As a company, we believe it is incredibly important, now more than ever to protect the environment. We hear a lot about pollution and global warming, and ways to reduce our carbon footprint, but what does it really mean and what does it mean for companies like us? Environmental pollution is defined as "the contamination of the physical and biological components of the earth/atmosphere system to such an extent that normal environmental processes are adversely affected”. Why is global warming an issue? Mainly because we have already built enormous infrastructure based on the climate we now have. People in some temperate zones may benefit from milder winters, more abundant rainfall, and expanding crop production zones. However, people in other areas will suffer from increased heat waves, coastal erosion, rising sea level, more erratic rainfall, and droughts. The crops, natural vegetation, and domesticated and wild animals (including seafood) that sustain people in a given area may be unable to adapt to local or regional changes in climate. The ranges of diseases and insect pests that are limited by temperature may expand.
For companies and businesses, it is so important to take these issues into account when considering your products and services. We are a bespoke furniture manufacturer, so, we require materials and electricity to run our offices and workshops. What do we do? Firstly, we considered how to reduce our waste and increase recycling, then how we could make the energy we use to run our factory more sustainable.
How better to reduce waste than to optimise our recycling efforts? We invested in a compact baler, a machine that crushes cardboard or plastic into large bales, which we store in an onsite container before they are taken away to be properly recycled. We have yellow and blue bins throughout the factory to make recycling even easier, from large cardboard boxes from deliveries, or a plastic water bottle, they go on to have a new life. We also have a wrapping machine to reduce our usage of plastic while wrapping protection on our joinery that is ready for delivery. The plastic we use is 100% recyclable to once the product has been delivered and installed, we bring the waste back to the factory and it is ready for baling.
To tackle the sustainable energy option, we decided to install solar panels on our factory roof, these provide sustainable power to run our office and workshop. By installing solar energy, we are reducing our carbon footprint by 2.7 tonnes CO2e / year. Savings were calculated by dividing the energy generated over 2 months by the average daily sun-hours for the period, as published by the Government. Average monthly sun-hours were used to extrapolate an annual energy generation. The generation of electricity was then considered an energy-saving, as less energy would be drawn from the grid supply. The energy-saving was converted to a greenhouse gas emission saving using the carbon conversion figure for UK grid electricity as published by the Government at the date of project installation (January 2021). From January to March: Total energy generated = 1,791 kWh. Energy generated per day = 20.11 kWh Average sun-hours per day = 2.76 hours Energy generated per hour = 7.28 kWh. For the period April to December: Total sun-hours = 1,338 hours Energy generated = 9,741 kWh Energy saving: Annual savings from the Solar PV = 11,532 kWh Carbon saving (Carbon conversion for electricity in 2020-21) = 0.23314 kg CO2e / kWh Annual saving = 2.689 tonnes CO2e.
But that is not all we have done; we have also installed a wood waste heating system. A dual-action effort to reducing energy consumption! The system has features such as automatic de-ash, heat exchange cleaning and lambda sensor control; all to ensure clean, efficient, and controlled combustion. As we work with a lot of wood, we, of course, will produce offcuts of wood which will then become waste - with this new heating system, we can cleanly dispose of waste while heating our factory to keep our workers warm!
Here at Middleton Bespoke Joinery, we are extremely proud to announce that our waste is now CARBON NEUTRAL! We will continue in our efforts to become more environmentally friendly, but we are extremely proud of how far we have come already.