The Business Environmental Support Scheme for Telford was launched in 2001 to help businesses across the region improve their environmental performance and carbon footprint – not only to reduce their impact on the environment, but to boost their competitiveness and help make financial savings. The not-for-profit organisation draws members from both the private and public sectors and has 154 registered companies, from sole traders right through to large multinational corporations.
Since it launched, BESST has helped businesses and organisations across the region to save in excess of £1.5 million through the implementation of ideas shared between members at the numerous breakfast meetings and events held throughout the year. The main ethos behind the network is to promote an environmentally aware business culture, educate members on the benefits of environmental efficiency, and help implement sustainable resource management.
The organisation promotes the view that commitment to environmental technologies is ultimately an investment in the future, and with findings suggesting that the future success of a business relies on its ability to manage major risks posed by climate change, depleted natural resources and loss of biodiversity, this is not a concept which businesses should take lightly. From large-scale environmental impacts such as air- and land pollution, right through to lesser influences such as educating staff about changes they can take, any change, however big or small, can make a real difference.
The network ultimately is aimed at providing businesses across the region with the appropriate advice and guidance to ensure they can reduce their ecological impact along with their carbon footprint. The organisation isn’t targeted only at helping bigger corporations, though: SMEs and even sole traders can improve their environmental impact with the support of BESST. As well as sharing advice and ideas, the group also aims to support businesses with planning and preparation for forthcoming legislative changes and reforms, which are set to become more frequent in years to come as the government seeks ways to ensure that businesses reduce their environmental impact.
Since its launch in 2001, BESST has built up an extensive membership with 154 registered companies, and 226 individual members. Despite economic pressures, and a short-termist outlook among many businesses, BESST members continue to develop and deploy innovation in the field of sustainability, as more organisations recognise the importance of implementing an environmental strategy – before it’s too late.
Year after year the group has grown and its members represent a wide range of organisations and sectors, from manufacturing and construction right through to charities and tourism. Furthermore, manufacturing accounts for fewer than half of members, which indicates that organisations from across diverse sectors are recognising that they can make a significant difference to their business’s carbon footprint. In 2013, the group organised a series of successful events, from breakfast workshops at which members could share advice and guidance on best practice, right through to meetings allowing some of the larger organisations to showcase changes they had implemented.
The BESST steering group recognised that some of the newer members were at the beginning of their sustainability journey, and felt it would be beneficial to hold a ‘Back-2-Basics’ workshop, at which steering group members presented to new associates the actions they had employed when they started, and the positive outcomes of these actions.
The network has also played host to a number of bigger events, including its annual conference focusing on biodiversity (pictured) which was held in September at Ricoh’s UK headquarters. Guests were provided with a tour giving an insight into the organisation’s continued biodiversity work.
In 2014, events are set to continue with a variety of exciting seminars, workshops and meetings planned, primarily focusing on the theme of water (see opposite), while incorporating the regular legislative and biodiversity sessions.
CASE STUDY: Lyreco taps into expertise
There are myriad changes a business can make to improve its environmental efficiency, but water efficiency often isn’t high on the agenda – despite water being possibly the most valuable resource we have. That’s why BESST will be focusing in 2014 on water as its theme, hosting a series of events dedicated to helping businesses reduce their water consumption.
From small home-based businesses to large manufacturing plants, all organisations can benefit from saving water. Many businesses pay higher water costs than are necessary, and invest little time and money into reducing their consumption, despite typical savings of up to 30 per cent. In addition to reducing costs, focusing on water reduction can also help businesses to comply with environmental legislation, reduce their carbon footprint, and improve environmental performance.
BESST member Lyreco is an environmentally conscious firm, and Manel Roura is the organisation’s safety and sustainability manager, constantly seeking ways to reduce the firm’s impact on the environment.
“After mainly focusing on improving electrical and gas efficiency, we realised that we had undertaken virtually no assessment of water consumption,” he says. “Working alongside BESST and Envirowise, Lyreco completed a water audit to discover where water was being used, and to identify where savings could be made.”
Following the audit, Lyreco found that it used around 16,000 cu m of water per year for supply and sewage, at a cost of around £40,000. Domestic use such as toilets across the whole site, the canteen and kitchen, and fleet washing area accounted for the usage, but the audit also highlighted a huge amount of wastage within the organisation. The audit found that there was water leakage at the water meter, with the potential to reduce water pressure, and that urinals also used up a lot of water. The overall findings suggested that Lyreco needed to monitor its water usage more carefully.
After considering the findings, Lyreco found that rectifying the water leakage alone would save 300 cu m per year, which was over £600. The company also chose to reduce its water pressure, from four bar to two bar, which saw a saving 2000 cu m of water, or £4000 per year. Since the water audit was conducted, Lyreco has reduced its water consumption by 10 per cent, and water efficiency now plays a huge role in Lyreco’s strategic approach to sustainability management.