We are quite vocal about our commitment to sustainability and it goes way beyond just using sustainable materials and offering sustainable products, it’s a holistic approach to reducing our negative impact as a business, involving how we operate, our processes as well as being held accountable for what we say we are doing.
We hold two internationally recognised certifications that demonstrate our commitment to sustainability, ISO 14001 for our EMS (Environmental Management System) and FSC® (Forestry Stewardship Council) Chain-of-Custody, which we are very proud of but what are these certifications and how exactly do they relate to our impact on the environment?
ISO 14001 is the internationally recognised standard for environmental management systems. Certification is done by a third party, and it recognises that an organisation has implemented and maintained an Environmental Management System (EMS). This guides us in identifying, controlling and managing our environmental aspects, to minimise our impacts on the environment. It's all about adopting sustainable practices and identifying opportunities for us and our client organisations to minimise impact.
The FSC® chain of custody certification assures that our paper products come from responsibly managed forests, contributing to forest preservation and biodiversity protection.
Achieving certified status for ISO14001 and FSC® is one thing, but maintaining the accreditations year-on-year requires a genuine passion for positive environmental change, a commitment to continually improve, as well as a significant commitment of time and financial resources.
We take a look at the journey we take each year to maintain our ISO14001 and FSC® certifications, and the various ways we ensure our drive and passion for sustainability remains at the core of everything we do.
More than just financial cost
Maintaining these accreditations involves considerable annual investment, but the monetary cost is just one part of the story. We were early adopters of the ISO 14001 accreditation in 2008 and became FSC® certified in 2011 and over the last 15 years, we've worked hard to develop efficient systems and processes to make the certification process smoother. Accuracy and consistency are key, as we can be ‘spot’ audited up to three times a year. So, there's absolutely no room for shortcuts!
Setting and improving targets
Like most businesses, we set targets and objectives, monitoring them closely. These range from typical business goals like revenue to environmental targets, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, minimising waste production, and cutting down on plastics and non-recyclables in our packaging and merchandising streams. Continuous improvement is vital, so as we accomplish one objective, we move on to the next area, trying to create a cycle of positive change.
Surpassing carbon reduction goals
We work with a specialist consultant who not only supports the development of our EMS but also the objectives and goals we set around our environmental performance and the processes we have in place to achieve the goals we set out. This is key to keeping us on track and ahead of the curve.
Our primary goal above all is to shrink our carbon footprint – all businesses have a role to play. Annually, we aim to reduce our greenhouse emissions by 5-10%, but, we have already achieved an impressive 40% reduction from 2020-2021! This is a result of some significant operational changes including production shift patterns and energy usage.
We are also currently trialling 4-day weeks to improve efficiency; encouraging the purchase of hybrid and electric company cars, installing more efficient lighting and creating lighting zones to improve utilisation and all grid electricity purchased is now from 100% renewable sources.
Proactive compliance measures
To maintain our certifications, we ensure that we record and monitor any complaints, especially those related to environmental matters or concerns like noise, litter, or spillages. While fortunately, we haven't faced any such incidents, we remain prepared by having robust procedures, processes, training, and equipment in place to address any potential issues effectively.
Some aspects of our certifications are covered by legislation, and so we have procedures in place to ensure compliance with the law. This means recording and reviewing a comprehensive list of regulations that might affect us, including Duty of Care in relation to waste.
Investing in sustainable technology
Every investment in equipment, machinery or other asset we make is carefully evaluated for its environmental impact. We look for solutions that help us future-proof our operations, enhance efficiency, and reduce waste. Additionally, we consider factors like energy usage, waste byproducts, and the potential to use sustainable consumables. We also map and monitor the lifecycle of our products and services, ensuring we consider their environmental impacts from manufacturing to delivery and waste management.
Chain of custody and certification
We take great care in ensuring that we manage our inputs (raw materials) and outputs (final products) responsibly to make sure we are complying with the requirements of our FSC® certification. This involves thorough checks to ensure the paper we purchase is FSC® certified, and we meticulously track and identify FSC® -certified paper used for each print job. Our dedication to maintaining the chain of custody ensures that we can legitimately claim and apply the FSC® logo to our products, which also means we can effectively support our clients’ environmental objectives through the projects we work with them on.
A team journey
Obtaining and maintaining ISO 14001 and FSC® certifications requires significant financial investment, time, dedication, and effort. It's a journey filled with the development of sustainable systems, meticulous planning, comprehensive record-keeping, and continuous improvement. And, most importantly, we are supported by the whole Ruddocks team. All our staff truly believe in what we’re trying to achieve, they support everything we do and ultimately drive the processes forward that make all the difference.
Read more about our journey to sustainability and some of the things we are doing to reduce our environmental impact.