Green Business Network
Solicitors - Environmental Initiatives. Environmental Initiatives - Solicitors. No matter how many times you say it, the two don’t strike you as natural bedfellows. But Luton-based Pictons LLP looks set to break the mould and become one of only a handful of legal firms in the UK to achieve registration to ISO 14001, with help from Green Business Network (GBN) and the Business Environmental Training Initiative Plus (BETI+).
The fact that the legal profession is now starting to take a interest in the environment is a strong indicator of how much environmental issues have started to impact on all businesses – and not just in obvious ways.
Anil Virji, costs manager at the firm, was responsible for introducing the notion that even the legal profession has a contribution to make towards environmental improvements within Pictons. He explains, “I’m basically a tree hugger, I wanted to change the way we do business because of my concerns for the future. However, I realised that in business that doesn’t hold much sway. I therefore presented a model to senior management that convinced them there was a sound business case for looking at managing our environmental impacts.”
Pictons base in Luton, an extremely industrial area, means that in order to appeal to industry, it needs to understand the constraints and pressures affecting business. In addition, supply chain issues are starting to appear even in the legal marketplace.
“Supply chain pressure is just starting to hit us and will probably increase significantly in the future. We want to be prepared and this is what will help to set us ahead of our competitors.”
The business joined the BETI+ programme and two members of staff underwent CIWM Waste Awareness Certificate training. Anil Virji also took the CIEH Level 3 course in Environmental Management, which proved to be a major benefit in the company’s journey towards ISO 14001 registration. “I got loads out of the course,” says Anil. “I now have an understanding of aspects and impacts, which are the absolute basis of the whole system. But what was almost equally valuable was the interaction with the different businesses also taking the course. It gave me a real insight into how industry is having to adapt to our changing world.”
Through the BETI+ course and involvement with GBN’s Resource Efficiency Club Pictons has also realised cost savings. To date, it has seen a reduction of £1,500 in waste costs alone. It is now about to address gas, electricity, water and paper use, which could save as much as £18,000 a year for the company. “The greater the environmental impact generally, the greater the cost to the company,” says Anil.
But aside from cost savings and gaining a competitive edge, Pictons is now seeing environmental and corporate social responsibility issues starting to impact on recruitment. Just by advertising the fact that it has an environmental policy and uses Fair Trade products, the firm has attracted a significant amount of website hits from graduates – particularly those looking to work for a more ethical company. Anil says: “Staff like to feel they’re doing something towards the environment, so it’s up to us to make sure our internal and external practices are greener.”
The BETI+ programme has not only paid dividends for the company in terms of raising awareness of environmental issues and the benefits that reducing environmental impacts can realise, but it has also presented an excellent public relations opportunity. The company is 40 years old in May 2008 and Pictons is hoping to tie in celebrations with being registered to ISO 14001, which would show that success and sound environmental practices can happily co-exist.