Bunzl aims to ‘begreen’

Addressing the largest-ever gatherings of Bunzl Group employees in the UK, at The University of London Royal Holloway campus at Egham, Surrey, and at Manchester University Conference Centre, James Cunningham, Managing Director of Bunzl UK & Ireland, set the tone at the landmark ‘begreen’ events by declaring: “We’re here to discuss a topic that goes beyond our business”‘
The audience comprised some 550 employees from management, sales, operations and purchasing, representing each of the Bunzl UK & Ireland companies.
Against the backdrop of Bunzl’s new ‘begreen’ logo, James reminded delegates that the business-to-business group generally supplied “the products our customers buy to use in their businesses but don’t resell”, before explaining the prevailing mood of Bunzl’s stakeholders, in particular suppliers, customers and employees, and the imperative of “ensuring we meet our environmental obligations”.
He concluded by introducing a series of presentations by his senior executives and from representatives of two of Europe’s most environmentally conscious companies: paper products manufacturer S.C.A. and retailer Marks & Spencer – a supplier and a customer respectively.
Neil Dobbs, Bunzl Vending Services’ Managing Director, and the senior executive responsible for developing the ‘begreen’ strategy, announced: “This is the era of sustainable business.” Explaining the pressures impacting upon commerce and industry in this new era, Neil said: “As a distribution business, there is a need for us to respond to the green strategies of our customers, which are themselves responding to the demands of consumers. We must also respond to the initiatives of our suppliers who are committed to producing sustainable products. The government is imposing green legislation that demands compliance and stakeholders, including our own staff and shareholders, are insisting that we do everything in our power to reduce the effect of our business on the environment.
“In the vending business, sustainability is a key pillar of our strategy. Products that are Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance and Ethical Tea Partnership are an increasingly important part of our product portfolio. Our consumers, many of whom work for blue-chip companies, demand products that have been manufactured ethically and sustainably; but initiatives in the company go beyond that to encompass support of sustainable communities in developing economies.”
Bunzl’s response is to tackle the environmental challenge by defining sustainable distribution and product strategies and while these met Bunzl’s environmental obligations, these initiatives could also be seen as an opportunity to do more business.
David Hordle, Head of ‘Plan A’ Delivery at Marks & Spencer, developed the theme, setting out the retailer’s five-year vision to be a green business. He explained: “If everyone in the world lived like we do in the United Kingdom, we’d need three planets to support ourselves. There is clear evidence that green initiatives make good business sense and bring fiscal advantages”. Marks & Spencer has set out to run a sustainable business from the point of manufacture right through to delivery to the customer. David concluded by describing how Marks & Spencer’s environmentally-friendly commitments had delivered bottom-line benefits.
Max Harris, Operations Director of Bunzl Catering Supplies Division, developed the theme of opportunity by informing the audience that: “49 per cent of companies say that they adopt green policies because of rising awareness and 31 per cent cite legislative requirements; but 83 per cent believe that the adoption of a green agenda would give them an economic advantage over their competitors.”
Max reminded delegates that Bunzl had long had an environmental conscience and that the company had already achieved a great deal of which it could justifiably be proud. Most Bunzl companies already hold the ISO 14001 Environmental Accreditation and the Bunzl Group is already committed to measuring its carbon footprint and to publishing the results of that measurement in due course; against the backdrop of just 25 per cent of UK businesses even thinking about doing so.
Three ‘scopes’
Delegates learned that Bunzl in the UK & Ireland is measuring its carbon footprint consistent with the accounting procedures identified by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, (GHG Protocol), in its publication ‘Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standards’. The GHG Protocol identifies three ‘scopes’ for measurement and improvement and Bunzl Group has made significant progress in each area.
Scope One concerns the direct emissions from trucks, vans and cars operating in the business. Via initiatives like the voluntary installation of 55 mph speed limiters in trucks, the adoption of double-deck trailers and the introduction of hybrid vehicles, Bunzl has made significant progress towards its environmental objectives. Max added: “By the piloting of auto-routing, satellite navigation and real-time tracking, it has been possible to achieve growth in delivery volume of 13 per cent, year-on-year, with the introduction of just one more vehicle to the Catering Supplies fleet. Backed up by a driver training initiative, Drive With Pride, a reduction in fuel consumption, and therefore in carbon dioxide emissions, had been achieved.
Scope Two concerns direct emissions from the use of electricity, where a wide range of initiatives has been taken to reduce consumption and therefore cut emissions, including the installation of low-voltage lighting systems in new warehouses and a monthly staff awareness campaign.
Scope Three extends into indirect emissions, where Bunzl is tackling reductions in emissions from business travel on planes and trains through initiatives such as extending the use of video conferencing, eliminating the unnecessary use of couriers and tackling waste through improved segregation and recycling. This was identified as an area for further development and measurement in the year ahead.
Summing up, Max Harris stressed that the range of initiatives being adopted group-wide would be focussed on reducing emissions and lowering the carbon footprint, whilst reminding delegates that such reductions would serve also to reduce operating costs. “The cheapest unit of energy is the one we don’t use”, he concluded.
Paul Willcocks, Commercial Director of Bunzl Catering Supplies and Ernest Craske, National Account Controller of Bunzl Cleaning & Hygiene Supplies, went on to set out Bunzl’s approach to supplying sustainable products. Paul said: “As a distributor, we don’t manufacture products, but we have a duty to inform and educate our customers on the products available from manufacturers. We have introduced a new simple labelling system, allowing customers to identify clearly the sustainable attributes of products across many product ranges, from cups to cutlery and chemicals to paper products”. He explained that this simple labelling system was being introduced throughout all Bunzl businesses, supported by a sustainable product database and comprehensive sales literature. “Bunzl is at the forefront in the provision of information on sustainable products to its customers,” he added, “and the adoption of four logos to clearly identify the green characteristics of our products sets a new standard in the industry.”
With a strategy encompassing both a sustainable approach to distribution and the provision of sustainable products, Neil Dobbs concluded the conference with a challenge to all those present to go out and to engage with all of Bunzl’s customers, identify the customers’ needs, inform and educate on our begreen initiatives and to promote Bunzl, and sustainability, with confidence.