EEF Awards: Environmental winners announced

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Vaillant Group awarded EEF's Sustainable Manufacturing Award and Princes Gate Spring Water Ltd recipients of EEF's Environmental Efficiency Award.

Last week saw the conclusion of EEF's hunt for the best in UK manufacturing. The winners of EEF's manufacturing awards were announced at a gala dinner at the Grand Connaught Rooms in London's West End. This year's entries to the environmental categories were extremely strong.

Princes Gate Spring Water Ltd won the Environmental Efficiency Award and Valliant Group UK Ltd was announced as winners of the Sustainable Manufacturing Award.

Vaillant Group UK Ltd, based in Belper, Derbyshire, are a market and technology leader developing and producing tailor-made systems and services for heating, cooling and hot water. It has 550 employees.

Through its sustainability strategy Vaillant has improved products to minimise environmental impact, formed sustainable partnerships within its supply chain, enhanced stakeholder trust, secured high employee satisfaction and significantly reduced absence.

Its strategy focuses on four fundamental areas for the company: Sustainability in Environment, Employees, Development /products and Society. It involves the whole business from directors and operatives to cleaners in a vision for a fully sustainable company by 2020. Under each area, initiatives with specific completion dates were earmarked, underpinned by targets, transparency and regular review, with the company making adjustments where improvement is needed.

By 2012, the company had exceeded many initial targets, reducing CO2 emissions by 31%, energy consumption by 35% and water consumption by 56%. It reduced waste by 53% having achieved zero waste to landfill in April 2011; it is now making money on “waste”, a benefit it had not anticipated. Health and safety incidents were 56% lower in 2012 and there were no incidents at all in the first half of 2013.

Judges were impressed by the commitment to involve staff at all levels in the strategy and thought the strategy was well-structured, with examples of cradle-to-cradle sustainability, developed for a local operation but also influencing the wider group.

Environmental Efficiency award winner Princes Gate Spring Water Ltd is a manufacturer of bottled spring water, which includes a PET bottle blowing process. Its 30 plus employees work from its site Narberth in Pembrokeshire. In just one year, Princes Gate Spring Water implemented 20 energy improvement measures to become the ‘poster boy' in Carbon Trust UK's 2013 environmental efficiency campaign. The company reduced its annual CO2 emissions by 20 kg per m³ of spring water produced by working through energy efficiency recommendations in a carbon footprint report commissioned from Carbon Trust UK.

It wanted to bring PET bottle production in-house to reduce energy and emissions generated by lorry-loads of empty bottles being transported to its site. It installed a state-of-the-art bottle blowing machine and capping system using 25% less PET and eliminating 1,000 truck journeys a year.

It then replaced its diesel electricity generators with a 3-phase grid to provide sufficient power for the bottling process. It plans to erect two 500kWe wind turbines in 2014 following a feasibility study that forecast the business would be carbon positive in four years and subsequent grant of planning permission. The company also took on five additional employees, including an operations director and an EMS manager who developed its environmental management system.

The judges recognised that there had been a company-wide effort involving fundamental change to the manufacturing process, bringing unknown technology on-site and reducing vehicle movements by 95%. The judges thought that in the context of business commitment, investment and future plans look exciting.

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