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Green Business Network

Resource efficiency pays dividends for Wells & Young's Brewing Company

Savings: £79,513

It was the very real business problem of rapidly escalating costs of utility bills that provided the initial driver for Wells & Youngs Brewing Company to look for help with resource efficiency. The ironically named Duncan Whitbread had taken over the role of energy and environmental manager within the company in November 2005 and faced electricity costs up by 42%, gas by 59%, water by 25% and effluent by 5%.

“I knew we had to make significant changes to the way we did things,” he says. “As a company we knew that energy efficiency would not only help us financially, but would also reduce global warming. Our aim was to make the company more competitive and be greener. We looked for help that would recognise what is sometimes a fine balance between running a business and reducing your environmental impact. For us, GBN is aware of that balance, and its resource efficiency project gave us invaluable information and advice on where to go for help.”

And Duncan took advantage of the help on offer, having visits from Envirowise and The Carbon Trust and help from water experts via GBN as this had been established as accounting for 43% of the company’s total energy costs.

Wells and Young's HQ in BedfordHaving established the areas in which savings could be made, Duncan took on the Herculean task of training all of the staff on-site. He ran four to five environmental briefing sessions a day and trained more than 200 people. And the awareness drive worked. “People are now turning equipment off, recycling waste and generally behaving in a more environmentally friendly way,” says Duncan.

Duncan then set up area working parties to see where resources were being wasted and where subsequent improvements and efficiencies could be made. This exercise resulted in substantial savings and some imaginative measures. These included:

These measures could be described as “low hanging fruit” – in other words, efficiencies that yield major and instant savings. But Duncan has plans to further increase savings over the coming years. He says, “We’ve hit the major areas and now we’re moving down to the next level.”

Two years down the line and in excess of £79,000 saved, how does Duncan feel?

“I have found the professional support received from the GBN Resource Efficiency Project to be invaluable. Independent audits of our site highlighted areas of the operation where significant savings could be made. Added to the training courses and networking at the GBN monthly seminars, this gave me a broader outlook on resource efficiency. In all, it’s been an excellent partnership.”