The saying goes that when America sneezes, the world catches a cold. And whether you consider it a cliché or a fundamental truth, either way it’s good news for the environment.
Having been sidelined during Donald Trump’s presidency, sustainability is now taking centre stage again in US politics, with Joe Biden prioritising action to reduce carbon emissions and protect the planet’s natural resources. Indeed, the President’s first day in office saw him fulfil his promise to rejoin the Paris Agreement, and one week later he signed an Executive Order to tackle the climate crisis at home and abroad.
These statements of intent from across the Atlantic will doubtless be followed by legislative change felt across the world. For any business operating at a global level, that means there will be an even greater responsibility to monitor, manage and reduce the levels of carbon consumed as part of day-to-day activities, now and into the future.
Green building revolution
In construction, there has long been a focus on mitigating the sector’s impact on the environment, spurred on by the fact that heating and powering buildings currently accounts for around 40% of the UK’s total energy usage. To address this statistic, the government is leading a “green building revolution”, with carbon-emission targets for new homes to be set at 75-80% below current levels and non-domestic buildings moving towards being zero-carbon ready by 2025.
While new developments will always offer energy efficiency gains in the short term, the government is also placing an emphasis on strategies for repair and sustainable replacement to minimise environmental impacts over the longer term. This thinking is echoed in the so-called Right to Repair law being introduced in summer 2021, which aims to reduce the 1.5 million tonnes of electrical waste generated every year by forcing appliance manufacturers to offer spare parts, enabling the life of machines to be extended by an additional decade.
At Integrated Design Limited (IDL), as believers in long-term thinking when it comes to our products and the environment, we believe such initiatives should be applauded. Indeed, we have supported our customers with access to replacement sub-assemblies and parts for our entrance control systems for over 15 years, ensuring we limit the volume of waste going to landfill while reducing the total cost-of-ownership through sustained high-level performance.
Continuous environmental improvement
As a company whose environmental management system has been accredited to ISO 14001:2015, we continually look to improve how our entrance control products interact with the environment, with a view to making them as environmentally benign as possible at the point they leave us and as recyclable as possible when they reach the end of their life.
Limiting our environmental impact starts with the factors we can control within our own business, which we detail in our objectives register. Outcomes from this include the implementation of constant monitoring and reporting for water, electricity and gas usage to keep it on track with a 5% reduction each year. Given that you can’t manage what you can’t measure, as part of this effort we audited our air-conditioning system and confirmed that we’re within the top10% threshold when it comes to efficiency.
Zero landfill is another of our key goals. In 2020, 60% of our total waste was recycled – including up to 90% of all glass and metal – with the remainder used for energy generation. Our paper consumption within the manufacturing processes has been reduced to almost zero and changes to our product packaging include a reduction in plastic and the use of adhesive tape featuring natural gum – examples of the marginal gains that we continue to pursue.
Ahead of the curve
Alongside our own green agenda, we are led by the various standards and regulations that apply for our customers across the globe. Within the European Union, the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulations and the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive together guide our work in ensuring that electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) does not contain substances harmful to either people or the environment, such as lead, mercury and cadmium.
Returning to the US, part of President Biden’s reinvigoration of the green agenda has been a review of the Toxic Substance Control Act, which relates to substances that are persistent, bio-accumulative and toxic (PBT). At IDL, having previously removed almost 80% of the harmful chemicals we used, we were able to quickly confirm our compliance since none of the products we ship containing any of the materials banned under this new measure.
Keeping pace with, and getting ahead of, this changing global regulatory landscape can be a challenge, but it’s one we meet by ensuring our in-house knowledge base stays constantly updated. In the past year, for example, over 80% of the IDL team have completed a number of courses related to the topic of sustainability and the environment.
For us, such initiatives are about more than just compliance, however. The escalating concern around climate change and the increasing prioritisation of environmental issues in the past few years alone underline our collective responsibility to embed sustainability ever deeper into our individual businesses and collaborative supply chains. While many will be driven by the stick of regulation, we will continue to take a proactive rather than reactive approach, continuously seeking out ways to reduce our carbon footprint for the good of our business and for the good of the planet.
Want to know more about the steps we take to ensure IDL continues to be as sustainable as possible? Contact our team on +44 (0)20 8890 5550 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.