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Green Business Network

Casella - leading the environmental evolution

The company that has been supplying scientific instruments since 1799 and whose customers have included Dr Livingstone and Charles Darwin and has now achieved its own evolutionary triumph. Casella Measurement has just achieved ISO 14001certification; being the first company participating in the region-wide Business Environmental Training Initiative Plus (BETI+) to do so. The company is the first in its sector to achieve environmental recognition under the management systems Standard.

The driver for Casella going for recognition to the international environmental management systems Standard, ISO 14001, came mainly from its customers. While certification isn’t yet a requirement to tender for contracts, Casella firmly believes that it will be, particularly where larger companies and government bodies are concerned.

Mark Thomson, Environmental Officer, explains: “We decided we wanted to pre-empt the market demand, and gain a competitive edge by establishing ourselves as an environmentally sound business.”

Mark Thomson celebrates ISO 14001 registration with staffAs possibly the oldest company in the UK producing environmental monitoring and measuring equipment, it also made sense for Casella to be able to demonstrate its own behaviour could be held up to scrutiny. The fact it managed to go through the whole process from start to finish in just over ten months is also testament to the determination of the whole company to make a statement about its commitment to the environment.

Casella took a slightly different approach to the training and support offered by BETI+ by starting with a gap analysis to identify which areas needed to be addressed prior to starting to the course. “We were then in a position to make the most of the training and support on offer,” says Mark Thomson. “We used BETI+ to fine-tune and modify what we’d already done and this really added value to the process for us.”

It also gave Mark a greater understanding of how environmental management systems work in practice, which resulted in him passing the demanding CIEH Level 3 Environmental Management course with a Credit.

The company’s approach to ISO 14001 is a textbook example of how to get it right. Having established management commitment, Casella then went about explaining to its entire staff what the company was trying to achieve and why. Short environmental awareness presentations were carried out for everyone. “People are generally aware of their own environmental impacts – they’re switching off lights and recycling at home. We aimed to make them bring this behaviour into work,” says Mark.

“Once our staff understood what we were trying to achieve, they came up with loads of suggestions, not just for cutting waste, but also for improving workflow and doing things better.” Mark Thomson, Environmental Officer

Staff willingness to participate in initiatives hasn’t diminished – the environmental team asked for two members of staff to sit on its working group, and had more than seven volunteers. Even the external auditors remarked on how knowledgeable Casella’s staff were.

The emphasis on involvement has also paid off in terms of behaviour and cost savings. Following environmental awareness training, the company’s water use went down by a massive 75%. During a recent washroom refit, staff suggestions resulted in fitting infra-red motion sensors and push taps to conserve water and electric hand dryers to reduce waste.

In fact, the environmental improvement element of ISO 14001 has focused Casella on better use of resources and has resulted in internal investment. Switches have been fitted in parts of the building so lights can be switched off in areas not in use; light fittings themselves have been replaced to provide better light quality, and general refurbishment work continues. Mark believes this also has a positive effect on staff. “There’s generally a greater feeling of well-being. If you reduce waste, costs and overheads and make improvements to the infrastructure, people work better and feel they’re being looked after,” he says.

In addition, the company also recognises that to attract staff businesses need to be considering the environment. “Youngsters expect working conditions to be good and that companies will be making environmental improvements,” says Tony Ulaga, Deputy Environmental Officer.

The business case for looking at environmental issues has also become evident. Re-designing just one set of packaging has yielded financial savings. Removing foam and using card has not just reduced the size of the box by 60%, but also reduced production costs by over 80% and that’s without taking into account the reduction in shipping costs.

So what’s next? “We’re looking at Corporate Social Responsibility issues, greening our supply chain and implementing a sustainable purchasing policy,” says Tony Ulaga. “We don’t take it for granted that it’s better and cheaper to source materials or services from the Far East, China or India. Sometimes we can get something as good, if not better locally and that’s massively better for the environment.”

And the final word goes to Product Manager Gary Noakes, who says: “This is step one – the start. We have plenty of things we can do to improve our environmental performance further, but ISO 14001 has provided us with a focus and an incentive to do things better.”