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Our environment

It is a real possibility that as Howdens grows as a business, increased demands may be placed on the wider environment. Therefore, it is imperative to find practical ways to neutralise this, and, ideally, make growth beneficial. We have already initiated procedures to limit the amount of rubbish sent to landfill and to cut back on the emissions generated in our manufacturing processes, as well as introducing measures that reduce energy consumption. This is, however, an ongoing focus, and one that our entire workforce is urged to share.

Reducing waste

Energy efficiency

Lowering emissions

Staff suggestions

As would be anticipated when manufacturing wood-based products, we produce a significant amount of sawdust at our UK-based sites in Howden and Runcorn. We have devised a way to mitigate this waste, through the introduction of biomass boilers that burn the sawdust to generate heat. In 2018, we converted 12,000 tonnes of sawdust into energy – and saved on the transport that otherwise would have moved it off site. Elsewhere, we have met our target for 100% of all packaging used in our manufacturing to be from recycled sources.

Our commitment to energy efficiency is evidenced in our 14001 Environmental Management Systems certificate from the International Organization for Standardization. We earnt this through a variety of behaviours, such as investing in energy-efficient machinery and phasing out our old compressed air management systems. We also tasked our chipboard supplier with developing a new size of board that allows us to cut less and thereby save energy. Going forward, we will investigate further ways to make the most efficient use of power.

An increase in turnover for the company should not necessarily result in an increase in emissions. This is both the ambition for Howdens and the reality. Our carbon emissions are steadily diminishing year on year, while we continue to look for more ways to offset the emissions we do produce. One of our biggest achievements in this area has been the upgrade of our transport fleet to meet Euro 6 emissions standards. In 2017, this was recognised by the Freight Transport Association with a Carbon Reduction Award.

The welfare of the environment is shared by all at Howdens. Staff are invited to find eco-friendly ways to work, as well as to recognise opportunities to change outdated procedures. In recent years, for example, workers at our central offices heralded the need to no longer offer bottled water to visitors. And it was through an employee-led project that the idea for repairing, rather than scrapping, broken pallets originated – saving over 1.6 million pallets so far.