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Have a wonderful Christmas!

Calendar Posted 25 December 2014 | Feed Icon | Calendar 0 Comments

On behalf of the team here at, may I wish all our customers (and everyone else!) a very Happy Christmas! Remember to recycle all the excess packaging.....

All the best,

Matt Roper


by M Roper | 25 December 2014

Separate collections of waste paper, metal, plastic & glass

Calendar Posted 13 November 2014 | Feed Icon | Calendar 0 Comments

It is already a legal requirement for waste producers to treat waste in line with the waste hierarchy. Once you've considered waste reduction and re-use, you need to ensure that all recyclable materials are recycled where possible to avoid landfill.

But as of 1st January 2015, the revised EU Waste Framework Directive 2008 requires that the UK government must make arrangements for the collection of waste paper, metal, plastic and glass separately where 'technically, environmentally and economically practicable' and 'appropriate to meet the necessary quality standards for the relevant recycling sectors.'

This law covers both commercial, industrial and domestic waste. The information stated below does not constitute legal advice and is no substitute for legal or other professional advice.

How does this affect your organisation as a waste producer?

We believe that as of start 2015 you will need to considering the following:

  • Keep a well-documented audit trail when deciding which collection system to use and hold regular reviews to ensure your waste management system remains compliant.
  • As a minimum, you will be expected to separate mixed dry recyclables (paper, metal, plastic, glass) from general waste prior to their collection unless space for containers, cost of collection or any other genuine barriers prevent this.
  • If it is not technically, environmentally and economically practicable (TEEP) to do this, you will need to implement the most suitable alternative solution and ensure you have evidence as to why a separate collection is not practicable. If you are already separating out the recyclable materials into a combined waste collection, you will need to consider the suitability of this, and whether your waste contractor has the capability to separate these out into separate individual waste streams. As a minimum you are likely to be required to have a separate glass collection.
  • Whether or not you separate out your waste into individual waste streams or combined, you will need to ensure that the quality of these collections is of a high standard and not contaminated with non-recyclable waste.
  • Although not a legal requirement, it is advisable to verify the end destination of these wastes, as a best practice measure, to ensure that they are sent for recycling and not landfill.

The diagram (below) is the Waste Regulations Route Map, and for general information only.

We can help you become compliant is committed to ensuring that its customers are compliant. Our UK national waste partners will review your waste practices. They can:

  • Work with you to assess the practicalities and options for implementing combined or segregated collections if you're not already doing so and implement any agreed service changes on your behalf.
  • Provide assistance to communicate with your staff and other stakeholders to ensure that materials separated are of a sufficient quality and not contaminated with non-recyclable waste.
  • Regularly check the quality of your recyclables to ensure that high standards are being consistently applied. If issues are found, they will work with you to resolve the problems and improve the quality of your recyclables.
  • Ensure you have a well-documented audit trail and regular reviews of your waste management system.

You're running out of time to ensure compliancy by 1st January 2015 so we urge swift action!! Just call 0845 217 8995 or email and we'll help you.

by M Roper | 13 November 2014 Recycling Presentation at Droitwich Spa High School

Calendar Posted 12 November 2014 | Feed Icon | Calendar 0 Comments has a dual mission – first to inform, and then to provide practical help for buyers who seek to procure supplies in a way that does least harm to the environment. We do of course sell products via our webshop, but that’s not where it starts and ends. We believe that too many buyers are not considering the environmental impact of their activities, partly due to lack of knowledge, partly due to a misconception that buying “green” products necessarily cost more money. We also recognise that there are other ways in which organisations can help the environment – by encouraging recycling (using our recycling bins), by encouraging the re-use of waste materials (hence – our free to use waste exchange)

That’s why, when we were recently invited to make a presentation on “The importance of Recycling” during an assembly for Year 8’s at Droitwich Spa High School in Worcestershire, we jumped at the chance! The invite came from Mrs Whitehouse, Head of Year 8, who had previously been aware of as a customer. The school has previously purchased recycling bins from the website.

We spent a quarter of an hour talking to the whole of Year 8 about the impact on the environment of throwing rubbish into landfill. We gave them some amazing facts to consider - for example, did you know that the amount of rubbish thrown away by homes in the UK every day is enough to fill 190 Olympic sized swimming pools and weighs as much as 12,000 elephants!

We finished the presentation by examining ways in which the children and staff at the school can improve their recycling practices. Droitwich Spa are well advanced in their thinking about recycling but we know that many schools have yet to take the initiative and get everyone involved to reduce landfill waste.

Says Mrs Whitehouse "It was great having Matt and Hattie from in school to reinforce the message of the importance of recycling in our school. The children were given interesting facts and information about recycling and also good advice about how they could do more. They were encouraged to believe that every small step adds up to make a big difference to our environment."

Would YOUR school like our recycling presentation?

If your school is located within 100 miles of Cheltenham and you would like us to come and deliver our recycling presentation at an assembly, please email us at

by Hattie Burton | 12 November 2014

Join the Ice Ride this October

Calendar Posted 30 September 2014 | Feed Icon | Calendar 0 Comments

Join the Ice Ride!

Let's raise awareness of the threats to the fragile Arctic environment.

Only six days to go before the global Ice Ride to raise awareness of the threats to the fragile Arctic environment from oil exploration and climate change - which are surprisingly linked! Manchester Greenpeace and other friends and supporters will be meeting with their bikes in Albert Square, Manchester on Saturday October 4th to join millions of others around the world with the message Save the Arctic! If you've got a bike or can borrow one, put on some white or blue clothing and come along - it'll be a gentle ride around the city centre.

Click Here to find out more information.

Join in on the Twitter conversation beforehand (#IceRide)

by M. Roper | 30 September 2014

Getting ready for Recycling Week

Calendar Posted 20 May 2014 | Feed Icon | Calendar 0 Comments

Recycle Week is a celebration of everything about recycling. Now in its 11th year it is organised by WRAP under the 'Recycle Now' brand and delivered to the public by a range of partners across the country. It encourages people to recycle more things more often by thanking them for their efforts and showing what more can be done such as explaining the importance of recycling good quality materials and reducing contamination.

The theme for this year ‘Recycling at Home and Away’. It is a great opportunity to encourage people to recycle more things more often and show how it is now easier to recycle away from the home environment.

Some facts and figures...

  • Commercial and Industrial waste accounts for 23% of total waste produced in the UK so there is huge potential benefit for both the economy and the environment of increasing recycling in this area.
  • In the UK we send 700,000 tonnes of clothing to be reused or recycled every year –
  • enough to fill 459 Olympic sized swimming pools every year.
  • Did you know that 9,201,000 tonnes of food is thrown away by the hospitality sector each year and 3/4 of this food could have been eaten.
  • All steel cans are 100% recyclable. They can be recycled over and over again, into anything from cars to motorcycles to more steel cans.
  • More than 60% of householders in the UK say they have unwanted clothes and textiles stored in their homes.
  • In a whole year, an individual drinks can could be recycled eight times, saving enough energy to make 160 new cans.
  • Recycling seven steel cans saves enough energy to power a 60-watt
  • light bulb for 26 hours.

How Business & Schools can get involved

  • Cascade information about recycling services at team meetings, through the intranet, internal newsletters and e-zines, as well as verbally and by using posters.
  • Introduce the removal of individual ‘under desk’ bins and install single waste and recycling points. This increases the amount of material recycled by removing the temptation for people to ‘easily’ throw away. It is important that this is clearly communicated in advance. You are likely to see initial resistance, but people soon get used to the new system.
  • Use posters to help get the message out, including some that can be stuck on or near the recycling bins to indicate what can and cannot be recycled.
  • Encourage senior management to get involved. Their buy-in is important and it is beneficial for messages to come from them.
  • Tell staff why you are recycling and stress why it is important to put items in the right bins.
  • Tell staff how it will save money and what the environmental benefits will be.
  • Speak to cleaning staff to ensure that they recycle correctly.
  • Send round daily tips and facts to all staff.
  • Provide a new screen saver relating to Recycle Week.

In preparation for Recycling Week, please email us links to your YouTube clips showing what you're doing at your school or business to encourage recycling. We'll then add them to our YouTube TV Channel.

by M Roper | 20 May 2014

Five-a-day keeps the packaging away!

Calendar Posted 13 May 2014 | Feed Icon | Calendar 0 Comments

How many of us would like to eat more fruit and veg but just don't seem to have the time? I have certainly in the past bought fruit and veg that's ended up in the bin a few days later. Making sure i had my "five a day" just didn't seem to fit in with a busy work schedule and the school run.

But all this changed when my wife told me about 'Juicing' and it all started from there. Wednesday 14th May 2014 will be my 13th day of doing the Juice Detox. I'm following Jason Vale juicing detox plan. So far i've enjoyed a range of colourful drinks, from bright greens to brilliant reds (thanks to raw betroot juice!). And amazingly, all being well, i will have lost 1 stone on this day (just 13 days from the start of the plan!) Fingers Crossed!

But it strikes me that there is a great further benefit of doing this detox, other than weight loss and "detoxification"- and that's the benefit to the planet. Imagine if huge numbers of the UK population decided that they would juice detox for just two weeks a year.. think of all the food packaging that would not be going into landfill! Think of the reduction in manufacturing processes (with all the power and carbon being generated) that is caused by the fall in processed food manufacturing. And that's before we consider the drop in NHS resources required through the fall in obesity and diseases that appear to be diminished too- that's a lot of carbon reduction!!

by M Roper | 13 May 2014

Housing Association selected as EU Eco award finalist

Calendar Posted 27 March 2014 | Feed Icon | Calendar 0 Comments

A housing association will compete against firms from across Europe to win a top environmental award after being chosen to represent the UK.

The European Commission’s EMAS (Eco Management and Audit Scheme) Awards are the most prestigious in environmental management and are presented to top performing companies and public authorities.

West Bromwich-based the Accord Group has been chosen to represent the UK in the 'Private – Large Company' category, competing against nine firms from countries such as Germany, Italy and Spain.

Each company will have to show judges how they have delivered eco-friendly innovations that have boosted environmental performance in their organisations, to be in with the chance of winning.

The Accord Group has a long standing commitment to sustainability, becoming the first housing association in the UK to achieve the EMAS and the first to open its own low carbon timber home factory in Walsall.

John Bedford, Head of Project Development at the Accord Group, said: “To be chosen to represent the UK in this award category is a fantastic achievement and one that we are very proud of.

“Over the last seven years, we have made huge efforts to reduce our carbon footprint and develop environmentally-friendly homes, such as our timber framed properties in Walsall, Wolverhampton and Redditch.

“We are looking forward to the awards and sharing ideas, best practice and our experiences of environmental management with other organisations from across Europe.”

Andrew Fletcher, Environment, Training and Systems Director at ESP, which helped Accord to put together its award submission, said: “ESP has worked with Accord for seven years or more and in that time we have seen the company continually make great strides in improving its environmental performance.

“The EMAS Awards are a great opportunity for Accord to showcase their excellent work to date and to reaffirm their commitment to being the greenest social housing provider in the UK."

The winners of the awards will be announced on 7 April 2014.

The Accord Group is one of the largest housing associations in the West Midlands and manages 11,000 homes and provides services to more than 60,000 people.

In 2011, it made history by becoming the first housing association in the country to open its own timber home manufacturing hub, LoCaL Homes in Beechdale, Walsall, which manufactures one timber home every day.

This blog was originally published by

by | 27 March 2014

Case study: M&S Plan A strategy

Calendar Posted 3 March 2014 | Feed Icon | Calendar 0 Comments

Nowadays all companies need to demonstrate their green credentials to stay ahead of the game. One of the most high profile UK based companies who have taken sustainability to the heart of their business is Marks & Spencer plc. I have written this blog to consider the success of their 'Plan A' sustainability strategy and how it has been boosted profits as well as helped the environment.

Plan A came to fruition in 2007 as M&S struggled to built their profits after a decade of tough trading. The then CEO, Stuart Rose, had been inspired by Al Gore's ground breaking film, "An Inconvenient Truth" and Plan A was established to make M&S the world's most sustainable retailer. Extensive customer research showed that M&S customers felt that going green was important to them.

Plan A set 100 targets were drawn up, built around five key pillars in dealing with customer and suppliers - climate change, waste, natural resource, fair partnership, health and wellbeing. Initiatives to set up to significantly reduce packaging by 26%, landfill waste was cut by 28% and refridgerator emissions dropped by 60%. And food bags were reduced by an amazing two billion!

Other projects included reducing energy consumption in store and the "shwopping" scheme to encourage shoppers to donate clothing to charity. Clothes hangers and bin bags were recycled and staff were trained to become more energy efficient.

The return of investment shows how important it is for a company to keep the long term view; M&S invested £200 Million in the 5 year initiative. It took two years before the investment broke even. But by end of the third year it had made a net profit of £50 million, rising to £70 million in year 4 and £105 million in year 5.

A further 80 projects were added in 2010 and the net profit of the initiative has reached £135 million in the last financial year. M&S can now claim to be UK's first carbon neutral major retailer and has cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 22% since 2007 thanks to reducing its electricity consumption, gas leaks from refridgerators and improved fuel efficiencies. And this is over the same period of time when sales went up by 18%. M&S sends no waste to landfill and all its fish and most of its paper, packing and wood being responsibly sourced.

by M Roper | 3 March 2014

Are these floods caused by human impact on climate?

Calendar Posted 12 February 2014 | Feed Icon | Calendar 0 Comments

We have just experienced the wettest January in England since 1766. And February seems to be equally atrocious. I think the depressing reality is that we will be experiencing a lot more of this freak weather over the coming years and decades (and beyond!) What have we done to deserve this?

The most respected climate scientists must all be thinking 'we told you so'. All the previous talk of likely climate change is now being physically shown to be real. And things are likely to get worse even if we stop acting in such a harmful way to our planet - which is difficult to see happening.

The problem is that there has yet to be a concerted global political effort to challenge the status quo i.e. the perceived wisdom that states that economic growth, never mind the resources needed, is vital. As the world population continues to grow there will inevitably be a need for economies to develop and grow. But we think that we have to start using our collective brain power to examine how to slow down the crazy global system that is eating up the Earth's finite resources. Something has to give.

But we cannot assume that our governments will lead the way. Its down to the individual citizen and organisations to take a stance and force the politicians to wake up. in its tiny way is about shifting peoples perceptions away from thinking that buying recycled products or products with a smaller carbon footprint have to be more expensive or be of an inferior quality. That is not true if you consider the whole life cost of procurement, including disposal cost and resale values. And the cost to the planet must surely be factored into this! Purely thinking unit price is not going to help anyone in the long term.

To be clear, we don't pretend that buying eco friendly products is in itself going to stop all the floods and freak weather events. Nor do we believe that buying anything is perfectly eco friendly. But if everyone changed their purchasing habits and took many other steps besides to consider their environmental impact then something fundamentally positive would happen, for the good of all. Small steps sadly won't stop the trends but will continue to consider ways to support organisations to improve their green credentials. We really cannot see an alternative.

by M Roper | 12 February 2014

Responsibility & Opportunity via Austerity

Calendar Posted 6 February 2014 | Feed Icon | Calendar 0 Comments

"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty” (Sir Winston Churchill)

Against an ongoing background discussion on the role of public sector spending in a recovering post-recession economy, many governments around the world have committed themselves to spending reviews.

The UK has adopted ambitious public sector spending cuts, now in their fourth year of implementation. With few exceptions all Government departments still face cuts, the scale of which goes well beyond the reach of mere efficiency measures.

For the private sector, such an approach to austerity in difficult times is nothing new. But from Whitehall to Town Halls, from board rooms to factory floors an austerity agenda presents an opportunity to reconsider the more profligate business models and process.

Food production, water scarcity, inequality, climate change, energy security, disease and natural resource shortages; these are the seemingly expensive challenges on a grand scale which we must continue to address whilst making the books balance once again.

The sustainability agenda is concerned not just about doing more with less, but finding better ways to do things. This paper applies lessons from sustainability to spending cuts, in search of doing better. It identifies four areas in which cost savings can help improve the long-term viability of an organisation. It is aimed at those who need to achieve cost savings, but believe there is a more intelligent approach than simply swinging the axe.


Austerity should drive intelligent efficiencies in the short term. But something more is required if long term aspirations for the organisations are to be met. Sustainability can drive innovation and entrepreneurialism whilst achieving efficiencies. This relates to necessity being the mother of invention and how you achieve more with less. Organisations need to do more than hope that adversity drives innovation; they must create the circumstances to facilitate it.

There is therefore a need to create a culture of ideas generation and discussion paralleling the Government’s “Spending Challenge”.

The process of identifying spending cuts is an excellent opportunity to reflect on the fundamental purpose of an organisation. Those looking for medium term growth in size, turnover or scale of delivery, need to consider what the purpose of that growth is? All organisations exist primarily to enhance quality of life in some way. Once that goal is recognised the mechanism by which it is achieved can be determined

Corporate sustainability encourages a complete understanding of operations now and into the future and seeks to adapt internal process providing an enduring, balanced approach to economic activity, environmental responsibility and social stewardship.

These points may be of philosophical interest in abstract, but are only of value when grounded in reality. This document therefore sets out the basis of a practical approach, seeking benefits from the austerity agenda in:

• Strategy

• Innovation

• Process efficiency

• Resource efficiency

The Model

There are four areas in which the drivers of sustainability and austerity can be easily aligned. These are mapped below and provide the structure for this document.

These four elements represent the greatest synergies between the objectives of spending cuts and sustainability. Each of these presents an area in which cost management may provide the catalyst for finding new and better ways of doing business or delivering services.

The order usually begins with a review of strategy as with current austerity measures; however, in some instances innovation can be a viable starting point. These elements are now considered in turn.


• Understanding the principles of sustainability and placing them at the heart of your corporate ethos enables changes and improvements which are necessary but otherwise unattainable.

• The question at a strategic level is not how to achieve a better ROI on sustainability programmes but how a better understanding of sustainability might deliver the short, medium and long term business goals. Hence the sustainability strategy must be founded on the goals of the business plan

• The goals of the business plan should be compatible with the goals of sustainability and changed to reflect the austerity drive

• There is a hierarchy of strategic approaches – Organisational, departmental, brand, project. Whilst each is subservient to its precedents any can become the de facto primary driver of change, depending on the economic model of the organisation.

• Sustainable procurement provides tools and tactics for enacting part of the strategy


• Every organisation has established mechanisms for reviewing what it does and how it does it. Sustainability provides a new mechanism which looks at different inputs and thus produces different outputs.

• Improvement is incremental whereas innovation is radical and transformational. Small cost savings can be achieved with incremental improvements, large-scale austerity cuts require radical approaches

• Philips send electrical engineers on sustainability masters level degree courses so they can design better future proof products

• Innovation is often the preserve of research and development or those in senior management. Organisations become truly transformational and adaptive when staff at all levels are enabled and encouraged to innovate

• Beauty in design often comes from constraint. Imposing new constraints presents new opportunities for beautiful solutions.

• Stakeholders should contribute to product, service and process innovation. This can be achieved during the procurement process by stipulating the problem and not the solution. This encourages supply chain innovation therefore placing the challenge with those that have the technical expertise.

Process Efficiency

• It is, in essence a shortening of the distance between the start of your activities and customer satisfaction.

• All organisations, systems and processes have multiple drivers. Cost is just one of these. If a process has already been cost optimised yet further savings are needed there are two options: A) Radically re-engineer the process B) Terminate the process.

• Delivering projects to budget is now even more crucial than ever. Generating project processes using sustainability principles will assist. For example; the Birmingham Construction Partnership delivered regenerative construction works. In supporting Birmingham City Council, the Office of Government Commerce and the Local Government Task Force enabled an innovative approach to the project that has harnessed sustainability within procurement. The benefits have seen a 52% improvement in projects delivered to time and a 29% improvement in projects delivered to budget.

• A sustainable approach may be to explore staff retention and redeployment over redundancy. However, it is acknowledged that to achieve organisational sustainability, strategic redundancy may be necessary on occasion.

• Ford Motor Company has always been a keen advocate of business sustainability. This has resulted in step changes to society and industry. Providing transport and independence to the masses required ingenuity. Ford pioneered the production line process but also and less well known were its experimentation with soy based materials and ethanol with the Model T. In another example of forward thinking the crates used to ship the Model A truck were dismantled at its destination and became the trucks floorboards.

• The UK Government’s Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has undertaken a study relating to its grey fleet (business travel using employee owned vehicles) management. They discovered that DWP staff travelled approximately 45 million miles per year and this accounted for 57% total business mileage. The study’s objectives aimed to improve the health, safety and welfare of its staff, seek out business and financial efficiencies and discover environmental improvements. The DWP established a travel hierarchy and policy that provides employees with guidance and has subsequently benefited in the following ways:

o £3.6M direct savings;

o 3000 tonnes carbon prevented;

o An increase of utilised work hours (non-travel);

o Enhanced health, safety and welfare;

o Promotion of more sustainable modes of transport.

• Some of the benefits available to organisations adapting their processes are:

o Improvements to process that are proactive not reactive and therefore provide continual organisational advantage;

o More informed decision making at all organisational levels enabling reduced complexity;

o An ability to thrive not just survive;

o An aptitude for questioning process validity will achieve improvements in speed and process adoption;

o Process adaptation engenders a culture of sustainable thinking that enables efficiency of processes providing organisational longevity;

o Acknowledgement of sustainability considerations that impact or have the ability to impact the organisation now and into the future such as resource availability, water scarcity, work force migration trends, organisational opportunities and threats and so on;

o Streamlined operational functions;

o Supply chain resilience, important as no organisation is an island and indeed most organisations often have critical suppliers that could cause considerable disruption to operation should they fail.

Resource Efficiency

• Every organisational system requires a flow of materials and energy that can be defined as inputs, outputs and by-products. Each input, output and by-product carries a variable quantity of economic, environmental and social consequence and opportunity.

• Eliminating, reducing and altering the flow of material and energy at each of these points provide considerable opportunities for efficiencies.

• Add to this the opportunities that can be realised with effective deployment and placement of knowledge, a powerfully efficient organisation is achievable.

• In essence organisational sustainability assists in achieving more for less. However, it does go a number of steps further. For example, many energy companies are moving ahead of their competitors by using more renewable sources and encouraging consumers to use less. Even though this may appear counterproductive these organisations have realised that to continue to thrive in the long term they need to maintain their resources. In the short term they understand that customers welcome environmental initiatives.

• Achieving efficiency at input provides greater reduction of economic, environmental and social consequences than efficiencies realised at output or by-product.

• Peterborough City Council have installed innovative energy saving software on 4,500 PC’s in order to minimise the energy resource that they use. This has resulted in a saving of £50,000 and a reduction of 250 tonnes carbon dioxide. The payback period of the software purchase is less than 6 months.

• Kent County Council have made significant resource efficiencies with LED traffic lights and important improvements to its social and economic performance. Replacing traditional traffic lights with LED’s provides £1.8M direct savings in the first five years, reduces energy consumption by 70% and as they last for 10 years compared with the 6 months of the tungsten-halogen lamps they replace will result in greater health, safety and welfare and re-deployable resources due to the significantly reduced need to carry out maintenance and replacement. The by-products and outputs are also far more efficient due to the reduction in the number of units to be disposed and associated packaging.

• Advancements in the field of sustainable procurement are seeking better outcomes with better cost management, both upstream and throughout the product lifecycle.

• No one organisation operates as an island and systems therefore go beyond the boundary of the organisation. This is where sustainable procurement is gaining momentum.


This checklist provides simple questions to help establish whether your organisation is likely to achieve the greatest benefits from necessary austerity.


1. Is there a proper strategic approach to corporate sustainability in your organisation?

2. Are sustainability goals directly linked to and driven by overarching corporate strategy?

3. Have strategic goals been reviewed in light of recent spending cuts?

4. Are the resources still going to be available to deliver the strategy?


1. Has there been a structured approach for engaging staff ideas for ways to reduce costs?

2. Are all staff aware of the sustainability strategy and their role in delivering it?

3. Are staff supported and rewarded for finding efficiencies and better ways of delivering organisational objectives?

Process efficiency

1. Are all business functions that are currently undertaken necessary to achieving the fundamental purpose of the organisation?

2. Do all business functions enable effective and efficient progression towards the fundamental purpose of the organisation?

3. Do any business functions exist entirely to facilitate a link between business functions?

Resource efficiency

1. Is the relationship between the outputs of the organisation and that of its inputs acceptable?

2. Does an analysis of inputs and outputs present an imbalance? For example; unnecessarily high overheads, under-utilisation or significant raw material or energy wastage.

3. Can comparisons be sought of resource use models at similar scope organisations?

Conclusions / Summary

There is a true synergy between intelligent cost management and some elements of sustainable development. Reengineering systems, processes and organisations to meet sustainability targets can generate cost savings. Reengineering to reduce cost can give rise to more sustainable outcomes. But this won’t happen by accident.

An organisation can cut costs in a downward spiral of worsening performance or create a virtuous circle where sustainability and cost targets are driven concomitantly for the benefit of all.

• An understanding of sustainability can help identify new ways of managing costs

• The principles and practices of sustainability align well and naturally with those of austerity cuts

• Savings are required in the short term but opportunities for future development must still be nurtured

• To realise the greatest savings and benefits from cost cutting, the application of sustainability principles must be strategic and system/organisation wide.

There is benefit in recognising and nurturing the drivers of sustainable growth. These include:

• Cutting costs through designing better systems, not cutting costs by devaluing systems

• Using an understanding of current limitations to gain foresight on future trends and opportunities

• Aligning systems with stakeholders’ current and future needs

• Inbuilt sustainability in project delivery rather than a costly add on

• Use efficiencies as an opportunity to build relationships with key partners for future development

Further benefits of this approach include:

• Ongoing continual professional development

• Development of organisational stakeholder capital

• Social licence to operate

• Foresight and market intelligence

• Beyond cost unique selling points

• A culture of trench loyalty or even better optimism instead of disenfranchised staff

• New product/service innovation

The metaphor of weight loss is often invoked to describe spending cuts. Companies “become less flabby”, processes “more lean”. It is a well suited analogue which bears further consideration. Crash diets may lead to rapid unhealthy weight loss which cannot be sustained and are usually followed by rapid weight gain. This is because consideration is not given to the overall goals of the system, the focus instead being placed exclusively on just one part. This corresponds to the hatchet approach to spending cuts.

Alternatively, weight loss through a lifestyle transformation of better diet and more exercise addresses the holistic needs of the system and can therefore have lasting and positive benefits. This corresponds to a more thoughtful and strategic approach to cost management and efficiency, characterised by a desire to make fundamental and often difficult changes which put the system into balance.

Appendix 1

Further Examples

• Co-operative ecoInsurance where premiums for car insurance are linked to emissions

• Zip cars innovation in car rental

• 30M bike rentals in the first year of the Parisian velib scheme by J C Decaux

• Technology convergence in mobile phones minimises production processes, material use and packaging whilst maximising customer value

• Coca Cola’s long-term water strategy in response to business pressure and climate change – WWF claim over 200L water are required in the lifecycle of a can of coke

• Unilever is using brands such as Ben & Jerrys to develop consumer consciousness about worklife balance and environmental scarcity and in doing so build long term customer loyalty

• Nike started with sustainability at the supply chain level then moved it to a systems based approach which adopted a more holistic view and became part of the overall business strategy

• Google is lobbying for more energy efficient technologies which will in turn reduce its own operating costs

• Time Warner exploring opportunities across all its media output to disseminate sustainability messages.

Additional Concepts

• Traditional economic models of nationhood reward those countries that consume greater resource with superior wealth. However, sustainable growth cannot be permanently dependent on the one-way transformation of finite natural resources to wealth

• Value-added economies create prosperity by managing the flow and circulation of materials and labour, permitting the possibility of sustainable economic development

• Sustainable growth combines the concept of objective wealth creation for the poorest and subjective wealth creation for the affluent.

• Economic growth where one nation or people succeed at the expense of another cannot be sustainable. However, competition and markets do have a role to play in sustainable economies

• Sustainable technologies and solutions have the potential to lift markets, employment etc

• How do you balance the time taken for careful planning against the need for urgent action?

• Value is created over time – although this may be harder in some markets e.g. FMCG

• Werner Sombart’s concept of Creative Destruction presents a necessary role for entrepreneurs in disrupting established commercial order

• Cost cutting is often introduced on a reductionist basis whereby each spending decision is made on an individual basis. Finding the best points for intervention requires system thinking to maximise outcomes


Author Contact : Mark Hedges (Cala Sustain)

Follow Cala Sustain for further resource, tools, discussion and useful links at:

by M Hedges and Del Redvers | 6 February 2014


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