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Green for Business

04 January 2011

True sustainability is achieved if you have complete control over your operation and understand the value in a business context, as the UK office storage manufacturer, Bisley, explains

WHETHER OR NOT YOU AGREE with the cause, there does appear to be acceptance that the climate on planet earth is changing. We hear that Chicago is experiencing an
exceptionally warm start to its winter whilst us Brits are finding that the snow has arrived a little early.
Attitudes to sustainability and the overwhelming embrace of all that is green is now integral to our lifestyles. Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility is a key business consideration for Bisley in areas encompassing the manufacturing cycle and the way the factories operates, the local communities surrounding the factory sites and in terms of the products it produces. Bisley is an accredited ISO14001:2004 and FISP (Furniture Industry Sustainability programme) Company and has been for a number of years, however the business is continually looking at ways to improve. As one of the UK’s remaining manufacturers and the biggest supplier of steel storage in Europe then the question of ‘sustainability’ becomes a different proposition altogether with more sophisticated and intense solutions.
Bisley takes its name from it’s original location, with a history that can be traced back to the 1930s, Bisley is one of the UK’s manufacturing success stories and now employs nearly 1,000 people in total at its factories in Surrey and South Wales, plus a showroom on London’s Great Portland Street and Subsidiaries in Germany, France, The  Netherlands, Spain and Ireland. In recent years, Bisley has developed its international business significantly, broadening geographical span to cover Continental Europe, Russia, the Middle East and North America.
The Bisley site has grown organically over the last 60 years and its central location in the heart of the community means that it is subject to regulatory control from both the local authority and the environment agencies. To ensure that harmony is maintained with its neighbours, Bisley (Surrey) operates within restricted hours and have introduced technologies including an abatement system on their wet spray plant to ensure emissions are reduced to a minimum, and improved pre-treatment chemicals that are more environmentally friendly. Of course there will always be a certain amount on NIMBY-ism but as a significant local employer, Bisley is a well respected member of the community.
Newport is a larger operation and celebrated its 21st birthday this year. Located on an industrial site and purpose built the operational hours of the site are unrestricted and can run 24 hours 7 days a week or as required.
Green credentials have become increasingly important over recent years in terms of new business and there is a strong temptation by many companies , especially those concerned with the built environment, to associate themselves with as many as possible from the plethora of ‘green bling’ available. However the cynics are emerging to cast doubt upon a number of these initiatives on the basis that they cost so much money to gain and the lack of a stringent accreditation process.
True sustainability is achieved if you have complete control over your operation and understand the value in a business context ie. making savings on the bottom line. As Glyn Rowles, Health, Safety and Environment Manager of Bisley’s operation in Newport explains, “Our sustainability drive is matched by sound business reasons to utilise sustainable practises that are good for the environment and ensure the effective use of resources meaning that operational overheads can be reduced – on this basis Bisley has been a sustainable business from its inception”
However, Bisley does not rest on its laurels and recently with Envirowise and The Carbon Trust took up their offers of further advice. In 2007, The Carbon Trust completed a full in-depth survey into the manufacturing operations of both factories in Bisley, Surrey and Newport, Gwent. This was followed by full waste management sustainability survey, undertaken by Envirowise at the Newport manufacturing site. As a result of both surveys and the expert advice received, further projects have been initiated to reduce energy consumption and implement further waste reduction.
● Additional metering of all key plant was introduced to monitor gas and electric consumption and additional timers installed to control other plant and heating systems.
● The installation of energy efficient lighting plus fitting of inverters on electrical motors to enable variable drive capability. Voltage and gas stability monitoring is also being introduced to identify areas where energy is being lost. This has resulted in a 30 percent reduction in energy consumption and utility billing.
● Additional energy reduction programmes include the replacement of 11,000 KVA transformers with voltage correction facility to reduce electrical consumption by 10 percent. The review of waste management undertaken by Envirowise also resulted in:
● The recycling of waste powder for the manufacture of ink’s and injection mouldings, recycling of cardboard, office paper, newspapers, soft drink cans and plastic bottles through the Waste Savers scheme with wood waste being used for bio-fuel or wood chip.
● An additional bailer has also been purchased for the bailing of all polythene, shrink wrap, bubble wrap and stretch wrap materials that are now recycled with all waste PVC shutters being reground and recycled back into the plastics/extrusion industry. Waste oils generated from plant and machinery maintenance is sent for refining and reclaimed.
● All electrical waste such as light bulbs, fluorescent tubes and redundant electrical equipment is recycled and reclaimed through an approved contractor. Steel in itself is not an environmentally friendly material to produce, however, its true value lies in its strength and longevity and the fact that it can be recycled an infinite number of times without any change in its physical properties or any reduction in its strength. Bisley products are produced utilising the latest and most efficient plant and equipment resulting in products that stand the test of time and therefore can be considered a responsible purchase.
A key element in the design of Bisley products is the ability to fully recycle the product at the end of its life cycle due to easy disassembly of component and internal parts using simple hand tools. It is also true that most Bisley products have an extended life cycle within the secondhand furniture market. The term ‘Built to Last’ certainly applies to Bisley products. Bisley is an accredited associate of Green-Works, a charity specialising in recycling services for office furniture. Used furniture, including steel storage, is collected from customers and re-distributed at highly discounted prices to charities and schools around the world, particularly to third world countries.


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