27 Jan 2014, 14:25
Improving energy efficiency within your warehouse environment can bring a multitude of benefits to a company. Being able to boast green credentials can help improve your business's reputation, and could be just the thing to make you stand out a little from your competitors when it comes to attracting new customers. But perhaps the more immediate benefit has to be the financial implications. Saving energy ultimately saves you money, so it is something which all business should be striving for. The warehouse is a great place to start, as it's an area which, traditionally, uses a lot of energy - with lighting, heating, transport and packaging all taking place under one roof, and staff often working around the clock. Here are a few things to try to transform your warehouse into a greener working environment.
Give it the green light
Obviously your warehouse needs light. But there are a host of different ways to get that on the market, including natural light sources and extremely efficient bulbs. The simplest and most cost-effective way to reduce your lighting's energy consumption is to remove all of your older, inefficient light bulbs and replace them with LEDs (light emitting diodes). These can last up to ten times as long as traditional compact fluorescents.
If you want to take it a step further, look into installing skylights to make the most of the natural light. They may be a small initial outlay, but if you are able to reduce the amount of lights required at all times during the day, you're sure to make that money back.
Shut the door on heat loss
Are your warehouse doors looking past their best? Are they property insulated, or are you losing heat through the cracks as well as during opening and closing? Replacing the doors at entry points to your warehouse can make a vast difference to your energy consumption. There are doors available from companies such as Attenborough Industrial Doors which open and close at a rate of up to 1000mm per second, letting the minimum amount of heat escape when you need to enter the warehouse. They can be controlled by lever, remote or even motion sensor, making them extremely user friendly.
Stick to schedule
A schedule is key to ensuring that operations are running as smoothly and efficiently as possible. One thing that we would recommend paying particular attention to is your forklift trucks. Whilst they may never travel great distances, these trucks can build up quite a mileage over their lifetimes. Having a set schedule and sticking to it ensures that you know exactly what needs to go out when and helps you eliminate superfluous journeys. Also, try to encourage your drivers to switch the engine off whilst they are loading or unloading.
Waste not want not
Waste is one of the biggest problems for many business and needs to be tackled head-on if you really want to reduce your carbon footprint. You'll probably find that your warehouse produces a range of waste products, including packaging equipment, oils, chemicals and batteries. The easiest thing to do with these is to take them to a waste landfill, but it's not the most environmentally friendly option. Instead, your waste should be taken to separate recycling banks, or reused by your own company if possible to cut costs.
Keep it cosy
It's not just your door that can lose heat, but the rest of the building too. If your walls are poorly insulated, it could be costing you a fortune. Try upgrading to sprayed-foam insulation, which creates a sealed thermal layer, ensuring lower energy bills and more comfortable staff.
This blog was written by Attenborough Industrial Doors
20 Jan 2014, 12:52
We live on a planet comprised of 70 per cent water and yet as of 2011, 768 million people lacked access to proper drinking water according to the United Nations. Water is a contentious issue both in and outside of the developing world. Rising populations the world over mean access to water is being strained in every country, which is why effective screening and sewage treatment has never been more important.
The impact of water on human life
Without water, there is no life. Pushing aside the fact that we are dependent on water for everything from cooking to sanitation, our bodies are comprised of no less than 60 per cent water. After oxygen it is the body's most vital nutrient and it is a fundamental element of the processes that keep us alive. There is a constant need to replenish the water we lose through natural processes like sweating, urination and breathing in order to stave of dehydration; without water it is estimated that the average, healthy human won't live more than three to five days.
Three quarters of Earth's water is undrinkable
On the surface, the idea of a water shortage seems laughable; our oceans, lakes and rivers are bursting with around 326 million trillion gallons, but of this only 0.75 per cent is drinkable. Three quarters of the Earth's water supply is salt water, undrinkable for humans, and of the 25 per cent remaining the majority is completely frozen or hidden underground, leaving only a comparatively minimal amount of water safe for human consumption.
In the developed world we have the luxury of seeing water in simple terms, freshwater is drinkable, saltwater is not. In the world's poorest countries freshwater doesn't go through a rigorous screening and separation process, it quenches the thirst of the drinker while at the same time exposing them to the countless lethal organisms and bacteria that are responsible for taking the lives of around 5,000 children per day.
With climate change threatening to lower our water supply and an ever increasing population constantly demanding more, it's clear something needs to be done.
Creating water from waste
More than gold, silver, diamonds, and platinum, water is our most valuable resource and something that needs to be looked after, treated and cleaned. The EU's Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive was adopted in 1991 in an effort to treat our rain, domestic and industrial waste water (water that has been contaminated with waste) to both protect the environment and the animals, plants and people who rely on it.
Untreated waste water can have a catastrophic impact on an ecosystem through oxygen depletion, biodegradation of organic material, water-borne pathogens and sewage. The purpose of the Directive is to safeguard our environment through continued research and implementation of waste water screening and separation techniques that currently can remove products as miniscule as 0.75 microns from our water sources.
There is currently a wide variety of types of water treatment that can be used to remove harmful materials in order to ensure it can be both safely consumed and returned to the environment. Companies like Environmental Screening and Separation specialise in the separation of both solid and liquid waste from water through their innovative equipment, and they are constantly seeking new, better ways to treat waste water.
As the year progresses it is expected that more and more UK businesses will take strides to ensure their waste water is properly treated for the safety and security of the wider environment. Water recycling is regarded as one of the keys to solving the world water crises, and is something we will be hearing about for years to come.
By Emma Smith on behalf of Environmental Screening and Separation, waste water treatment specialists which works throughout the UK to help businesses properly manage their water.
13 Jan 2014, 14:36
Today many businesses across the globe are making steady progress towards a low-carbon economy based on products and services that use resources more carefully. But an increasing number of businesses want to bring consumers with them - to urge them to adopt more sustainable lifestyles, to cut down wasteful behaviors and, ultimately, to buy more products and services along the way.
However this is not an easy task and few examples of good consumer engagement on sustainability exist. So the question is how should companies approach this topic? Should they even bother to engage consumers on sustainability issues?
Making it easy
If you want consumers to change their behaviour, you need to make it as easy as possible. Evidence of this can be seen most visibly in the recycling rates of local authorities. In the UK there are many examples of local authorities whose recycling rates were boosted by as much as 50 per cent when they moved to a single-stream system, where all recyclables for collection are mixed but kept separate from other waste. Ensuring there is just one bin for your recyclables can make all the difference.
No compromise on quality or price
In the 1990s, many consumer goods companies tried to create niche products that would tap into the increasingly eco-aware consumer. But people willing to compromise on price or performance in favour of green products never really expanded beyond 10 per cent of consumers. Today many companies are starting to realise that the key to success is integrating sustainability into mainstream products that perform equally well on quality, price and planet. And rather than "selling sustainability", these companies are promoting the customer benefits that these environmental attributes provide. A great example of this is the way car manufacturers promote reductions in tailpipe emissions in terms of savings on fuel costs. In a similar way, at AkzoNobel we promote our light reflective coatings by highlighting their ability to save money on energy bills.
At AkzoNobel we witness a disconnect between the increasing number of people who want to live more sustainably and their engrained purchasing habits. In our experience, consumers don't want to have to make a difficult choice. They want us to do the hard work for them, providing coatings that are durable, that have low volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and paints that contain fewer solvents or no solvents at all.
Increasingly businesses are using "choice editing" to promote their sustainable products and services. For example, mandatory energy labeling means that we are seeing a shift towards A and A+ rating TVs. But that is being largely driven by big retailers who don't want to be seen stocking C, D, and E rated TVs. Another very visible example of choice editing is the phase out of incandescent light bulbs in favor of more energy-efficient lighting alternatives which has been undertaken by governments around the world.
Telling a positive story
The entire sustainability movement is beginning to realise that the "doom and gloom" message that many environmentalists have employed over the years is not particularly motivating. For years people have tried to 'sell' climate change, using reams of data to support their case. But consumers aren't buying these often dull and depressing messages.
Many companies are starting to wake up to this and can see the value in communicating a more positive story. Whilst being mindful of falling into the trap of "greenwashing", they recognize the need to build a more compelling vision of what a more sustainable future could look like.
A prime example of this is Marks & Spencer's Plan A sustainability campaign. The company's positive and high-visibility strategy is undoubtedly helping to build trust amongst customers who feel good about shopping at M&S, safe in the knowledge that the company is doing the right thing.
Of course, this is part of what companies have been doing for years to build their brands and they are very good at it. They know that a strong brand can help them retain and attract new customers and even enable them to charge more for their products. A strong sustainability message is just another vital ingredient to this process.
Clearly, companies can wield tremendous power in reaching people and they should not be afraid to engage with their customers on sustainability matters. This is not an easy road to take and they should be aware of the issues I have highlighted in this article. Ultimately though, this is a vital road to travel down if they are to win the trust of their consumers in the long term.
When people ask us what sustainability means to AkzoNobel, we tell them that our success depends on it. But our story is an optimistic one - we know we have to do more with less and we see this as an opportunity as well as a challenge. We call this approach Planet Possible - it's our commitment to finding opportunities where there don't appear to be any.
Chris Cook is global sustainability director for AkzoNobel Decorative Paints
17 Dec 2013, 00:05
As targets are being set across the globe to increase the level of recycling, the UK is no exception and through England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales individual goals are being agreed. However, with statistics coming out on an annual basis, it would seem that the UK is falling dramatically behind in the race to become a zero waste society.
Recycling has been a part of society for decades and started to really pick up within the 1960s and 1970s as we realised we were being far too wasteful with potentially reusable resources and materials. Over the past few years a great deal of money has gone into the research and development of recycling and many ways have been developed to sort, process and transport the materials all over the world.
We are now at a point where even more materials are being recycled and the processes are becoming far more sophisticated. The government is therefore pushing for a bigger focus on the amount of waste we are producing and how much is being recycled.
Do we generate too much waste for 50 per cent status?
It has been reported that in England we generate around 177 million tonnes of waste each year. This is a huge amount and works out at around 3.4 tonnes per person which is, by anyone's means, excessive when there are a large number of recycling options available. The aim is to get to a 50 per cent recycling status in the UK by 2020 and, as a country, we have increased at one of the fastest rates around the globe in recent years.
However, some reports do state that we are behind in targets to reach the 50 per cent goal, and this is a concern for everyone. Homes and businesses across the country are trying incentives and councils are making it easier for people to recycle. The times of four different bins for the different types of materials are no more, as it was deemed too complicated and therefore put people off.
Could public awareness be the key?
There are also a number of changes going on with collection times and the way in which the recycling is sorted - fortnightly collections, alternating between recyclables and general waste, are becoming more commonplace. Eventually, the aim will be that everyone recycles the majority of their waste and understands the importance of doing it. Awareness is also being pushed by the government and many charities are running events to boost the public knowledge.
Between 2012 and 2013, the amount of local authority managed wasted sent to be incinerated saw an increase of 13 per cent. This is a worrying enough statistic, least of all because it is paired with a 27 per cent decrease in the amount of green waste sent for composting during the first three months of 2013. This hints that we are starting to fall behind, and with some countries already passing the 50 per cent mark we need to up our game.
Although more focus is on recycling, there clearly needs to be more effort made by UK residents. Companies such as TDS Safeguard are on hand to develop recycling strategies specifically for your business or home. Large-scale waste recycling companies such as this are becoming affordable and highly beneficial, especially if you are not completely sure on just how much of your waste you could be recycling.
This post was written by Amy Bennett on behalf of TDS Safeguard, the WEEE recycling company for both domestic and commercial properties.
04 Dec 2013, 15:16
If you haven't heard about anaerobic digestion yet, where have you been? This innovative treatment is an ideal way for businesses in the agricultural and industrial sectors to recycle their waste and cut their carbon footprint. In the 2007 Waste Strategy for England, businesses were encouraged to consider anaerobic digestion (or AD) as a way to assist in meeting the UK energy targets.
Anaerobic digestion isn't just some new fad though - this technology has actually been around since the 1800s. But, as concerns about the environment grow, so has the demand for ways to generate renewable energy and, as a result, more and more businesses have been investing in AD over the past few years.
But if you're still feeling a little left in the dark, don't worry. In this post, written by GTS Maintenance, you'll find everything you need to know about this clever technology!
What Is Anaerobic Digestion?
The term anaerobic digestion refers to a special treatment applied to organic materials. It can be applied to a range of natural biodegradable materials, including food waste, slurry, sewage sludge and manure. This material, known as biomass, is naturally broken down until it emits a new gas - known as biogas. Biogas is a methane-rich gas, comprising of around 60 per cent methane and 40 per cent carbon dioxide. This gas can then be used to generate energy.
How Does it Work?
The process takes place inside an anaerobic digester; a large, sealed tank which is void of oxygen. The biomass is heated to around the temperature of blood, when it will react with the naturally occurring micro-organisms and bacteria. It goes through four stages; hydrolysis, acidogenesis, acetogenesus and methanogenesis. The end result is that the biogas is emitted and a material called digestate is left behind. Both the gas and the digestate material can be re-used, therefore making it a very effective way to recycle your waste materials.
What Are The Benefits?
AD provides many businesses with a way to turn the waste products they inevitable produce into new, clean energy, which can then be used on their own site. It can be utilised by any industry which produces food or sewage waste, including agricultural, sewage and food processing, and there are different sized systems available dependent on the amount of waste produced.
The methane-rich biogas which is generated can be used as a source of renewable energy to power electricity generators and provide heat. It can even be altered further and upgraded to filter out the majority of the carbon dioxide - the end result is biomethane, which can then be used as vehicle fuel or to provide gas. Plus, the digestate can be used as fertiliser, suitable for organic farming systems.
By utilising anaerobic digestion, you can help reduce the amount of waste which you are sending to landfill. This in turn helps to reduce harmful emissions of harmful greenhouse gases, as biodegradable material which is simply sent to landfill will emit a large amount of methane, and carbon dioxide if it is simply left to rot.
How Widely Used Is This Technique?
The spotlight has fallen on waste over recent years. Currently, England generates around 177 million tonnes of waste a year - a disproportionate amount to what is reused or recycled. The government are trying to put measures in place to move towards a zero waste economy, which means that waste resources are fully valued and everything that can be reused and recycled is.
As part of this, the UK government and the European Union Directive have begun to introduce legal and financial incentives for diverting waste away from landfill, so taking advantage of this technology could even bring financial benefits for your business too.
Additionally, more people are looking to businesses to set an example when it comes to waste management and energy use. By utilising a technology which uses waste to create clean energy, you can help enhance your business's reputation and values, reflecting your business as a responsible, conscientious company.
By investing in anaerobic digestion for your business, you will be taking a step towards making your business greener, and helping the country meet its waste disposal and energy consumption targets.
This guest blog was written by Emma Williams on behalf of GTS Maintenance. GTS Maintenance design, install and maintain anaerobic digesters for businesses.
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