Sustainability: We have got to be responsible’

Keith Wardrope, managing director of HPP, which is 2019 kbbreview Retail & Design Awards sustainability sponsor, explains why his company is doing all it can to cut down on energy usage, reduce waste and maximise what can be recycled

 

Sustainability is a vital issue. We must all take measures as employers, employees, installers and consumers. We have got to be responsible to our children and grandchildren – we live in this world as caretakers and it’s up to us to act responsibly with its natural resources.

HPP started working seriously on sustainability issues about eight years ago; we now have a biomass generation facility and solar panels.

In our door packaging, we used protective polystyrene on door corners for a long time. We replaced that with recycled cardboard corners and now recyclable plastic.

Most of our waste is now recyclable, including MFC and MDF board, metal sundries, cardboard, clear polythene and plastic strapping. All bins have clear waste instructions on them and are designated for specific materials.

Everybody on the HPP board bought into the importance of sustainability and ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ became part of the company’s ethos.

Key messages included ensuring staff knew which types of waste go in which bins, because just one piece of waste put in the wrong bin results in the whole load being rejected.

One of the biggest sources of waste energy in our type of manufacturing work is caused by leaks on air compressors. This is a good example of how environmental and business issues are often interconnected. By addressing one problem in manufacturing, we also address the other of energy consumption.

Heat is another important element in our manufacturing, but none comes from fossil fuels – unless we experience a power cut. Heat is captured and pumped back into our manufacturing processes, such as our glue line.

Tony Nelson, a procurement consultant for HPP, has done a lot of work on this and we have also brought in outside advice on areas such as meter-reading for government schemes and indoor and outdoor temperatures. We are all proud of what we’ve done so far, but know we can do better.

In packing and delivery, we want HPP staff to pack furniture products the correct way the first time. They need to consider if they can reuse cardboard boxes or plastic bags. In offices, do staff really need to print e-mails?

Factory, office and trade showroom lighting across the entire business is being updated to LED, which has saved around £20,000 on our electricity bill.

Businesses can also benefit from outside advice from experts who specialise in sustainability, energy reduction and other issues. At HPP, we use a consultant who makes weekly visits to our manufacturing site to advise on reducing plastic waste and other changes.

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We are also looking at installing hybrid/electric car charging points. I’m looking to change my own car in the next 12 months. I could buy a petrol or diesel, but I see hybrids as a cleaner option. If we all do a little bit, it makes a big difference.

Timber
We buy large amounts of chipboard from suppliers, which is made with a mix of virgin and recycled timber. In general, a higher ratio of virgin timber produces a better quality of board. However, this makes it more expensive and raises sustainability challenges.

A few years ago, there was a shortage of raw timber supplies, which led to higher prices and demand. I don’t think there will be shortages of timber in future if we plant enough forests.

There are some anomalies in the sustainability sector connected to raw and recycled timber. For example, subsidies are given to some biomass energy plants that burn raw timber rather than recycled timber materials.

 

“At HPP, we use a consultant who makes weekly visits to our manufacturing site to advise on reducing plastic waste and other changes”
Keith Wardrope, managing director, HPP

 

Timber and wood-based products used in kitchens or bedroom furniture or window frames can be recycled, and more thought should be given to recycling those types of materials for other products and uses. Products that can’t be recycled can be used as biomass fuel.

Environmental and sustainability con-siderations should not be 
optional. Coordinated action taken by businesses of all sizes can make a big difference
Wood-based 
material manu-fac
turers and suppliers, such as Egger, have done a lot on sustainability.

Egger has published a range of reports on sustainability, environmental and social responsibilities. Bob Livesey, commercial director at Egger’s western European division, says efficient and environmentally-friendly processes are fundamental to the production of Egger’s wood-based materials.

Furniture
A kitchen can physically last for 20 years, but the growing trend has been for customers to replace and update them every seven years or so. This shorter lifespan of furniture produces sustainability issues.

However, design could have a role in improving the lifespan of furniture – for example through the increased use of freestanding or modular units that could be reused in different homes.

From a sales perspective, greater reuse and longer lifespans of kitchen and bedroom furniture could impact on us. So, HPP’s focus is more on boosting sustainable practices linked to raw materials.

So perhaps there are opportunities here for installers to highlight their green, recycling credentials and explain more about what they do with old kitchens and bedrooms? This could be a unique selling point for some installers and showrooms?

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