9 May 2016
Urban Planters London West - a Green Mark certified business - increases employees' productivity rates by bringing greenery indoors to improve air quality and make people's surroundings better. The organisation supplies a high-quality range of living plants and plant-related products for offices and workplaces. They also offer a range of products such as living walls, living art and Christmas displays to transform indoor space, as well as maintenance services.
Urban Planters' visionary Directors Liz Cabble and Richard Poole, have environmental management at the heart of their business. They worked closely with Ioanna Rossi, the Green Mark Advisor, to measure the impact of their activities on the environment. This led to a range of new policies and practices aimed at waste management and recycling, energy use, water use, air pollution, biodiversity, travel plans and smart driving, as well as maximising their positive impact on local communities. The two Directors recognise that current investment in sustainability will have long term outcomes. They were very keen therefore to put in place an Environmental Management System (EMS) and achieve a Green Mark Level 2 certificate. With the Green Mark Advisor's support they developed long-term objectives aiming to improve the overall environmental efficiency of their business.
The 4Rs of 'Waste Hierarchy' - Reduce, Re-use, Recycle and Recovery - are embedded and applied across all of their policies and practices to ensure that they are embraced by employees and clients alike. Urban Planters strives to reduce waste by avoiding purchasing unnecessary goods, extending use of their resources and re-using where possible. For example, they offer the opportunity to small businesses to improve the aesthetic of their offices by purchasing plants in nearly new pots at affordable prices. Re-use is a strategic priority for Urban Planters as it has financial, social and environmental benefits and because it reduces the demand on raw materials. If waste is produced, it is primarily recycled and a small proportion goes to incineration for energy production - 0% of their waste goes to landfill. Urban Planters increased recycling in 2015 by over 20% compared to the previous year. Production of general waste has remained constant over the last 5 years, even though their business turnover increased more than 40%. For the same 5 year period, the amount of printing paper they used has remained the same and use of cartridges has declined by 75% due to an "only print when necessary" policy which has been fully adopted by staff.
In a bid to reduce energy costs and carbon emissions the company has focused on two main areas: a) measures to improve the energy efficiency of their facilities; and, b) reduction of refuelling costs. The first was achieved by improved insulation, therefore less heat loss, installation of 2 heat pumps, which are more efficient and help minimise energy usage, and less use of electrical lighting by making better use of daylight. In order to reduce refuelling energy costs, Urban Planters decided to invest in electric vehicles and smart-driving training for their staff. In addition, the company benefits from zero rate Company Car Tax, capital allowance concessions, as well as 100% discounts for road tax and London congestion charge costs, which is very important considering that a large number of their clients are based in the City of London. As a result of the above measures, in 2015, the company reduced electricity use and cost by over 40% in relation to the year before and cost of other types of refuelling by 20% (i.e. diesel, LPG and unleaded petrol).
The EMS is now a key part of Urban Planter's overall management decisions. It provides them with a framework to evaluate and manage their environmental impact and ensure compliance with legislation; they easily avoid fines and penalties from environmental regulators such as the Environment Agency. They also manage their resources more effectively through continuous improvement; they reduce waste and consequently save money. They win new business by demonstrating to clients and partners a commitment to sustainability.
Green Mark is an environmental certification scheme.
This article was first published on INTRALOGISTICS MAGAZINE Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 52-53, April 2016 Read here ...
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