Operations director for Lakes Showering Spaces Mick Evans welcomes the Government’s drive for a sustainable future, and the opportunity this gives the kitchen and bathroom industries to develop forward-thinking green policies.
The Government’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution is a call to arms for us all to fight for the future of our planet – we must do whatever it takes to protect our world, and we must do it now.
While there are few points in the plan that apply explicitly to the kitchen and bathroom industries, that doesn’t mean it’s not relevant. Depending on how you interpret the strategy, there’s actually plenty of scope to identify and implement improvements which will contribute to the UK’s Green Revolution.
Lakes has long been committed to reducing its impact on the environment, and is a certified Carbon Neutral Plus organisation, awarded by the Carbon Footprint Standard. In 2019, we became the first in the industry to introduce 100% recyclable packaging to remove approximately 2,000 kilometres of banding and nearly two million pieces of polystyrene a year from landfill. Our focus on reducing waste extends to 100% recycling all of our product waste (primarily glass and aluminium) and all recyclable site and office waste. These proactive steps mean the company has already saved almost 300 trees from paper and cardboard production through the recycling of 76% of our waste this year. [Year to date, up to and including October].
Lakes believes that to become an environmentally friendly company requires a complete change of mindset. We look at every aspect of our business and ask ourselves ‘how can we do better’? One of the key points of the Government’s green plan is to accelerate the shift to zero emission vehicles. We already have plans in place to move to an all-electric vehicle fleet.
One interesting inclusion in the Ten Point Plan related to carbon capture to remove more than 10MT of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in the next decade. While more investment, research and development is required before carbon capture at source is used by kitchen and bathroom product manufacturers, I believe the problem can be viewed from another angle. We don’t have the tech to store carbon dioxide right now, but we can all find ways to reduce our carbon dioxide emissions to contribute to that 10MT target. For example, we are also reviewing our plans for solar energy to reduce our carbon emissions even more and further enhance our Carbon Neutral status.
Lakes works with the Carbon Footprint Trust to offset the emissions generated by our business. Last year, we offset more CO2 emissions than our UK operations generated and supported projects to plant trees in the UK and Kenya and protect the Amazon rainforest. This earned Lakes the Carbon Neutral Plus standard in 2020.
Of course, it’s no good saving the trees just to cut them down again for paper! That’s why we are moving towards a paperless office. Under our paperless approach, everything from logistics and invoicing to customer communications and archiving is going digital.
We encourage others to do the same – switching to online brochures and other digital selling tools saves money and the Earth’s resources. There are so many clever marketing ideas out there – like our embedded showroom and 4D real, virtual world modelling – you just need to embrace it as a new way of doing business.
As well as improving the environment, we believe that adopting a sustainability focus makes good business sense. Retailers and designers can leverage the fact they are supplying or specifying sustainable companies or recyclable products/packaging to target eco-conscious customers.
If we are going to truly deliver a zero-carbon future for the bathroom industry, we need strong, forward-thinking green policies and most importantly, we need to work together.