Need Help or Advice?
Call the Insight team
01273 475 500
Campaigners have described the recent pollution of Brighton beach with many thousands of small polystyrene balls as an “ecological disaster”. This horrendous pollution incident has prompted a campaign group to appeal for volunteers to help clean up the beach.
It’s believed that the polystyrene originates from a damaged pontoon, located off the Kent coast. The polystyrene pollutants have drifted westwards and can now be seen and found along more than a mile of Brighton beach. They are mixing with the sand and shingle, making the clean-up operation extremely challenging, which is why volunteers are being called for.
There is a great deal of concern over the anticipated break down of these polystyrene balls into microplastics which will inevitably be eaten by small fish and sea creatures causing them to suffer due to the toxic chemicals in polystyrene. Ultimately, we will also experience the impact when contaminated fish and shellfish are consumed.
While this contamination incident might be considered only a small disaster, when compared to other worldwide pollution events, it’s enormously damaging to our local environment and wildlife.
As a business, Insight Security is highly committed to minimising the impact it has on the environment. Over 30 years of trading we have continuously examined and reviewed our operations, making a number of positive changes to minimise our environmental impact. We hope that, by sharing our journey so far, we can encourage other businesses to consider the changes they can make to minimise their impact on our environment.
Every business is unique so the options available will need to be considered in each case. And the strengthening international focus on climate change and environmental protection means that there are new products and solutions evolving continuously. So its important for enterprises to be aware of what they need to do and the tools available to help them achieve their environmental goals.
The Insight Security environmental initiative breaks down into 5 key areas:
Leadership is essential. Environmental commitment must come from the top in all organisations. Management must be fully committed to doing what’s needed in order to ‘sell’ the objective to their personnel and this must be accompanied by observable, positive action.
100% Of the staff at Insight Security recognise the importance of protecting the environment and are therefore happy to fully support the company`s environmental objectives.
Insight Security enjoys excellent relationships with all suppliers enabling the business to work closely with them, over recent years, to improve shipping efficiency and optimise packaging to reduce environmental impact.
Minimising waste while maximising recycling has been a primary objective of the company`s environmental strategy. We have adopted improved processes and procedures to reduce waste wherever possible. These have included standardising product components and packaging to make items versatile and multifunctional. And wherever possible and practical we ensure that all materials, such as inbound packaging, are recycled and reused.
Another of our primary environmental objectives has been the optimisation of our energy consumption. One key initiative involved the replacement of all lighting throughout the warehouse and office spaces with energy efficient LED panels, with the initial cost being partially covered by a small EU grant. The subsequent reduction in energy bills meant that the business recouped its investment in just 18 months and has been enjoying lower cost energy ever since. Energy cost savings of over 20% were achieved between 2018 and 2020 with a 40% reduction in lighting costs.
Other energy efficiency initiatives included replacing kettles with a hot water urn, which also resulted in time savings for staff, along with disconnecting an unused gas supply.
At Insight Security we recognise that packaging and distribution are important aspects of our business. As a result we are continuously reviewing the packaging we use and always on the lookout for effective ways to make improvements.
During the early years of the business, polystyrene chips and expanded foam pellets were the most popular form of void filler, essential for protecting delicate items in transit, such as electronic equipment. Growing environmental awareness led to the use of bubblewrap as a practical and effective alternative. While we continued to use bubblewrap for certain specific packaging applications, over recent years we have moved toward using paper and cardboard alternatives for the bulk of our packaging needs. And we are currently assessing replacement of our remaining minimal use of bubblewrap with an equally effective latticed paper packaging material.
As noted, the bulk of our shipments, these days, are effectively protected in transit using paper and cardboard, processed into effective packaging materials using various types of dunnage machines.
Dunnage simply refers to the material used to protect goods while in transit. It can be anything from wood chips to matting or bubble wrap.
Initially we used Kraft paper that was scrunched up using a Padpak dunnage machine to create sausage shaped void filler. Although this was very successful as a protective material, the distribution team found the heavy, bulky paper rolls cumbersome and the dunnage equipment was, at times, temperamental. We also noted how, although we had reduced the amount of plastic bubble wrap and other fillers, we continued to have a lot of inbound cardboard boxes and packaging that required disposal.
This prompted a switch to a different type of dunnage machine that converted waste cardboard into useful, usable packaging. We invested in an Ecoshred machine, which is a form of shredder capable of processing cardboard.
We invested £2K in this valuable machine which was recouped in packaging cost savings in around only 18 months. This solution not only helped with our packaging requirements it also significantly reduced the amount of inbound packaging waste going to landfill. This initiative has reduced the amount of waste we send to landfill by 40% while the business has grown significantly over the past 2 years.
Insight Security staff also contribute by bringing cardboard packaging they receive at home, processing this via the Ecoshred machine and turning it into useful packaging material for the business. Our customers shouldn’t be surprised to find shredded Amazon boxes, wine boxes and household appliance cartons protecting their products while in transit and this valuable material can be reused wherever it goes.
We also make use of cardboard donations from shops and other commercial organisations, helping reduce their waste output, creating a positive win:win situation for all involved.
Our cardboard processing initiative has made a significant contribution toward packaging cost savings as well as minimising waste. Also, since the cardboard can be processed and shredded by our warehouse staff during quieter periods, it means that they have a continuous supply of void fill material always ready for instant use which has helped speed up the packaging and distribution process.
We are constantly on the lookout for new packaging alternatives. Amongst those we have considered or are actively considering are various new forms of biodegradable plastic packaging. Unfortunately, at this point in time with limited volume production, costs are typically between 25% and 60% higher than standard packaging which represents a significant additional business cost. Another important consideration has been the biodegradability of these packaging alternatives which generally requires exposure to sunlight. This makes it unsuitable for waste that is sent to landfill where it will be buried.
The huge polystyrene pollution challenge that’s plagued the Brighton beach has starkly highlighted how our plastic-filled modern world needs to change. And businesses are in the vanguard of what is an essential green revolution.
By continuously reviewing and re-examining our business operations Insight Security has made significant changes which have massively reduced the quantity of waste we send to landfill. The business recycles all incoming paper and cardboard and even collects cardboard from other businesses. Staff members are far happier in their work as they know their efforts are making a valuable contribution and they too provide cardboard which is recycled into packaging material.
Energy efficiency has been improved and costs have been massively reduced - which makes management very happy indeed!
If you need help with any aspects of safety or security - remember that we are here to help. Give us a call on 01273 475500 and we’ll provide you with free, expert advice and guidance.
This message was added on Wednesday 28th April 2021
Need Help or Advice?
Call the Insight team
01273 475 500