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Our environment

The Company is committed to implementing the correct policies and procedures relating to the sustainability of the environment, and mitigating its impact on the environment. The Company endeavours to lead by example and provides the managers of its businesses with guidance on waste reduction, recycling and consumption of utilities.

In general, and as part of its commitment to the environment, the Company continues to actively migrate away from paper-based systems to handheld paperless delivery and invoicing techniques.

The waste arising from the Company’s operations is predominantly protective plastic packaging, cardboard poles and wooden pallets. The cardboard poles from the centre of rolls and cut lengths of carpet and vinyl delivered to customers are subsequently collected from their premises by the Company’s drivers, with the Company providing a financial incentive to its drivers to do so. They are re-used until no longer fit for purpose and then recycled. All pallets are reused for goods going out and when not needed are dispatched to specialist reprocessing agents when it is economic to do so.

For several years the Company’s main UK distribution hubs, and some other locations with appropriate machinery, have been utilising recycled polythene for their protective plastic packaging needs. Packaging has been identified as one of the key areas targeted for review as part of the Company’s group procurement efficiency initiative aimed at delivering cost-savings and other benefits. As a result of this initiative, by the end of 2019, machinery permitting, every Company UK location will be using regranulated polythene packaging manufactured from 100% recycled polythene.

The Company is a core funder member of Carpet Recycling UK, a not-for-profit membership association working to increase the recycling of carpet waste across the UK. Core funder members are deemed industry leaders in developing voluntary responsibility for carpet recycling throughout their lifecycle. Per Carpet Recycling UK, 175,252 tonnes of carpet was diverted from landfill in the UK in 2018 (being reused, recycled or recovered for energy generation). This represented a diversion rate of 44%, and a 2% increase on 2017. The Company does not send any floorcovering products or plastic packaging to landfill.

The Company is a member of Valpak, the leading provider of environmental compliance, data and resource management services. Valpak provides compliance services to its members by analysing the packaging waste data submitted by each member on an annual basis and comparing it with comparative data in order to confirm to the Environment Agency that its members are continuing to meet UK recycling and recovery standards.

FORS is a voluntary accreditation scheme that promotes best practice for commercial vehicle operators, including in relation to reducing environmental impact and improving operational efficiency. The Company is committed to achieving and maintaining FORS accreditations. 10 of the Company’s businesses’ locations now hold FORS Bronze accreditation, up from six last year, with an additional business holding FORS Silver. Further accreditations will be applied for in 2019.

European emission standards define the acceptable limits for exhaust emissions of new vehicles sold in the European Union and European Economic Area member states with the aim of improving air quality. Currently 87% of the Company’s commercial fleet is compliant with the latest Euro 6 emission standards, up from 74% last year. This will rise to almost 100% following the delivering of new vehicles in 2019.

The Company currently holds 12 operator licences, 11 of which have roadworthiness scores within the highest band (Green) under the Operator Compliance Risk Score (‘OCRS’) system developed by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (‘DVSA’). The Company is working towards the remaining licence achieving a Green score.

The Company is committed to improving the efficiency of its deliveries and limiting its vehicle emissions where possible. Further progress in this area will be achieved in 2019 and beyond via two efficiency initiatives that are currently being pursued by the Company, namely dynamic route planning and more effective delivery fleet utilisation. If successfully deployed, both initiatives will result in a reduced fleet size and fuel consumption.

As an importer of wood products from outside the EU, the Company has procedures in place to comply with the requirements of the European Union Timber Regulation 2013. It applies a due diligence process to mitigate the risk of illegally sourced timber within the supply chain process and as a result, is able to compile a document trail confirming that the wood products are sourced from authorised and renewable supplies.

Water, Electricity and Gas

The Company monitors greenhouse gases on a consistent basis with the aim of improving its use of energy, water, recyclable and non-recyclable resources, ensuring long-term environmental and business sustainability.

While the Company recognises its business has a direct and indirect effect on the environment, it believes that owing to its proactive approach, its activities generally have a low impact on the environment. There were no environmental legal or compliance issues arising during 2018.

Water

Water consumption arises predominantly in respect of employee welfare and commercial vehicle washing, and was 42,246 cubic metres in 2018. The Company is committed to commercial vehicles being kept clean and a pleasant environment in which its drivers operate, and operates jet wash machines and specialist truck washes throughout its network. Each truck wash utilises 100% recycled water and environmentally-friendly washing detergents.

The Company continually seeks to reduce water consumption and charges through analysing invoices received, the installation of water meters, and by reducing consumption through repair, renewal or installation of equipment to improve efficiency.

Electricity

Electricity consumption is predominantly in relation to: forklift truck battery charging; operation of specialist cutting tables; associated mechanical handling and compressed air equipment; and warehouse and office lighting and equipment. Modern and energy-efficient construction techniques and products are incorporated when investing in new facilities or undertaking refurbishment or repair works. Energy-efficient LED lighting units have now been installed across the vast majority of the network, and photovoltaic panels installed on the roof of the Company’s Coleshill distribution hub generate an estimated 46,000 kWh of electricity. Similar panels are currently in scope for the Company’s proposed new distribution centre in the Ipswich area, where all the most energy-efficient and cost-saving appliances will be considered.

Gas

Gas is consumed predominantly in respect of office heating and a very limited number of localised radiant heating above work stations on cutting tables located within distribution hubs and centres. Future savings in the consumption of electricity and gas have been identified through the installation of sophisticated heating control systems either in new facilities or during refurbishment works. It is intended that such a system will be installed at the new Ipswich distribution centre.

Electricity and gas supplies in the UK are purchased on a Company contract basis. The actual cost of electricity and gas in 2018 was comparable to prior years, and represented 0.14% of UK revenue (2017: 0.13%).

Carbon Reporting

The Company is required to report on all the measured emissions sources under The Companies Act 2006 (Strategic Report and Directors’ Report) Regulations 2013. Data has been collected in accordance with the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme. Conversion factors for electricity, gas and fuel are those published by the Carbon Trust.

  2018 CO2/tonnes 2017 CO2/tonnes 2016 CO2/tonnes
Electricity 2,080 2,736 3,457
Gas 866 783 1,052

Commercial vehicle fuel

19,400 19,475 19,597
Car fuel 5,498 4,853 4,780
Total 27,844 27,847 29,540
Tonnes per £1 million revenue 39 40 45

The total 27,844 tonnes CO2 for the financial year ended 31 December 2018 was in-line with that of the prior year despite the expansion in the number of businesses within the Company.

ESOS is a mandatory energy assessment scheme for large organisations in the UK. External audits are required to be carried out every four years following the previous audit, and the Company’s next audit is therefore not anticipated before December 2019.