How the KBB industry can lead the way on sustainability

We’re introducing a regular column that addresses an issue bigger than coronavirus – sustainability and the environment. In his monthly column, Richard Hagan, MD of Crystal Doors – a pioneer in this field – will highlight how you can run a sustainable business and still make a profit

Every day my mind is fixed on ideas to improve my under-standing and engage with others to address the climate emergency. This is not a typical business owner’s daily routine. 

The difficulty we all face in a world of information overload is navigating the opposing arguments of green wash, scientific evidence and global companies fighting to hold on to their empires.  

In 2015, I faced the closure of Crystal Doors when our local council rejected planning permission for a 980kW biomass burner on environmental grounds. Our factory is situated only 10 metres away from Rochdale Canal and Natural England was emphatic that the resulting emissions couldn’t be managed. To appeal, I searched the internet, networked, and paid thousands to address every possible environmental question for the next three years until planning was passed. I had to change to survive or lose 20 years of business. 

This is the acute reality of the climate emergency that ultimately faces every company, whether you like it or not. We will all need to change to survive. Thankfully, what I learned as director of a £2 million turnover company was that every little change saves money and contributes to carbon emission reductions. Before I knew it, I had five years of continuous improvement under my belt and Crystal Doors had become a leader in sustainable business. 

In 2019, Crystal Doors was a UK finalist for sustainable manufacturing at The Manu-facturer MX Awards, alongside global brands such as BMW and Kingspan. Without hesitation, my goal was to win the following year, knowing that small companies are agile and can adapt very quickly. 

The 2020 MX Awards were postponed, but Crystal Doors has since been recognised in several other award schemes.This included beating the Bank of England to the Carbon and Energy Transition Award from IEMA – the UK professional body for environmental professionals, that knows much more about these things than me. 

Finding green opportunities

In 2020, companies of all kinds experienced a year of unprecedented disruption, where leaders had to adapt to survive, engage with new technologies and communicate effectively with their stakeholders. 

Change can happen quickly – those
who adapted effectively and efficiently transitioned to the ‘new normal’ and found new sales opportunities. 

Businesses thrive with innovation and through vision, strategy, and engagement. The race to sustainability and net zero carbon emissions is no different, but it can be confusing to know what to do, what will make a difference and improve profits. 

Join the race to net zero

The race to net zero carbon emissions has been set by UK Government for 2050, and over 90% of the world’s governments have also set similar targets. But the science shows that isn’t fast enough. I have committed Crystal Doors to achieving carbon neutrality by 2022 – less than a year away. We started this journey in 2015, deliberating over every penny spent, and I can see no reason why other SMEs can’t achieve the same by 2030. 

• Find out more about Crystal Doors and its environmental journey by visiting or by listening to season two, episode five of the award-winning kbbreview Podcast. You can listen by searching ‘kbbreview’ in your podcast app of choice. There you’ll find all the previous episodes as well as how to subscribe and leave a review.

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