champions group. Having this group in place embeds a culture of environmental responsibility throughout the business.

Sustainability is a priority for our business. Integrating it throughout the operation – and seeing the cost efficiencies we can also achieve – has brought improvements to our business, and gives confidence to our customers that we can support them in achieving their own sustainability goals.

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