As COP26 comes to end, the message on climate change and our affects on the planet has been well documented. The requirement to do more however is not just aimed at governments or big business but everyone, right down to the man or woman in the street. So while at home, we can turn the thermostat down, wear warming clothing, eat less meat, walk more, drive less, use public transport and recycle to name a few things, its the time we spend at work where we can also make a difference.
Electrical Testing have made changes too in an attempt to reduce our impact on the environment. Our new offices have been commissioned with light sensors that turn the lights on and off when not being used. Hand dryers in the toilets that reduce the need for paper towels. We’ve encouraged staff to cut down on the amount of printing that they do. We gave everyone in the company their own water bottle to reduce plastic bottle usage. We installed a new, modern and energy efficient air conditioning unit and reduced the number of windows to cut down on energy loss in the building.
With the march to net zero gathering pace and the ban on diesel and petrol cars looming large in 2030, the growth of electric vehicles will continue to become a headline in the coming years. September saw the sale of EV vehicles outstrip diesel cars for the first time. While there are currently no EV’s in operation by our staff, we’ve installed an electric vehicle charge point in our car park for visitors who may have already made the switch. This single 7kw charger will one day be in constant use and no doubt we will need to install multiple chargers to satisfy the demand. As large fleet operators start to make the investment into Electric Vehicles, we are dipping our toe in the water with a couple of vans for regional use. As our leased vehicles come to the end of their leases, we hopefully will be in a position move more vehicles into electric.
Electrical Testing’s impact on the environment however isn’t all in Acle. In early 2021, we won a tender with Essex Highways to replace 82,000 LED lanterns across 3 years. The programme began in May, 2021 and has approximately 1000 lanterns replaced every week. This rollout once completed, will save the council over £2.2 million a year in energy costs. LED lanterns last 4 times as long as the older sodium lanterns which means less visits to replace them, maintain them and all the knock effects of looking after the asset. Fuels costs, Traffic Management costs. Labour costs. Administration costs, the list goes on and on.
But what of the old lanterns. What happens to them?
In July 2007, an EU Directive came into effect in the UK. WEEE (The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Regulations ensure electrical and electronic equipment is recycled in a sustainable way when it reaches end of life. While all manufacturers of electrical equipment are required to join a compliance scheme which manages WEEE waste, it is the end user who has the responsibility to make sure that the product is recycled when it reaches the end of it’s life.
Thus on a monthly basis, a compliance scheme company collect a skip of approx 4000 redundant lanterns a month in Essex. And another does the same in Suffolk. And Central Bedfordshire and Kent and East Sussex and so on and so on as LED conversions and column replacements occur across the country. While the lantern is made up of many different materials, WEEE regulations stipulate a minimum recycling and recovery rate of 75% for lighting equipment. Our compliance scheme company register between 83% and 98.2% so together we can feel confident that we are moving in the right direction
towards making a difference.
Of course there is always more that we could be doing. As COP26 has shown, its not about words and promises but actions. So we won’t just promise to do more. We’ll back up our words with some actions. Greta Thunberg we are not. And we won’t glue ourselves to the nearest main road either. We have however created an environmental working group, setup with the aim of engaging staff, reducing our carbon footprint and becoming more environmentally aware of our actions, their effects and what we can do to change them. Setting new goals for staff and the company to reach. Meeting quarterly, and with representation from the various departments within the business, its another effort on our part to do more.
Pro-active. Not passive. It’s a start.